Yunlin County watermelon farmer and single father continues to battle the odds

By Chen Tsan-kun and Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Fri, May 17, 2013 - Page 5

While many single fathers may find raising daughters to be the greatest challenge of their lives, Lu Jung-teng (呂榮騰), who has survived a major traffic accident and is battling cancer, never loses faith in life.

Born into a farming family in Yunlin County’s Sihhu Township (四湖), Lu became a single father several years ago after his wife left the family when their two daughters were in elementary school.

Shortly afterwards, Lu was in a horrific car crash. Then doctors diagnosed him with stage-three tongue cancer.

While surgeries for the cancer left him with speaking difficulties, Lu did not given up. Instead, he started a small business peddling watermelons he grew under the overpass connecting Provincial Highways No. 17 and No. 61.

However, with harvesting seasons for watermelons in southern Taiwan overlapping this year, the market price of the fruit has plunged to NT$10 per catty (0.6kg) from a high of NT$25 per catty during the same period last year.

The changing weather in recent weeks has also reduced consumers’ inclination to purchase watermelons, with Lu selling a maximum of four a day. However, he remains optimistic about the future.

“The recent spate of heavy rains has damaged many watermelon farmers’ entire harvests. At least some of mine are still marketable. God is apparently still taking care of me,” he said.

Touched by Lu’s attitude, several netizens have tried to help him by ordering watermelons, with a student at Yunlin’s Beigang Senior High School and a netizen in Greater Kaohsiung each ordering 70.

“Although some of the buyers live far away, I will deliver the watermelons to them personally as long as these deals do not cost me money,” Lu said.