Traditional Swidden Agriculture Period (before 1920s)

在文檔中 有機之根: 台灣泰雅族部落替代性食物網路與發展之研究 - 政大學術集成 (頁 53-0)

3. CONTEXT AND CASE

3.4.2 Traditional Swidden Agriculture Period (before 1920s)

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more urbanized and more assimilated into mainstream culture in Taiwan, also has many social problems such as alcohol issues, family disruption and unemployment.

People from the front mountain area used to think the back mountain people were backwards, but now there are moves to learn from them as they are better able to incorporate traditional Atayal culture in economic development.

3.4.2 Traditional Swidden Agriculture Period (before 1920s)

Traditionally, Atayal people’s agricultural production was subsistence-based and consisted primarily of swidden mountain-side agriculture producing millet, corn, and sweet potato with supplementary foods planted or gathered from the forest such as squash, pumpkin, chive, ginger, wild vegetable, pepper, beans as well as meat and fish from hunting (although, as mentioned above, there is some evidence that hunting and gathering historically made up the majority of their diet, by the time of initial Japanese ethnological research, swidden agriculture had become the mainstay) . The social norms, traditions, and rituals of the community governed each stage of the process and land-use decisions (Lin, N and Tsai, 2011). These social institutions, traditions, values and rules supported their social and production systems.

In Quri Settlement Taru Behwy, one of the leaders in the transition to alternative forms of agriculture and father of PhD candidate and key community organizer Watan Taru, describes the traditional livelihood in the area of his childhood as involving a handful of commonly-owned plots that would be used in a shifting pattern. The use of multiple plots and more diverse crops increased the resilience of the community against risks such as pests and weather events. Common ownership meant increased interdependence and as such increased cooperation. When it was time to shift, to open up a new plot of land using fire and leaving the old parcel to lie fallow for a few years, the community would negotiate and decide collectively the next course of action.

Taru Behwy describes that they would traditionally grow millet from February until July but in June (before the millet had come to term) sweet potato could be planted in the same field and harvested a few months afterward. From September to February was hunting season and also the time to prepare the plot for the next planting.

These days, they are unable to shift their fields due to Forestry Bureau laws that make it illegal to open up new land for cultivation. This means that the land

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currently in use cannot lie fallow; hence either conventional methods of commercial fertilizer must be used or alternative techniques. Taru Behwy is quick to point out that this policy devised by outsiders incentivizes bad stewardship of the land, whereas traditional methods of shifting agriculture protect the land and the water. Furthermore, they are limited by road access to sometimes spread-out tracts of cultivated land.

Pastor Tali is an elder who is very active in the community and his grown children and grandchildren are active in the organic farming movement and the FA.

He tells of being born near Neiwan (內彎) during the Japanese Period. His family, like most others in the area, had been moved to the front of the mountain by the Japanese for about 20 years, but found life there very difficult. His father was one of the first to return to the back-mountain area, Pastor Tali was 4 or 5 years old at the time. They established a settlement at Cinsbu (鎮西保) and then expanded to

Xinguang (新光), so named by a police officer from the plains area who tells a story of seeing sunshine in his sleep. The locals prefer the emic name Smangus or Mangus, derived from that of a founding ancestor.

“We had no tools other than a simple hoe that could easily be broken if misused or if the land was too rocky.” Pastor Tali recalls the traditional farming techniques employed by his family when he worked alongside his father as a child.

He is now a spritely old man who looks and moves like a much younger man than one in his nineties. They would not clear-cut the land but rather left many of the large trees intact, cutting down branches for firewood and to let the sunlight reach the ground. This also served to prevent soil erosion and landslides.

As previously discussed, norms and rules surrounding land use were traditionally governed by gaga. Using the land in a way that respects and cares for nature is fundamental to gaga. Watan describes their land use principles as involving a trinity of People-Land-God. Though some aspects of those traditions and knowledge remain, much has changed through the course of their interaction with multiple waves of colonizers on Taiwan. Pagung Tomi (芭翁 baweng) blames the shift to cash crops and disuse for the loss of some traditional varieties of seeds (mainly millet) and claims that much can be learned from traditional peoples in places like Africa where they save and exchange seeds.

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The Japanese colonial administration from the late 19th century encouraged Taiwan’s indigenous peoples to adopt “wet” or “terraced” rice farming, also known as “paddy farming,” “paddy field” or “rice paddies” (水田 shui3tian1, 水稻 shui3dao4, 稻田 dao4tian1). Reducing mobility of indigenous peoples and altering their modes of production were strategies of domination and control. It was official agricultural policy in the 1920s to ban outright the traditional swidden agriculture of indigenous peoples in the mountain areas (Lin, N and Tsai, 2011). There are many remnant stone walls and terraces throughout Jianshi Township dating to this period. Local farmers say that the stone terraces can make it easier for them to do weeding work as they can stand in the lower terrace to weed the higher one and thus avoid having to bend over.

The terraces are no longer used for rice or filled with water.

The shift in agriculture production and mobility had profound cultural results.

As Lin, N and Tsai (2011) point out, “It was totally different from Tayal people’s tradition. They were supposed to farm in a restricted area and cultivate in more intensive working rather than adapt to nature conditions in a previous passive way”.

As Taru Behry describes, traditionally the land was commonly owned and shifting was governed by cultural and religious norms as well as negotiation and communal decision-making. It was the shift to terraced rice growing that first settled their communities into permanent villages with property divided at the family level, creating distance between families. Although the Tayal people in the mountains mainly produced rice, it was still primarily for household or local consumption; still a subsistence based production.

As previously mentioned, many of the changes from the Japanese period remain like those stone walls: the separate family ownership, the competition, the breakdown of community decision-making, as well as rice as the staple grain

consumed in the area. The reorienting from the community to the household and from Utux and Gaga and toward Christianity in the 1950s had profound effects on the local culture (Lin, N. and Tsai, 2011). Although the Japanese left in the mid-40s, the KMTs policies towards indigenous peoples were much the same in terms of land-use.

In Jianshi area, under Japanese colonial government many Mknazi and Mrkwang goups from mountain areas (back mountain) were forced to move to Naro (in front mountain area) or went on their own (some returned after WWII). For this

reason, many communities in the back mountain area are based on traditional lineages while the front mountain villages are more mixed.

Along the highway through Jianshi Township, there is a heart-shaped monument. The story behind it is that while hunting, a Mrkwang man accidentally killed a Mknazi. Before he could apologize, he was attacked himself in revenge. The Japanese colonial government allegedly gave guns and ammunition to both sides.

Over the next 7 years, many people on both sides were killed before the government eventually helped them come together peacefully. This monument marks the place where they met and, in accordance with Tayal tradition, buried a stone to create peace.

3.4.4 Conventional Agriculture (1980s to present)

It was in the 1970s and 80s with the construction of roads into the mountains that the modern market economy came to have an influence in Jianshi Township. By buying rice produced more cheaply and easily outside the mountain areas, the indigenous people in the mountains of Jianshi were able to devote their fertile land to growing high-value fruits and vegetables as cash-crops.

While much of the production is still for household or local consumption, farmers often grow one or two vegetables or fruits of high market value as cash-crops per year; particularly honey-peaches (水蜜桃) at 90% of production and persimmons and pears (Lin, E. 2009: 9). Hsiao, E. (2008) outlines Cinsbu’s recent difficult

experience growing cash crops,

In the late 70 and early 80s, some villagers started to grow high value fruit, whose high price was due to their scarcity. Unfortunately, every kind of fruit they have grown only stayed profitable for less than ten years as a result of the increasing competition from imported products since the late 1970s. Firstly the villagers grew apples. When the price of apples fell, they shifted to grow pears. And as the pears were allowed to import in the late 80s, the villagers shifted again to grow peaches in the early 90s. Just like a repeated decay cycle that could be tragically expected, in the mid-90s, the price of peaches started to fall, again due to imports. This time the new economic crop appeared to be temperate vegetables, which, together with peaches, have been the main source of income until now (p. 4-5).

Thus while many families in the area have benefited financially from their interaction with the outside world through marketing their agricultural products, the most

common complaint in the area is regarding price fluctuations. It is hard for consumers purchasing vegetables in the supermarket or even a traditional day-market in Taipei to imagine the massive and insecure investment of time and money by farmers. While many vegetables are annuals that can be grown from seed to harvest in just one

season, some trees require years of investment before they bear fruit (literally and figuratively). For a farmer to invest their money, time and land into growing pear trees while the price is high only the have the price drop when the trees are finally able to bear fruit years later, it can be a devastating experience comparable to a dramatic stock market crash.

Pastor Tali’s youngest son explains their family’s experience:

In the 1950s we started harvesting mushrooms, it was hard work but good business.

When the mushroom prices fell, Pastor Atung went to Taichung and brought back a bunch of apples. It took a few years to grow the apple trees and there were no roads to bring them to market so we ate them ourselves. In the 1970s the road was built and we began growing water peaches (水蜜桃 shuimitao) for market but then the road was destroyed by a landslide. In the 1980s Pastor Atung went to Taida [國立台灣大學 National Taiwan University in Taipei] to learn how to do agriculture. We started growing peaches because Lalashan ( 拉 拉 山 ) in Taoyuan county’s ( 桃 源 縣 ) Fuxingxian (福興鄉) had been very successful at it. The prices dropped, now people in Lalashan are very poor. We’ve grown apples, peaches, and other cash crops, all following others, chasing wealth. In the 1990s we started to grow vegetables on some chosen plots. We grew corn, millet, cucumber, but we grew too many and degraded the land (8/11/14).

Another set of issues presented by this type of agricultural model in the area that is frequently mentioned by informants is the dependence of farmers on

middlemen and local government. These issues are deep and complex, ranging from the symbolic importance of autonomy in the communities to more tangible issues of prices and pesticides. The farmers complained that for years they have been at the mercy of wholesalers who pit local farmers against each other to buy produce for the lowest possible prices, increasing inequality among households as well as

perpetuating animosity between the local people and mainstream Han population. As mentioned above, mistrust between indigenous communities in this area and local government is rife, and unaided by the layers of bureaucracy surrounding land usage policy. But beyond this issue is the problem of pesticide and fertilizer companies being state-owned or state-subsidized. Despite this area being part of the upper

catchment area of the Shimen Reservoir, which provides drinking water to millions of people, local governments encourage and incentivize use of these chemicals in

agriculture. As outlined above, local people not only feel that this incentivizes poor land-use methods and erodes social ties, they also feel weighed down and

disadvantaged by their dependence on outsiders. Dr. Lin, Y explains more thoroughly,

I’d like to explain a little bit about them combining their local knowledge with the Korean practices. In this way they can break through the control of conventional

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agricultural practices. In Taiwan, the government actually subsidizes the chemical pesticide and fertilizer companies to supply to farmers. So through the government bureaucracy like the local government, there is a strong link between these companies and government. So the indigenous people have to work very hard to break through this union and the businessmen. There are two ways to break through. One is through producing their own natural pesticides and the other is to make a new network to trade their agricultural products to the outside (in discussion at Quri Settlement Nov 2013).

Thus, breaking out of the cycle of dependence and disadvantage is a large motivation for farmers in the area to switch to alternative forms of agriculture.

One of the biggest and most salient issues in conventional agriculture is concern for the health of farmers and the environment. Local people are very attuned to the effects of these chemicals on their land and bodies: to them it is not a distant abstraction of environmental legislation. In April of 2014, when Sayun took me on the back of her scooter to show me a few different farms and settlements in the area, she would point to some fields, “look, do you see the blackened grass and weeds at the edge of the field? That’s how you know that they have been spraying it with chemical pesticides. Nothing can grow near the field. If it does that to the plants, what does it do to us?” (paraphrased from Chinese).

As far as social and cultural impacts, conventional agriculture follows the path of terraced rice agriculture. The land is owned at the household level causing some issues of competition between families. In terms of the issues of land ownership and resource allocation, Lin, N and Tsai (2011) point out the significance of irrigation as a type of Common Pool Resource. With the dividing up of land into units privately owned by families, there were still irrigation systems built and maintained to supply water to the fields. Such systems required great cooperation. However, with the modern period came rubber pipe irrigation systems, which further lessened

interdependence and cooperation among families in the communities. These pipes are sometimes shared by a couple of families making decisions by their own norms or alliances rather than traditional norms such as gaga or utux (ibid).

This combination of government regulation which prevents shifting agriculture with the promotion of petrochemicals incentivizes intensive monocrop agriculture (what Pastor Taru laments as poor stewardship) rather than diversification.

This process can be seen as having a cyclical effect because the lack of security incentivizes farmers to clear their land completely and plant even more intensively to compensate for the chance that a typhoon could destroy it all. Thus leaving the soil

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prone to ever more erosion and pests that lead to ever more chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

Thus while the market has opened up great opportunity for people in Jianshi area to access cheap rice and other goods as well as to earn money selling high-value produce, it has created many challenges. The more recent shift to alternative forms of agriculture can be seen as attempts to mitigate these challenges to maximize the benefits of participation in the market system and minimize the disadvantages. As outlined above, the main issues are environmental and health issues, middle-men, government/petro-chemical company collusion, erosion of cultural norms, price fluctuations and risk posed by natural catastrophe. Recent rethinking of local agriculture is a concerted effort to address all of these issues.

3.4.5 Alternative Agriculture (1990 to present)

As previously mentioned, there has been a gradual and patchy shift toward newer, alternative forms of agriculture in the area. This shift has occurred to different extents, at different rates and with different goals and outcomes in various parts of the

research area. The process can be seen as a form of local activism as members who have made the shift have taken it upon themselves to bring their compatriots into the fold. This section has been divided into three parts based on Watan Taru and the FA’s presentations and my conversations with them. The three parts can be seen as a complex ongoing process in search of a production system that best fits with the land, people and market.

Organic Farming (1990 to present)

Organic farming in the area has been sporadic, diverse and with mixed degrees of success. Like Pastor Tali, Pastor Taru Behwy of Quri settlement (father of Watan Taru) also recalls engaging in traditional farming alongside his father, though he is a generation younger that Pastor Tali. He and his family had migrated to Quri from Smangus but were one of the later families to arrive and, in part due to modern, non-communal land ownership regime and community upheaval, were left with a very poor tract of land. While other fields could yield two rice harvests each year, theirs could only produce one. As a consequence of the quality of the land, they were a very poor family and he describes himself as very lucky to have found a wife. With a story that echoes from the mouths of many in these valleys, they focused on one cash crop

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after another as the prices fell one by one. Eventually he was trained in the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides for conventional agriculture by a government program. He was very successful in using these methods and claims to have been chased from his wife’s family’s community for producing too much.

Upon moving back to Quri and continuing to use these methods, his wife was diagnosed with cancer by doctors in the plains with the prognosis that it was terminal.

Upon moving back to Quri and continuing to use these methods, his wife was diagnosed with cancer by doctors in the plains with the prognosis that it was terminal.

在文檔中 有機之根: 台灣泰雅族部落替代性食物網路與發展之研究 - 政大學術集成 (頁 53-0)