Conventional Agriculture (1980s to present)

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 56-59)


3.4.4 Conventional Agriculture (1980s to present)

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

立 政 治 大 學

N a tio na

l C h engchi U ni ve rs it y


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

立 政 治 大 學

N a tio na

l C h engchi U ni ve rs it y


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.

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 56-59)