Taiwan's remote tribes light up with solar power in joint initiative

The initiative, led by I-Mei Foods and Easycard Corporation, is designed to help the disadvantaged and promote indigenous cultural sustainability

The photo shows I-Mei Foods CEO Luis Ko, right, Ea...

The photo shows I-Mei Foods CEO Luis Ko, right, Easycard Corporation President Kenneth S. Lin, center, and Council of Indigenous People Deputy Minster Wang Ming-huey.

The photo shows I-Mei Foods CEO Luis Ko, right, Ea...

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) - As a traditional electric power grid is out of reach for remote indigenous tribes across Taiwan, two Taiwanese companies have jointly launched an initiative to build solar panels in several remote tribes to help residents have access to electricity, making their life easier.

The initiative kicked off earlier this year, in which four tribes nestled in mountain of southern and eastern Taiwan have completed solar panel installations and are able to light up the night with solar power.

I-Mei Foods Co. and EasyCard Corporation on Tuesday revealed the initiative, its progress, and how a solar PV system has changed life in four different locations which the traditional power grid cannot reach, including Se Ka Paiwan (舊筏灣部落) and Kucapungane (舊好茶部落) in Pingtung County, Masitoban (瑞岩部落) in Nantou County, and Dali & Tongli Village (大同大禮部落) in Hualien County.

At the same time, the team also helped distribute the power from the solar system to the house of Golden Tripod award-winning indigenous Taiwanese writer Auvini Kadresengan, enabling him to write books on a laptop in his hometown of Kucapungane.

A video released by the companies shows a nearly thousand-year-old stone house in Kucapungane has been lit up with the sponsored solar power system. The stone house has been listed as near-threatened world heritage by WMF. The tribal people couldn't hide their emotion when seeing the stone house being lit up.

Some of the tribes in the initiative had lost access to power due to typhoons for a long period of time, and the initiative is making life easier for residents. With that, the residents, mostly disadvantaged seniors, don't have to suffer the inconvenience of power outages from typhoons.

In the second half of 2018, the initiative is set to reach more remote tribes, including a hunter school at Masitoban in Nantou, and the other 15 households in Dali & Tongli Village and Se Ka Paiwan.

Last year, I-Mei Foods partnered with indigenous farmers in Pingtung County to procure fresh red quinoa without a middleman so as to guarantee farmers a decent and stable income.

I-Mei Foods CEO Luis Ko elaborated on Tuesday what motivates him to advocate for indigenous groups: First, many Taiwanese people have indigenous genes but failed to preserve their cultures and traditions well; second, the initiative is in line with the company's mission of helping and changing society for the better; third, the national Indigenous Peoples Day falls on August 1st, the same day he was born, and that all make him feel the urge to help the people.