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Aboriginal Ph.D. student's organic farming methods spreading

Aboriginal Ph.D. student's organic farming methods spreading

Taipei, March 29 (CNA) A member of Taiwan's Atayal aboriginal tribe who has obtained high academic achievements despite scarce educational resources, has now become a farmer devoted to developing organic crops that are good for people as well as the environment and many of his practices are gaining popularity.
Watan Talu, 30, a Ph.D. student at National Chengchi University's Department of Ethnology, is also a pioneer in organic farming in the mountains of northern Taiwan's Hsinchu County, where he grew up.
Watan's "moonlighting" into farming was mainly influenced by his father, formerly a Christian clergyman who abandoned toxic fertilizers and pesticides 20 years ago for "poison-free" replacements after his wife was diagnosed with liver, colorectal and pancreatic cancer.
"The doctor who treated mother thought she was an alcoholic and had drunk too much substandard liquor, " Watan recalled.
But Watan said his father knew better than anybody else that his mother's health had not been damaged by alcohol, but that she had been exposed to too much toxic chemicals, he said.
In order to advance his natural farming techniques, Watan said, his father even traveled to South Korea to learn the Koreans' ways of organic farming.
Based on the knowledge that he learned from his father, Watan has in recent years begun researching and developing his own way of organic planting.
Watan composts grass and legumes that he cuts from the mountains, as well as fallen cherry blossoms that he collects from the wild, and Chinese herbal products such as Danggui and cinnamon to turn those ingredients into enzymes.
He then dilutes those enzymes into liquid fertilizers and sprays them on his farmland, from which biologically clean crops are produced.
Harvested crops from his farm have been examined and accepted by the Taipei-based green life advocacy group - Homemakers Union and Consumers Cooperative (HUCC) - for sale in its outlets around the island. The group currently has members exceeding 28,000.
Watan also uses recycled grass and flower compost to feed chickens he raises in his farm, making poultry farming a by-product of his organic operations.
His unique development of enzymes has not only saved the soil of the land and prevented the rivers down the mountains from being contaminated further, the produce from the farms -- vegetables and chicken -- are safe for consumers as well, Watan said.
What pleased him most is that Atayal farmers in other villages in the mountains have begun to seek his instructions on how to produce natural enzymes with plants that Mother Nature gave them, Watan said.
With his connections in the cities, Watan has also helped draft proposals for his tribal neighbors to submit to the Cabinet-level Council of Indigenous Peoples and the Council of Labor Affairs, successfully helping 10 of them to obtain subsidies from the central government to help them with their agricultural development over the past three years.
Watan and his father's farmland are located in the deep mountains near the borders of Hsinchu, Taoyuan and Yilan, an area known to the Atayal people as the "Home of the Sun." Watan's mother is now a healthy grandmother who continues helping with the family's farming business.
(By Deborah Kuo)




Updated : 2021-10-24 04:20 GMT+08:00