【With Video】Zhuoshui River Nurtures Premium Rice, Xiluo Township Farmers’ Association Boosts Rice Industry by Integrating Tech

Report by Chao Hsin Hu and Zi-Yi Cheng of CNEWS.com / Yunlin

Xiluo Township, known as the “Rice Barn of Jianan Plain”, is advantageously located on the alluvial plain downstream of Zhuoshui River. The fertile soil and abundant water supply for irrigation has always supplied the area with rich resources. In addition to the renowned Xiluo rice, the area is heavily characterized by its vegetable production and soy sauce industry. The century-old Xiluo Township Farmers’ Association was founded in 1917. In 1984, it became the first to release the small-package rice in Taiwan and has since secured the premium status of the Zhuoshui rice. The Association currently implements the contract farming model and advanced agricultural technologies to ensure farmers grow high-quality rice with production records.

The General Manager of the Xiluo Township Farmers’ Association, Jin-Fu Liao, points out that speaking of Xiluo rice, the Taiwanese people are most likely to make the intuitive connection with the Zhuoshui River. The Zhuoshui River originates from Bagua Mountains and flows out of the mountains to form a wide alluvial plain of brown and black-colored fertile soil. The soil contains organic nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, and other elements that continue to nurture a flourishing land.

“The most delicious rice from Zhuoshui River are all from the basin to the east of Xiluo Township because the minerals in the river slowly sediments in this area, creating fertile soil that grows the so-called authentic Zhuoshui rice.” Liao also indicates that Xiluo rice is called Zhuoshui rice and has been widely acclaimed since the Japanese colonial rule. It was designated as the royal rice offered to the Japanese Emperor. The high-quality rice produced along the Zhuoshui River was transported across the ocean to be presented to the Emperor.

The rice offered to the emperors required security to stand guard starting from the sowing process. The entire cultivation process was very rigorous, and special prayer ceremonies were held prior to the sowing, transplantation, harvest, and other farm work. Although it was long time ago, the situation is totally different now, but the quality of Xiluo rice nowadays is leading the island. Liao shares that the brand “Xianna Rice” (meaning “rice contributed to the emperor”) created by the farmers’ association allows this wonderful story to continue on.

The xianna rice released by the Xiluo Township Farmers’ Association is primarily the Tainong No. 71 Yiquan aromatic rice. The chewy rice has a wonderful scent similar to that of Japanese Koshihikari rice. The key to maintaining outstanding quality is the direct contractual partnerships with farmers through the contract farming model implemented by the farmers’association. The contracts facilitate farmers to comply with regulations in the management, fertilization, pesticide usage, and all aspects, which meets the quality and safety standards required by the farmer’s association.

Liao indicates that the most important job of the farmers’ association is to take care of the farmers, and provide them with the best crop-growing management and benefits. The Xiluo Township Farmers’ Association is currently under contractual partnerships with nearly 50 farmers that cover over 100 hectares of farmland. The crops are mainly three major types of rice, including the so-called “aromatic rice” Tainong No. 71 rice, as well as the Taigeng No. 9 rice, and the Tainan No. 11 rice. Among these rice, the farmers’ association offers a free supply of Tainong No. 71 rice seedling and adopts the prophet rice technology for early stage pest control. The farmland involved in contract farming for Tainong No. 71 rice alone is around 50 hectares.

The National Farmers’ Association ROC and German company Bayer jointly developed the “prophet rice” healthy seedling technology. After treatment, the rice can grow into rice seedlings which could fight against pests for long periods of time. The drug effectiveness from seedling stage up to booting stage can last from 60 to 80 days , and the crop harvested will no longer have any pesticide residue, which effectively increases the production.

“The prophet rice is a new early stage preventive technology that works similar to the concept of vaccines. Seedlings are healthier and pesticide usage is reduced by 1 to 2 times in the field, saving valuable manpower.” says Liao. The farmers’ association will offer Tainong No. 71 rice contract farmers NT $2.3 per catty (0.6 kilograms) increasing of the actual price to serve as the guaranteed purchase price. Farmers will then save on the cost of seedlings via applying the technology of “prophet rice”, and receive a better rice collection price This encourages farmers to participate in contract farming, while farmers meet the various steps required by the farmers’ association during the entire cultivation process and establish production records, further allowing people to feel safe consuming the rice.

In addition to the prophet rice technology, the Xiluo Township Farmers’ Association has also tested pesticide-spraying UAVs, hoping to improve economic development in farming villages, to increase farmer’s income, and to achieve other objectives of the farmers’ association through technological assistance. Liao says that Xiluo Township is an important rice production region in Taiwan and the introduction of prophet rice and other technologies is driving agriculture into new directions. The goal is to have more farmers apply new technologies and help Taiwan’s rice industry take a giant step forward.

Photo source: stock photo

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