With constant transformation and breakthrough, we do Agriculture in Our Own Way
Challenged rural village is helped by the Dapu Cooperative in industrial transformation
Situated in the northernmost part of Pintung County, Gaoshu Township was a typical rural area where was full of abundant agricultural products and produced tropical and subtropical greens and fruits. However, in 2002 because Taiwan joined WTO, the agricultural products there had to deal with fiercer competition in the market.
Most population at Dapu, Gaoshu Township is the Hakka people whose tradition on agricultural products pickling is famous. In light of this, in March 2004 under the support of “Gaoshu Vitality Mall” in Regional Industrial Exchange Center, Pintung County, Ms. Chung Chiu-Hsiang and some senior leaders in the community together formed the “Forever Young Team”.
The purpose of forming this team is to package and sell agricultural products of Gaoshu Township with community development in mind. In October 2004, the team officially registered as “Dapu Agriculture Product Cooperative in Gaoshu Township, Pingtung County” (hereinafter referred to as “the cooperative”), developing towards a business organization in the community.
To increase the added value of agricultural products by combing local resources
The “Multiple Employment Promotion Program (MEPP)” held by the Ministry of Labor (MOL) to assist the employment of vulnerable groups supported the cooperative. With the manpower from MEPP, the cooperative found its position at the market of processed agricultural products and scratched the outline for future development in Goshu Township
The cooperative makes all kinds of fruit vinegar by using fruits purchased from local farmers. Locally grown vegetables are also processed into pickles jars. Among them, “Qing Chun Niang” (Youth Brewage) is the best-selling product of the cooperative. Other than tasty and healthy, the products of cooperative are with exquisite packaging and competitive design in the market. Besides, through implementing the “Agriculture Transformation and Industrial Marketing: A New Look on Rural Village Program” approved by MEPP, MOL, the cooperative is able to combine the traditional picking culture into select agricultural product development, creating its own brand to boost up local economics.
As for financial independence, since the cooperative has accumulated sufficient cash reserves, its flexibility on capital enlargement, product development, marketing and sales is pretty sufficient. Besides, for employee empowerment, the Cooperative offers employees training opportunities in soil testing, production techniques, chemical agent control for agriculture utilization, operation of the farming equipment, farm management, and so on. The cooperative also actively attended other professional courses offered by the Council of Agriculture and local governments in order to enhance professional knowledge in financial planning, industrial construction and others. The on-site training is also added in to strengthen employees’ vocational capability.
The cooperative has done a great effort in community friendliness. In addition to establishing tight bonding with local farmers, the cooperative joined in discussion of crops growing plan of the locals and even voiced their feedbacks for refined agricultural policies for them. The Cooperative also got the seniors and mid-aged people engaged in the agricultural product processing, offering an opportunity for them to demonstrate their traditional pickling skills and make a decent living. Through which, their need for self-realization is also fulfilled. Moreover, the Cooperative came up with the innovative idea of “account passbook for crops” which is expected to improve product quality, maximize the capacity of mass production and its scale, stabilize local produce supply and demand, and protect the interests of local farmers. The Association also initiated Traceable Agriculture Product (TAP) system for multiple crops and teamed up with Union Rice for the pilot program of “Dream Beauty” rice, and helped the “Gaoshu good rice” production and marketing teams do the TAP inspection and verification.
The Cooperative not merely serves as a communication liaison role between farmers and the government, but also maintains a good partnership with both. Over the years, it has grown with local farmers while assisting the local in the transformation, refining and marketing of their agricultural products. It gave the traditional rural villages a new life and helped its transformation successfully and thus the new breeze has come into Dapu, Gaoshu Township!