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[2020-11-3] Aohua Village seeks for the industrial transformation of community by beekeeping
Responding to the need for village development, the “Rural Revitalization Act” has been implemented by the government, a bottom-up system of participation, focused on the balance between life, produce, and ecology development, explored the local specialty, and created the sustainable development of the community. In 2013, Aohua Village started to conduct the Rural Revitalization Plan and also established a workgroup that has 21 people on October 31st 2017, that led the community industry development which is their major task. Besides, Prof. Yi-Ling Chen (陳怡伶教授), a professor from the National Ilan University Department of Biotechnology and Animal Science, and her group were delegated by Ilan County Government in April 2020 to the village to have lessons for the villagers and to teach them how to keep bees.

In the past 30 years, the major crop in Aohua Village was loquat (Eriobotrya japonica), but based on the difficulty of management, now only under 10 households still maintain cultivating loquat. The majority of farmers changed to crop the whole grains which have short-term periods of cropping, for example: pumpkin, corn, sweet potatoes, taro, sugar cane, Xiaomi (foxtail millet), and so on. Apart from the whole grains, farmers in Aohua Village were recommended to keep bees by the NIU group, appointed by the government which has been pushing the policy of “Under-forest Economy ”, evaluated the field and found that the village is appropriate to plant flowering plants, for instance, qilixiang, Bidens, tung oil, grapefruit, etc., providing the honey to the bees in the whole year, and also promoting the economic value of agricultural products, said by Cong-Ming, Huang.

Huang said that in April,2020, 16 villagers in the village registered a beekeeping lesson. Mainly to let the villagers understand the habits of bees first, and those who joined the activity need to pay 10 thousand dollars to buy bees, beekeeping box, basic materials, and related equipment. The process of feeding bees has experts to teach and help removing all kinds of difficulties.

“My family has planted loquat fruit and every kind of fruit trees, and I used to see bees building at home and bees coming in and out of honey every day. Therefore, I joined the beekeeping study to increase the pollination rate of my own fruit trees.” said Liu Zixuan, a director of the Maple Creek Aboriginal Sustainable Promotion Association. However, she lacked beekeeping experience at the beginning, the bees of the first of bee box run out. she is now a friend to raise bees, bee stable breeding, she is pleased.

“Beekeeping needs to accumulate experience and skill in a long-term.” Huang said, to expand the exchange beekeepers experience and share, the village and the county also promote the under-forest economic beekeeping program of the Dongshan Township Dajin Village, Datong Township Leshui Village and Reef Creek Township Yulun Village and other four communities to form a joint beekeeping alliance. Usually can exchange beekeeping ideas with each other, also Ilan University beekeeping teacher guidance, jointly promote the transformation and development of the community, hoping to become the village's future major industrial characteristics.

In order to let bees to have more origins of honey and increase the agricultural produce diversity and additional value. Huang also took the villagers to Hsinchu County, the Naro tribe to observe the technology of growing vanilla in the area, hoping to increase the village's existing variety of agricultural products, such as thyme, chamomile, wax chrysanthemum ... and so on. He said in excitement, vanilla is a cash crop, it is not only flowers and pollen, but also can be made into tea bags, refined essential oils, handmade soaps, conditioning ingredients, etc. Just in line with the forest economy beekeeping industry, vanilla tea combined with forest honey, the added value of the two also increased.

The first to plant vanilla is the villager Deng-Huang, Liu, who is not only a representative of the South Australian villagers, but also the current chairman of the Maple Creek Aboriginal Sustainable Promotion Association, he mentioned that he was originally planted loquat tree, in 2018,he began to try to plant vanilla, including gold and silver flowers, blue children, rose grass ... He plants different vanilla according to different seasons, including gold and silver flowers with a longer flowering period, it is not only use to make tea but also as a spice. At the same time, he also joined the ranks of beekeeping, hope that every season bees have a different nectar to pick, so that is the most natural nectar, very competitive in the market.

The transformation of each traditional industry is not as easy as most people imagine. What's more, when it comes to issues such as the output of agricultural products, processing technology, and investment equipment, Deng-Huang, Liu said: ‘Any industrial transformation is a constant attempt at the beginning, and it must face failure while learning.’ However, what the village is currently facing is the inability of the villagers to work together, coupled with the lack of manpower, and the lack of young people to invest in farming and marketing. This is where he feels most spared but lacks strength.

Deng-Huang Liu said not discouragedly that Aohua Village has its natural ecological environment and geographical advantages. The Aohua Waterfall within its jurisdiction is a well-known tourist attraction. Crossing the Zhuoshui River is the Taini DAKA Park in Xiulin Township, Hualien. Since the beginning of this year, Suhua after the opening of the Daqingshui Section (大清水段) of the Highway Mountain Section Improvement Project (Suhuagai for short), it will be more convenient to drive here from the north to engage in tourism activities. He must grasp the last two years of the association’s chairman’s term and continue to promote industrial transformation and integrate the tourism industry.
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