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[2022-03-01] Atayal Professor Restores Makauy’s distribution and Develops Indigenous Industries.


PeoPo Citizen Journalism Report

There are many Atayal tribes in Datong Township and Nan’ao Township, Yilan County. Jin-Fa Wang, the host of Yilan University's Tayal (Datong and Nan-ao) Indigenous Tribal Industry Highlight Project, is also a member of the Lunbi tribe from Datong Township. Jin-Fa Wang has been focusing on tribal construction for a long time, and he hopes that every tribe can develop their local features.


Searching for the gene of the tribe and developing local creativity

Professor Jin-Fa Wan has long been caring the issue of tribal construction. Jin-Fa Wang said that in order to help the tribes with local creation development, we should understand the characteristics of each field and look for the fundamental gene of the tribe. In the project he presided over, he expected to achieve "to each village its own feature", rather than each tribe going into the same industry line. Only if each tribe has its local characteristics, the competitiveness of the local tourism industry can be improved.


There are ten tribes in Datong Township, Yilan County, with the Atayal tribe as the main group. Among them, Mao’an, Siji and Nanshan villages grow high-cold vegetables and are the main supply areas for Taiwan cabbage. However, the local industries of Leshui, Ying Shi, Song Luo and Lun Pi tribes are relatively scattered. Jin-Fa Wang and his team integrate specific local characteristics to help the tribe to create a regional revitalization.

A group photo of the Native Tribal Industry Highlight Project team. Photo courtesy of the Yilan University project team



Not just a spice: mountain pepper can also be used as a health product


“Mountain pepper” is a native spice of Taiwan. It is called "Magauy" in the Atayal language. Its fruit is widely used as traditional ingredients of the tribe, which is one of the characteristics of the native land. Kuo-Feng Hua, the chairman of the Department of Biotechnology and Animal Science at NIU, extracted the anti-inflammatory ingredients from the Magauy plant and developed health products such as facial masks and essence oil. Jin-Fa Wang said that in the past, Ma Gao was mostly used as a spice for food and drink, such as Magauy coffee, biscuits or bread, etc. However, its plants have multiple medical uses that can be developed. National Ilan University has a professional background in biotechnology. In the future, the essential oil, nectar, and other substances from mountain pepper will be extracted to develop massage oil or skincare products.

Skin care products made from Makauy. Photography / Da-Wei Lin


In light of the limited production of wild mountain pepper, the team develops restoration technology.

Magauy is not easy to germinate under artificial cultivation, the production of the “mountain pepper” is still mainly rely on wild plants collection. Jin-Fa Wang said that the over-exploitation of the natural environment and the wrong concept of collection have caused an ecological catastrophe for Magauy, resulting in fewer and fewer wild species.


Chin-Fa Wang and his team hope to develop an artificial planting technology of Magauy by rehabilitation, through the specialty of Chih-Hsin Chung, an associate professor of the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, cooperating with the Wufong Branch Station of the Council of Agriculture in Wufong Township, Hsinchu.


Lunpi tribe is located at low-terrain area with a convenient transportation, the township office is hence set here. However, Lunpi tribe does not have a very significant local industry. Chin-Fa Wang said that in the future, a seedling nursing center will be established with Lunpi tribe and the campus, with hope to help Lunpi tribe to create a unique local green economy.


Establishing Duan-mu mushroom marketing class promote high-quality food materials

In 2019, the forestry bureau of the Council of Agriculture promoted “the forest’s economy”, allowing farmers to grow cash crops and beekeeping under the forest. Among them, "Linden mushroom " is also an open economic crop under the forest’s economy. Chin-Fa Wang said that about 20 years ago, the cultivation of Linden mushroom changed the lives of many aborigines. It has a special aroma, which is different from the ordinary mushroom planted with container bags.


Driven by the policy of “the forest’s economy”, NIU assisted farmers in Nan'ao township to establish a marketing class of Linden mushroom. Chin-Fa Wang also said that in the past, the strains of Linden mushroom were of good quality; but in recent decades, due to climate and other factors, the quality of strains was weakened and were easy to lead to necrosis. CHIA-CHI Wu, associate professor from the Department of Horticulture, NIU, assisted in the marketing class in the activation and cultivation of strains, keeping the healthy strains breed in Nan'ao to reduce the occurrence of weakening, so that mushroom farmers can produce high-quality Linden mushroom.


In addition to setting up production and marketing classes in Nan-ao Township, NIU also assists mushroom farmers in post-harvest drying, processing, quality control and packaging design. From the design of the product packaging, one can see the local characteristic elements of Nan-ao. Zheng Pei-yi, the Nan-ao regional contractor who is in charge of the USR project said that the word "Qenu" on the package spells “mushroom” in Atayal. The blue, white and red lines below the word are the representative colors for the Atayal group in Nan-ao. Differ from the other Atayal tribes, the sapphire blue, which leans close to purple, is a unique color in the clothing of Nan-ao group. It highlights that the production of Linden mushroom in this section comes specifically from Nan-ao.


The look of Linden mushroom’s packaging. Photography / Lin Dawei


Jin-Fa Wang and his team help Datong and Nan-ao develop regional creation through the resources of the university and find local characteristics in each tribe. It is hoped that the introduction of these resources will activate the tribe's real estate industry. Even after leaving the site in the future, the local people have the ability to develop more tourism value on their own.


Interview side notes


The USR project of National Ilan University is still in its infancy, but after the interview, it was found that the content of the project is quite complete, with clear goals and future prospects. Also, because director Jin-Fa Wang has been paying attention to the affairs of the indigenous people for many years, he is quite familiar with the current situation and the needs of the original hometown. Moreover, he himself is from the Lunpi tribe of Datong Township. Therefore, the implementation and planning of the university's social responsibility in the original hometown can more accurately grasp the characteristics of the field.


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