A renowned Hakka cultural area, Meinong is located in northeast of Kaohsiung City and north of the Pingtung Plain. With 4,000 hectares of fertile land, it plays an important agricultural role in Taiwan (Formosa). In the early 1990’s, thousands of hogs were being raised annually in this densely populated area. Consequently, the water supply in the District became severely polluted, and the foul smell of the pigs’ excrement lingered heavily in the air. Today, however, the pig farms have all disappeared, and farmers are growing food crops instead. Recognizing that pig farming was the primary cause of the water pollution, the government developed a policy to stop all hog raising in the area. After the Meinong District hog farmers agreed to stop raising pigs, the government helped them find alternative sources of income. Since then, the farmers have met with great success with many of their food crops.
“So, the local government simply guided these farmers to grow the famous Meinong cherry tomatoes as well as white jade radish, red beans, papaya, and recently, the guava. There has been a substantial growth in Meinong agriculture. In particular, the quality of our Meinong rice has won great esteem, always sold out.”
One of the most successful recently introduced crops is the white-water snowflake, a delicious and nutritious plant that is native to this area. Now frequently grown in abandoned shrimp ponds, the white-water snowflake has become widely cultivated in the district. “Later, we found that white-water snowflake has considerable economic value, especially since the growing of it would not be affected by the climate. Even when a typhoon hits, it can be harvested as usual, which is helpful to the farmers.” Not only have the farmers enjoyed good profits since transitioning from raising pigs to growing food crops, but all the citizens of Meinong District are also benefitting. “What can be witnessed straightaway is the improvement of the water quality in both the gutters and irrigation canals, which in turn contributes to the recovery and clean-up of the originally lucid streams and rivers. There is no more foul odor. Furthermore, a normal ecology is starting to revive with fish and shrimps beginning to reappear in places that used to be stinky gutters.” “When Meinong was raising pigs, there were very few tourists. With the transformation to green agriculture, the pollution of water, air and environment has been stopped. The number of tourists has thus increased.”