Sustainable Agriculture and Indigenous Community Development: Some Experiences in Taiwan

By Ai-Ching Yen and Yin-An Chen.

Published by The International Journal of Sustainability in Economic, Social and Cultural Context

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: April 24, 2014 $US5.00

This paper aims to investigate the efforts of indigenous communities in Taiwan through their practices of local knowledge on natural farming, which is advocated by a local indigenous preacher, to avoid the unsustainable outcomes of conventional farming. The spirit of natural farming is based on land ethics and seeks sustainable agriculture with locally-made healthy food rather than unsustainable agriculture that harms people and land health. In order to see how farming methods been transformed from conventional farming to natural farming which has been done or progressing by community people partially, this study takes Tayal indigenous community Quri as a case, and employs methods of literature review, in-depth interview for 12 people, and participatory observation during the period from 2009 to 2012. Quri Community is located on a mountainside of “Shihmen Watershed and its catchment” in Hsinchu County, Taiwan. Most of the local residents engage in farming but local land use has been restrained by the Soil and Water Conservation Act in response to landslides and the turbidity in the reservoir resulting from unsustainable farming practices. Indigenous residents have learned natural farming through workshops led by the indigenous preacher since 2009. As a result, social learning plays an important role in traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) and innovation for the technique of agricultural production. Though there are difficulties that need to be overcome, we observed that the communal self-governing action such as changing to natural farming greatly improved not only the economic and social condition, but recovered culture and ecological systems of the Quri Community.

Keywords: Sustainable Agriculture, Indigenous Community Development, Land Ethics, Natural Farming, Social Learning, Taiwan

The International Journal of Social Sustainability in Economic, Social and Cultural Context, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp.85-105. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: April 24, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.142MB)).

Ai-Ching Yen

Professor, Department of Land Economics, National Chengchi University, Taipei, Taiwan

I am a professor in Department of Land Economics, National Chengchi University. My research interests are broadly including funeral and interment land use, farmland policy, farmland institution, land resources management, common pool resources, national land planning etc. My current studies focus on agriculture mixed with forestry in National Taiwan University Experimental Forest and the development of natural farming operated in indigenous communities. I am currently running the project: "Study on Indigenous Reserved Lands, Indigenous knowledge, and Sustainable Development- Cases Study of Atayal Communities in Jianshin Township, Hsinchu County (I/III)." The paper I submit will contain part of my research results.

Yin-An Chen

PhD Student, Department of ethnology, National Chengchi University, Taipei, TW, Taiwan

I am a PhD student in Department of Ethnology, National Chengchi University, and I am also a PhD trainee belonging to Center for Geographic Information Science, Academia Sinica. My main study interests are about disaster and indigenous knowledge. Recently, I join Academia Sinica and be a PhD trainee to run "The Humanity, Society, and Economic Development as well as Natural Environmental Change in Chenyoulan River Watershed" Project with my colleagues, where Chenyoulan is the field I am going to introduce at this paper. My current works are fieldwork data collection and paper writing. We attempt to publish our findings in Chenyoulan River in the future.