農業連線‧台日共好

宮崎‧台灣塾
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2019 / 12月

文‧鄧慧純 圖‧莊坤儒


這是一場非典型的交流計畫,由日本九州宮崎縣政府支援、宮崎縣產業振興機構顧問高峰由美發想的「台灣塾」,面對台灣不了解的宮崎,和宮崎也不甚熟悉的台灣,不談出口,不談數字,不談交易,先從當朋友開始吧!

 


位在九州東南部的宮崎縣,人口約100萬,氣候溫暖宜人,產業以農作為主,是日本境內少數可生產芒果、荔枝的地方。除坐擁豐富的自然景觀,這邊亦是日本神話的起源地,物產跟環境都與台灣相似,若要比擬的話,許多人會說宮崎像極台灣的台東。

先當朋友吧

2016年10月,宮崎台灣塾塾長高峰由美在臉書留下「給親愛的台灣朋友們」一則訊息,她寫道:「台灣塾的目的並非只是想促進日本對台灣的出口,而是想深入認識並理解台灣,當台灣與日本成為具互信關係的合作夥伴之後,有哪些施力點?台灣塾要探索這種可能性。」

國際行銷是高峰由美的專長,每年藉著物產展,她來到台灣無數次了。熱愛台灣的她,還當起背包客環島旅行,只為了看到台灣更多的面貌。旅遊途中與原住民農家青年聊天,談到日本商品傾銷台灣市場,對台灣本土產業與商品造成的威脅,台日之間缺乏平等往來的關係,「這席話是我成立台灣塾最大的動機!」高峰由美說。

台灣和日本不只地理距離接近,兩國關係互動密切,但她心中思慮著:是否有其他形式能打破物產展單向的貿易形式,創造雙方共好的成果。

起初宮崎縣政府並不了解高峰由美想做什麼,但仍全力支援。她在2014年密集訪台,宣言要認識100位朋友,建立與台灣的連線。2014年底,台灣塾開張了。

之後的一年間,七次的互動交流,日本塾生到台灣參訪農家,台灣人也被邀請到宮崎,了解當地農事與制度。

任職於宮崎縣產業振興機構的藤藪志保,在計畫中協助企劃及聯繫工作,她印象深刻地回憶著,2015年4月從宮崎來台灣的參訪團,大家走訪了宜蘭、桃園後,回到台北舉辦發表會,每位塾生都要上台介紹自己的故事,讓台日雙方更熟悉彼此。宮崎的夥伴們還決定要用中文打招呼,所以大家不斷地練習「大家豪(好),窩(我)是○○○……」,發音或許不準,但是心意、笑果滿分。當天台下的觀眾熱烈的反應,讓宮崎的朋友得到信心,大家都說台灣人很直爽、親切。

從交流看見差異

台灣塾的交流,也體現彼此的見與不見。

來自日向市的橘農田中伸佳,在台灣的發表會上,堅持用不甚流利的英語發表,會前他死命地練習,還說學逗唱帶動現場氣氛,猜想他應該是團隊裡的開心果,但他說的卻是一個不快樂的農夫的故事。

家族擁有廣大的柑橘園,雖然在自然的環境中工作,但田中伸佳卻不快樂,感覺自己像是個生產機器,他想要多與消費者互動,想要實踐友善環境的種植,卻礙於現實難以實現。

日本農業協同組合(簡稱農協JA)有專業的分工,農家只需專注在生產,後續的銷售通路都由JA負責,嚴整的規矩,讓有心想突破改變的農家苦無伸展之處。

參加台灣塾是契機,田中伸佳藉此學習英文、多方閱讀,並認識了許多新朋友。來到台灣,他發現台灣農民的自由度高,能在自己的土地實踐夢想的理念。他也深受宜蘭青農賴青松的話語感動:「我是為了要將這個風景(農村景觀)留給子孫而務農的,」友善耕作的理念,正呼應田中伸佳心中一直以來想做的事:生產對環境友善的橘子。

「比起眼前的金錢,我們可以給社會未來留下什麼,或者可以創出什麼,這是我從台灣人那兒學到的,反而讓我覺得我在台灣遇到的農家觀念比日本先進。」田中伸佳說。

今年田中伸佳正式接棒家族企業,偌大的果園要改變還得一步步來,但他打算慢慢溝通,聚集理念相投的人,建立起模式,溫柔且堅定的改變世界。

幾乎每次出場都會帶著妻子日高亞矢設計的茶葉帽,搞笑登台的森本健太郎,是茶農第三代。他早早就離家赴東京發展事業,卻因為健康因素返回宮崎,剛好遇上家族茶園轉為有機耕作的時機,因緣際會的接下家業,並創立「もりもっ茶」品牌。

森本健太郎的茶園不使用任何農藥或化學肥料,採直接從大地獲取能量的自然栽培方法,是跟花、草、蟲、鳥共生,夏天還會有螢火蟲光臨的茶園。

來到台灣,與桃園茶農林和春交流,森本健太郎才發現揚名世界的台灣茶「東方美人」,是因小綠葉蟬吸食茶葉後產生化學變化,才帶有特殊的花果蜜香。知道這個訊息,森本健太郎狀作氣憤地揮了拳頭,有機栽培的茶葉難免有蟲來分食,他不甘心用心栽培的茶因此被認定為次級品,想到東方美人的例子,靈機一動,用被蟲咬過的茶葉製成「森のかほり茶」,搭配妻子設計的茶盒,和蟲蟲一起共享好茶的概念,吸引許多理念相投的消費者購買,也是從台日交流中開啟的新創意。

成為彼此的關係人口

或許有人會疑惑,這樣的交流能為雙方帶來多少獲益?

因應全球性的少子化與高齡化議題,日本政府近年高舉一級生產、二級加工、三級銷售三者相乘綜效的六級產業化大旗,各地方政府積極為在地產業找出路,而向海外出口是其一的解法。

但比起在商言商的交易,透過交朋友建立的關係或許能成就更多的可能性。

林事務所執行長、曾協助媒合台灣塾活動的林承毅說:「高峰由美的想法是要做雙向交流。」但這背後更深層的意義在於:「宮崎對台灣來說就代表著『日本』,日本這個符號在台灣有其先天優勢;台灣對宮崎來說,就是『國外』,宮崎不選擇往東京(國內)發展,而是走向國際,要讓宮崎被世界看見。」在這樣的相互作用下,地方選擇走向國際,與他國作連結,不一定要依附中央的政策,反而更有戰力。台灣塾的效應讓很多宮崎人認識台灣,也讓「宮崎」、「台灣」兩個地名,成為雙方只要瞥見都要多看一眼的特殊存在,成為相互的關係人口。

故事還在繼續

檯面上,台灣塾終止於2015年10月,但檯面下,人的連結卻是細水長流。

高峰由美稍微計算了一下,「到目前為止,我所協助、交流的人,實際上因台灣塾來台的人,以及計算從台灣來訪的客人加起來是5,627人。」這個數字不是KPI(編按:關鍵績效指標),是透過台灣塾而建立的關係人口,未來可能無限延伸的關係脈絡。

穀東俱樂部的創辦人賴青松,可說是宜蘭友善耕作的代言人。從日本學成歸國後,他返鄉務農,以提供居民安全、健康的食物為理念,他的作法啟發許多城市人追隨,也引起鄰近國家的好奇,中國大陸的海南島、香港、馬來西亞不約而同到宜蘭深溝村來拜訪,最後才是日本找上門。

「按道理講,日本農業技術、制度上都比台灣先進,以前我是到日本去學習,可是如果連日本人都跑來找我,對我是很大的鼓勵。」「如果日本可以主動走到台灣來,台灣或許可以走向全亞洲。」賴青松在心底籌謀。2015年底他發起「東亞慢島生活圈論壇」,邀集了日本宮崎、京都、香港、海南島及馬來西亞各地的專業人士,分享他們的農業嘗試。「首都式的雙城外交,對我們來說太遙遠了。但我們可以做的是地方跟地方的串聯,農民跟農民的連結。」透過人的連結,共思地方農業可能的未來,成為當下的進行式。

另一則故事發生在官方機構。2019年4月,在台灣花蓮、高雄、台中、台東、台南的農改場及農試所共六處成立「農產加值打樣中心」,仿效宮崎縣成立Food Open Lab的做法,由政府提供加工設備、技術,並輔導農民衛生安全規範,農民可先嘗試打樣再做後續市場評估。

財團法人農業科技研究院產業發展中心副主任林恒生說:「台灣是參考宮崎縣的形式,再因地制宜。」台日兩地加工服務的目標不同,「日本的目標是希望靠地方創生讓人留在地方,台灣的出發點是為了讓產品有通路,進而形成完整的產業聚落,成為在地的特色。」

以往,食品加工歸屬於經濟部管轄,食品安全又另屬衛福部規範,而今,正透過跨部會修法,將乾燥、粉碎、碾製、焙炒等初級加工分別出來,使農友可以在自家工廠進行初級加工,如此一來,協助農友解決產量過剩的問題,同時開發多元化產品,帶動鄉鎮發展的新機會。

採訪當天,我們見習來自南投的農友湯英華拿胚芽米糠來焙炒。進入加工室前,關於食品安全的SOP不可少,穿戴整套的工作服、髮網、口罩,洗手30秒,農改場的助理研究員蘇致柔逐一叮嚀。湯英華笑稱,因為喜歡吃餅乾,所以想試著把自家生產的稻米做成米餅,當作農旅的伴手禮。蘇致柔接收到需求後,親自研發,並帶領農友親自試做,再討論改良之道。

當天焙炒過程,除了設備的操作外,並記錄下相關數值,如時間、溫度等細項,作為農友日後的參考。整套流程透過實作讓未來農友自建食品加工室時可為依循,也為食品安全把關。

從一席話的啟發,到一群人一起走,一趟台灣塾的奇幻旅程,讓台灣與九州宮崎兩個原本隔海遙遙相望的兩個島,牽起了交流的緣分,成為彼此的關係人口,成就台日共好的現在進行式。

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EN

Forging Agricultural Ties:

Taiwan Juku

Cathy Teng /photos courtesy of Chuang Kung-ju /tr. by Scott Williams

“Taiwan Juku” was anything but a typical exchange program! Dreamed up by Yumi Taka­mine, a consultant with the Miya­zaki Enterprise Promotion Organization, and supported by the Miyazaki Prefectural Government, it didn’t focus on exports, business transactions or numbers, but on forging friendships between Taiwan and Japan’s Miyazaki Prefecture, which were previously largely strangers to one another.


 

Located in the southeastern part of Japan’s Kyushu Island, Miyazaki Prefecture has a population of roughly 1 million, a comfortable climate, and a largely agricultural economy. One the few places in Japan capable of growing mangoes and lychees, its produce and scenery are similar to Taiwan’s. In fact, many people say it strongly resembles Taitung.

Make friends first

In December 2016 Yumi Takamine, who headed the “Taiwan Juku” program, posted a note on Facebook for her “dear Taiwanese friends,” explaining, “The goal of Taiwan Juku isn’t simply to stimulate Japanese exports to Taiwan, but to deepen Japan’s understanding of Taiwan. What synergies will arise when Taiwan and Japan become cooperative partners sharing a trusting relationship?”

Takamine, a specialist in international marketing, had visited Taiwan many times for agricultural expos, chatting with young Aboriginal farmers about the dumping of Japanese produce on the Taiwan market, and the lack of equality in the Taiwan‡Japan relationship. “It was these conversations that motivated me to establish Taiwan Juku.”

She wondered if there was another approach that could disrupt the one-way street of expos, one that was good for both sides.

While the Miyazaki Prefectural Government didn’t immediately understand what she was proposing, it lent its full support.

Taiwan Juku “opened for business” in late 2014, with seven mutual exchanges over the following year. Japan­ese participants in the program visited farms in Taiwan, while Taiwanese visited Miyazaki, each seeking to better understand local farming methods and systems.

Shiho Fujiyabu, who works at the Miyazaki Enterprise Promotion Organization, recalls traveling to Taiwan with a group from Miyazaki in April 2015. She says they first visited Yilan and Taoyuan, then returned to Taipei for a meetup, during which all of the particip­ants took the stage to relate their individual stories and foster mutual understanding. The Miyazaki contingent had decided to introduce themselves in Mandarin, which led to every­one practicing how to say, “Hello, every­one. I’m….” Encouraged by the audience’s enthusi­astic response, they commented on the friendliness and directness of Taiwan’s people.

Exchanges reveal differences

The Taiwan Juku exchanges also demonstrated differences in things each side chose to reveal.

Orange grower Nobuyoshi Tanaka insisted on addressing the meeting in his less-than-fluent English, and used the four basic skills of traditional cross-talk to liven up the atmosphere. Listeners might have assumed he was the joker of the group, but the story he told was that of an unhappy farmer.

Tanaka’s family had large citrus orchards, but he was unhappy working there because, even though he was outdoors, the work made him feel like nothing but a piece of machinery. He wanted to interact more with consumers, and to implement environmentally friendly growing practices, but circumstances made that difficult.

The Japan Agricultural Cooperatives’ division of labor strictly delineates responsibilities within the production chain. Farmers are expected to focus entirely on crop production, which ties the hands of those like Tanaka who want to do more.

Tanaka saw his participation in Taiwan Juku as an opportunity to practice his English, learn new things, and make new friends. He found himself especially moved when a young Yilan farmer named Lai Cing-soong told him: “I farm so that I can pass these farmscapes on to my children and grandchildren.” Lai’s statement resonated with Tanaka’s own long-held desire to produce oranges in an environmentally friendly way.

“Rather than simply making money, says Tanaka, “I can leave something for the people of the future, or I can create something. That’s what I learned from people in Taiwan.”

Tanaka formally assumed control of his family business this year. Considering the large size of his orchard, he’s going to have to take any conversion of growing methods step by step, but he doesn’t mind. He plans to gather a group of like-minded people, devise a plan of action, and work gently but resolutely to change the world.

Kentaro Morimoto, a third-generation tea grower, got big laughs when he took the stage wearing a “tealeaf” hat designed by his wife, Aya Hidaka. 

Morimoto doesn’t use any pesticides or chemical fertil­izers on his tea plantation. Instead, he uses “natural farming” methods that enable the flowers, grasses, bugs and birds to coexist. He even has fireflies visiting in the summer!

After arriving in Taiwan, he met with Taoyuan tea grower Lin Ho Chun and learned that Taiwan’s famous Oriental Beauty tea owes its flavor to the bite of an insect called the tea jassid, which causes chemical changes that give rise to the tea’s unique flavor. The information inspired Morimoto to brand his insect-bitten tea, which had previously been classed as a lower-quality product. His wife then designed packaging for the brand around the concept of sharing the tea with the bugs, attracting many environmentally minded consumers.

Developing a relationship

But what benefits does this kind of exchange offer?

Relationships built on friendships open up a much broader range of possibilities than business-oriented transactions.

Takashi C.Y. Lin, CEO of Hayashi Office and a facilitator of the Taiwan Juku events, says, “Takamine was interested in bilateral exchanges.” He then explains the underlying significance of such exchanges: “To Taiwan, Miyazaki is Japanese. To Miyazaki, Taiwan is ‘international.’ Miyazaki doesn’t necessarily want to sell [its goods] to Tokyo; it wants to go international, to be internationally recognized.” When a place chooses to step out into the larger world and forge ties with other countries, methods that don’t necessarily accord with central government policy may provide a more effective means of doing so. Taiwan Juku has turned Taiwan and Miyazaki into each other’s preferred partners.

The story continues

Although Taiwan Juku wrapped up its formal opera­tions in October 2015, the interpersonal connections that it helped to shape remain.

Takamine thinks for a moment, then says, “So far, Taiwan Juku has enabled me to help 5627 people conduct exchanges, including Japanese visiting Taiwan and Taiwanese visiting Japan.” This figure isn’t a key perform­ance indicator, but rather is the number of people who built relationships through Taiwan Juku, and who will likely further extend their interpersonal networks in the future.

When Ko-Tong Rice Club founder Lai Cing-soong returned to Taiwan after completing studies in Japan, he took up farming in his wife’s hometown with the goal of providing locals with safe, healthy food. Many urbanites were taken with his methods, which in turn sparked curiosity in neighboring nations, drawing visitors from mainland China’s Hainan Island, Hong Kong, and Malay­sia to his farm in Yilan’s Shengou Village.

“I went to Japan to study when I was younger. Now, having Japanese people coming here to see me is very encouraging.” In late 2015, he dreamed up the “East Asian Island Time Seminar,” and invited experts from Hong Kong, Hainan, and Malaysia, as well as both Miyazaki and Kyoto in Japan, to share the agricultural ideas they were trying out. “We don’t have anything to do with formal diplomacy between capitals, but we can connect smaller places to one another, link farmers to other farmers.” For them, connecting people and thinking together about the likely future of local agriculture is a way forward.

In official institutions, another story is unfolding. In April 2019, six agricultural research and extension stations opened “agricultural value-added prototype centers” modeled on Miyazaki’s Food Open Lab. The centers help farmers develop new products and evalu­ate the market for those products, while the government provides processing equipment and technology, and assists with hygiene and safety standards.

Lin Heng-sheng, deputy director of the Business Promotion Center of the Agricultural Technology Research Institute, says that Taiwan has adapted the Miyazaki model to local needs, and notes that Taiwan and Japan have different goals for the processing of agricultural produce. “Japan’s objective is to use rural renewal to keep people in rural areas. Taiwan’s is to enable the distribution of local products, and through that encourage the formation of production hubs that become local highlights.”

On the day we visited the center, we saw a Nantou farmer named Tang Yinghua roasting rice bran. Following food safety practices, on the instructions of Su Chih-jou, an assistant researcher with the Taichung District Agricultural Research and Extension Station, we donned uniforms, hairnets and facemasks, and washed our hands for 30 seconds before entering the processing room.

The entire roasting process is being tested to provide farmers building their own food processing rooms with a template to follow, and to ensure the safety of the resulting product.

Beginning with conversations and then developing into groups working together, Taiwan Juku bridged the seas between Taiwan and Miyazaki Prefecture, forging connections that are still growing. This is a story that looks sure to continue.

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