慈心基金會:為有機找活路

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2012 / 9月

文‧陳歆怡 圖‧慈心有機農業發展基金會提供


推動有機志業近20年,與里仁公司宛如兄弟檔、攜手並進的慈心有機農業發展基金會,是國內第一大輔導有機農產品認證的專業機構;到去年為止,由慈心驗證通過的有機農地達1,512公頃,占全台有機農地的31.75%,成果斐然。

近年,慈心把重心轉移至教育推廣與生態保育,希望啟動更大範圍的人心療癒,也為有機事業耕耘厚土。


在里仁的貨架上,可以看到有些蔬果或農產品貼著獨特的「綠色保育」標章,標章圖案呈田字型,分別嵌入蛙、鳥、動物及人類的足跡,代表農田可以容納不同的生命,彼此共榮。

店務人員會告訴你,只要支持這些蔬果,就可以幫忙守護許多保育類動物的家!像是「買台南官田菱角救水雉、買台北三芝蓮花救赤蛙、買高雄茂林芒果救紫斑蝶,買坪林淨源茶救翡翠樹蛙等。」

綠色保育標章是慈心基金會去年與農委會林務局合作推出的驗證機制,跟有機標章可以並置,也可以單獨成立,意義在於「讓生產與生態雙贏」。

慈心基金會執行長蘇慕容解釋,有機驗證標章已是消費者購買有機產品時的主要辨別依據,然而,在某些慣行農區,即便有心改種有機,也因為面積小、人力少,很難避免遭鄰田汙染,估計短期間無法通過驗證。因此,這套「中間路線」的驗證方法,藉由放寬有機驗證中對「農地充分區隔」的限制,並新增保育野生動物的指標,希望鼓勵更多人轉向友善耕作,為有機奠基礎。為了推廣,今年內申請綠保認證完全免費。

凌波仙子喊救命

第一個獲得綠保標章的農產品,是去年10月開始在里仁鋪貨的台南官田菱角,保育對象是水雉。台灣水雉是世界上8種水雉中,唯一在繁殖季節會新生亮麗羽色的品種,喜愛活動在有浮葉植物的水澤地區,長長的尾羽,輕盈地在浮葉上行走或飛翔,飄逸美麗,因此博得「凌波仙子」的美稱。但隨著都市開發與環境破壞,目前僅能在台南八掌溪至曾文溪間平原區域的水澤發現,數量僅存三百多隻,其中約二百五十多隻棲息在稻、菱輪作的水田。

其實,水雉正是啟動綠保標章計畫的源頭。原因是近年官田農民為了降低生產成本,開始以「直播稻穀」(不經育秧,把稻穀直接播種於田間)取代插秧,為了避免穀粒被麻雀啄食,會將種子預先拌入農藥,結果是導致水雉與其他水鳥誤食而亡;農友們也長年以傳統用藥方式防治稻、菱病蟲害。這個生態危機被林務局保育組技正林慶華注意到,他主動邀請慈心基金會合作,希望輔導產業轉型。

早在十多年前,林慶華在台北市立動物園動物組任職時,就與慈心結緣,當時他為了搶救棲息在三芝、瀕臨絕種的台北赤蛙,遊說當地擁有2甲地的老農楊文石改以不施農藥的方式種蓮花,勸說不成下,邀慈心共商良策。慈心以擅長的溫情攻勢,包括義工輪班替阿伯拔雜草、照顧菜園,關心阿伯長年與農藥為伍而衍生的病痛,將轉型初期的蓮花帶到基金會促銷等,終於牽成一樁美事。

如今,阿石伯有機蓮花已是里仁台北店面的特色產品,雖然花苞較小,卻可觀賞、可沖泡成花茶,還可把花莖黏液當作保養品塗抹。這個案例現已被國際組織「世界動物園暨水族館協會」列為亞洲保育代表。

有機修練

不同於復育台北赤蛙的經驗,牽動水雉命運的官田農友有上百位,整合難度更高。經過多次說明會與現場溝通,目前雖然僅有17位農友願意投入保育計畫,耕作面積合計9.04公頃,已向前邁進一大步。

農友王寶文說,這群參與者在當地被笑是瘋子,「其實6年前我也嘲笑過率先栽培有機菱角的朋友,因為一旦不用化肥,立刻得面對減產甚至沒有收成的困境。」王寶文這次是抱著收成減少一半的決心,咬牙投入。女性農友陳錦則說,不施農藥後,田間工作增加了,包括割草、抓福壽螺的卵、在田邊圍網防止鄰田汙染等,每天手都沒有停歇過。

轉型過程也有許多摸索。例如,常把菱角葉啃光光的金花蟲,天敵是台北赤蛙,但農友先前為了防治福壽螺,在田裡養了太多綠頭鴨,把蛙族一併吃光光,才讓金花蟲有恃無恐,解決之道是請走熱心過頭的綠頭鴨,讓生態系漸趨平衡。

推動有機緩慢又辛苦,農友無不希望留一片健康的土地給子孫,也讓菱角產業永續發展。有農友說:「我一把老骨頭常病痛,換成有機耕種方式,看看能否改善。」眾人驚喜的是,不施農藥及化肥後,原本枯燥寂靜的田園轉為蟲鳴鳥叫大合唱不絕,田間空氣變清新,身心也舒暢起來。

善的循環

官田模式也帶來漣漪效應。今年,台北坪林幾位茶農將申請到綠保標章,除了復育翡翠樹蛙,也為水庫集水區的水土保持貢獻心力;台東一群從事有機栽培的農友,也樂於申請綠保標章,分享他們生機盎然的田園生活。

蘇慕容說,如今國內認證制度已趨完備,專業認證機構也很多,慈心更該跳出來開創新局,也樂於扮演輔導產業轉型的觸媒。

舉例而言,兩年前慈心毅然承接太魯閣國家公園管理處的委託,協助園區內世居的西寶部落原住民轉型有機。經過一年多的搏感情、資源整合到技術輔導,西寶部落首批通過驗證的有機高麗菜進入有機通路,產量是慣行生產的7成,售價卻更優,讓農民的信心大增。如今南投東埔的原民部落也跟慈心展開合作,希望讓經濟與保育雙贏。

蘇慕容表示,慈心許多前瞻計畫能夠順利進行,有賴里仁通路以保證價格收購產品,且有許多深具理念的消費者在默默護持。「只要生產者、銷售者、消費者都願意誠心付出,最終人人都能受益,也能促成善的循環。」

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EN

TOAF: Making Organics Viable

Chen Hsin-yi /photos courtesy of courtesy of TOAF /tr. by Chris Nelson

Working hand in hand with Lee­zen in organics promotion for nearly 20 years, Tse-Xin Organic Agricultural Foundation (TOAF) is Taiwan’s biggest certifying authority for organic farm produce. As of 2011, a total of 1,512 hectares of arable land, or 31.75% of Taiwan’s organic farmland, is TOAF certified.

More recently, TOAF has shifted its focus to education and ecological conservation, hoping to inspire a wider range of people and break fertile ground for the organics industry.


On Lee­zen’s shelves, one can see some produce bearing a special “Green Conservation” mark. The mark is in the form of the Chinese character 田 (tian), meaning “field,” with the four quadrants bearing footprints of a frog, bird, mammal and human, symbolizing the variety of life that fields can accommodate, to mutual benefit.

Shopkeepers will tell you that by buying such produce, you can help protect the habitats of numerous protected species! For example, you can buy Guan­tian water caltrops to save the pheasant-tailed jacana, San­zhi lotuses to save the two-striped grass frog, Mao­lin mangos to save the purple crow butterfly, or Ping­lin Pure Spring Tea to save the emerald green tree frog.

The Green Conservation Mark is an authentication system jointly launched last year by the TOAF and the Council of Agriculture’s Forestry Bureau. It can be placed alongside another organic mark or it can stand alone; either way, it signifies a win-win for production and the environment.

TOAF CEO Su Muh-rong explains that the organic certification mark is a chief criterion by which consumers can pick out organic products when shopping. But in certain areas that cling to regular farming methods, even farmers willing to go organic find it hard to stave off pollution from neighboring fields, especially given low acreage and manpower. Consequently they’re unable to secure certification in the short term. The Green Conservation Mark, on the other hand, has less stringent rules on the isolation of organic farmland, while also incorporating rules regarding wildlife conservation. This certification approach aims to encourage more people to convert to friendly farming methods, laying a foundation for organics.

The jacana cries for help

The first agricultural product to earn the Green Conservation Mark was the Guan­tian water caltrop, which Lee­zen began distributing in October 2011. The target of conservation is the endangered pheasant-tailed jacana (Hydro­phasianus chirurgus). In Taiwan, this bird is currently found only in the swampy plains between the Ba­zhang and Zeng­wen Rivers of Tai­nan, with a population of around 300, some 250 of which roost in the paddy fields used for growing rice and caltrops.

In fact, the jacana is what originally inspired the Green Conservation Mark program. To lower production costs, farmers in Guan­tian in recent years started directly sowing seed rice (instead of first raising seedlings and then transplanting them). To prevent the seeds from being eaten by sparrows, they would first mix them with pesticides, resulting in the deaths of jacanas and other waterfowl that ate them. This ecological disaster was noticed by Forestry Bureau Conservation Division technician Lin Qing­hua, who soon thereafter sought the cooperation of TOAF in hopes of helping transform the industry.

Lin forged a relationship with TOAF just over a decade ago, while working for the Taipei Zoo. At the time, he was trying to convince elderly Sanzhi farmer Yang Wenshi, who owned a couple hectares of land, to stop using pesticides on his lotuses in order to save the habitat of the endangered two-striped grass frog (Hylarana taipehensis). When that didn’t work, he talked to TOAF to see what could be done. TOAF used its well-practiced “charm offensive” approach to win over the farmer, including providing volunteers to pull weeds and look after his vegetable gardens, expressing­ concern about ailments that may be caused by long-term exposure to pesticides, and transporting lotuses harvested during the initial conversion stage to the foundation for sale. In the end, they succeeded beautifully.

Organic cultivation

In contrast to this effort to save the two-striped grass frog, there are over 100 farmers in Guan­tian affecting the fate of the pheasant-tailed jacana, making it more difficult overall. Numerous meetings and on-site discussions took place, and though only 17 farmers are currently willing to take part in the program, the resulting total of 9.04 hectares of farmland is a major step forward.

Farmer Wang Bao­wen says that these participants were ridiculed as crazy: “In fact, six years ago I also laughed at a friend who had decided to grow organic water caltrops, because once you stop using chemical fertilizers, you’re immediately faced with lower yields, or even no harvest at all.” This time, Wang is gritting his teeth and participating, even if it means his harvest will be reduced by half. Farmer Chen Jin says that her field work increased after she stopped using pesticides: weeding, removing apple snail eggs, building barriers to keep out contamination from neighboring fields, and so forth; this keeps her hands busy every day.

Going organic is a slow and arduous process. All farmers would like to leave plots of wholesome land to their children, and sustainable water caltrop farming is a good way to do it. One farmer said, “My old bones often ache, and I hope to see some improvement by going organic.” What surprised everyone was that after they stopped applying pesticides or chemical fertilizers, the once drearily silent fields came alive with a chorus of buzzing insects and chirping birds, the air around the fields became cleaner, and the farmers felt better both physically and mentally.

A virtuous cycle

The Guantian model gave rise to a ripple effect. This year, several Ping­lin tea farmers are applying for Green Conservation certification, not only helping to protect the emerald green tree frog (Rha­co­phorus pra­si­natus), but also contributing to water and soil conservation around the reservoir watershed. And in Tai­tung, quite a number of organic farmers are eagerly applying for Green Conservation certification so they can share their rural bounty.

Su Muh-rong says that Taiwan’s certification system is becoming well established, boasting many accredited certifying authorities. TOAF, serving the role of a catalyst for industry transformation, should persuade more farmers to go organic.

For instance, two years ago TOAF took on a commission by the Taroko National Park headquarters to help Aboriginal farmers in Sipaw Village, which lies within the park, go organic. After a year of urging, resource integration and technological assistance, Sipaw Village’s first organic product, cabbage, passed certification. With yields at 70% of standard farming and better prices, it was a boon to the farmers’ confidence. Now the Aboriginal village of Dongpu in Nantou County has begun cooperation with TOAF hoping to achieve a win-win for economy and conservation.

Su Muh-rong notes that many forward-looking TOAF projects are able to proceed well thanks to the Lee­zen channel ensuring favorable purchase prices and the quiet support of mindful consumers. “As long as producers, sellers and consumers are willing to do their part earnestly, everyone will benefit in the end, and a virtuous cycle will materialize,” says Su.

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