保證在地味!

──池上米的產地標章故事
:::

2010 / 1月

文‧王婉嘉 圖‧藍春曉


台灣名產豐富多樣,不僅是在地人的驕傲,也是遊客的最佳伴手禮。細數各地特產,不論是「九降風」吹拂下的新竹米粉、多雨濕涼而盛產金棗的宜蘭蜜餞,或是傳統藝品如鶯歌陶瓷、美濃紙傘、三義木雕……,林林總總,都與當地地理環境或人文風情,有著密不可分的關係。


而不論你是否身處當地,這些冠上地名的特產依然隨處可見,正如滿街高掛的「正宗」、「元祖」、「老字號」等招牌,孰真孰假?常讓人大感困惑,不知如何判定。

為此,經濟部智慧財產局和農委會共同推動,輔導各地特產申請註冊「產地標章」,藉由認證機制以杜絕仿冒。自2003年起實行,迄今已核准23件,遠近馳名的「池上米」,正是台灣第1件取得認證標章的案例。

初冬時節,造訪台東池上鄉,適逢二期稻作收割,廣闊稻田裡收割機隆隆作響,看著金黃飽滿的稻穗一粒粒躍進穀槽,是農民一年當中最歡喜的時刻。

笑稱自己打從娘胎起就下田、已有30年以上種稻經驗的林龍星說,池上鄉位於花東縱谷,少有大型工業污染,更具水質純淨、沖積土壤肥沃等地理優勢。

金黃稻米之鄉

由於地勢高(海拔平均260公尺)、日夜溫差大,在夜間自然低溫的狀況下,稻米成熟較晚,生長期延長,行光合作用的時間也拉長,使得澱粉中醣類增加,因而口感香甜,米質特色更能完全發揮。

「像這片稻田是台P2號品種,口感稍為硬實,適合年輕人;另一片是高雄139號,口感Q軟,適合老人家。就算同樣位於池上鄉,西邊靠近中央山脈屬石灰土,土質淺、成熟較快;不似東邊壤土,因土質較厚,肥料可積存於土裡,釋出時間較長,成熟較慢,所以兩邊要拿捏的耕作時間也不同,」林龍星如數家珍地說明。

也由於他對種稻的高度熱忱、自我精進,4年前曾代表池上鄉出征參賽,在全國良質米競賽中獲得冠軍,奪得「米王」頭銜。

問起種稻有何獨門訣竅?林龍星爽朗地說,「懂得觀察氣候」就是最大秘訣。像是氣象報告若說菲律賓上空有低氣壓形成,通常不出3天,低氣壓就會到台灣,造成豪雨或颱風,此時千萬不能施肥。因為雨水含有大量的氮,若再施氮肥,稻穀會因氮素過多而倒伏不起,也會因為日曬不足導致蛋白質過多,影響品質,「稻子會太重,看起來像喝酒醉啦!」

基於對農業的使命感,他曾自行改良設計,推出一款名為「龍星一號」的新式深耕犁。因舊款深耕犁具有翻土不夠深、且圓型底盤設計,易導致翻土時角度受限等缺點,而新式底盤則改為八爪並排形狀,不僅翻土時無死角,且深度由過去的2吋提高至4~5吋,翻土徹底,稻米品質也更好。

當時曾有廠商上門詢問機器是否能註冊專利並量產,林龍星卻一口拒絕,「不好不好,申請專利做什麼?這機器農民買一台(約7萬元)就可以用一輩子,我很歡迎大家多多利用! 」於是開放專利提供廠商製造。目前全台各農地皆可看見農民使用「龍星一號」耕作的身影。

米后傳奇

不同於林龍星的在地農夫經驗談,初見林翠蘭,說話輕聲細語、纖細白晰的樣貌,很難讓人聯想到,她是池上鄉2008年出爐的「米后」。在比賽奪冠後,再獲選農委會頒發的「全國10大經典好米」,更是當屆所有入圍者中年紀最輕(39歲)、也是唯一的女性。

林翠蘭原本在台北從事醫護工作,是典型的都市小姐,25歲嫁到池上後才開始務農,起初連鋤頭都不會拿、稻株和雜草也分不清,鬧過好幾次「拔稻留草」的笑話,但憑著一股不服輸的精神,一路種稻,種了14年。

雖然林翠蘭的先生高盛雄出身農家,但或許是當年年輕氣盛,不願聽長輩指點,一心只想用自己的速成方式耕種,灌溉稻田時,水源開了就走,水壓後勁不足也沒發現,又常一口氣加了太多肥料導致「肥傷」,如此匆促行事,成果當然不理想。

「不像現在一眼望去都是黃澄澄的稻穗,以前我們種的稻子因為施肥過多、氮素太多而站不直,加上病蟲害問題,一整片稻穗都是黑色的,還被取笑是『種到哪裡,黑到哪裡』!」林翠蘭頗為感慨地回憶。

高盛雄說,當時他們窮得常常借錢度日,「原本已經要放棄了,覺得自己浪費了十多年也不是辦法,是太太鼓勵我再試一下。」在林翠蘭的建議下,高盛雄參加當地的「池上米認證課程」,夫妻共同找出過去耕種方法的盲點,改善缺失。

「池上米認證課程」由地方人士組成的「池潭源流協進會」主辦。早在池上米獲得認證前,該會即自2002年起開辦「水稻農經班」,邀請有「台東水稻之父」之稱的稻米專家江瑞拱、留日農學博士洪梅珠等,教授「水稻的促、控、養」課程,不僅調教出多名池上鄉的「米王」、「米后」,更為日後的「池上米」標章申請打下了紮實根基。

認證標章雙贏

「池上米」標章規範的起草人、池上鄉稻米品質競賽推動委員會幹事張堯城回顧當年的申請緣由,由於池上米名聞遐邇,坊間仿冒品眾多,造成市場混亂,損害池上農民以及消費者的權益,公所早有認證標章的構想,但因無前例可循,光是鄉公所、農民、米廠等單位之間的協調,就花費了3年時間。

而在池上鄉內部取得共識後,正式向經濟部智慧財產局提出申請通過前,曾使用鄉公所舊有的「鄉徽」(結合池上地理特色花東縱谷、大坡池及金黃米粒圖樣)為池上米標章圖樣,推行了一段時間。但礙於一般消費者對鄉徽辨識度低,且屬公所自行發起推動,即使抓到仿冒品,也沒有公權力可以約束懲處。

「早年因為地名屬公共財,原則上是不能用來註冊的,因此提出申請案後,需要經過特別的討論審議,延宕了好一陣子,」張堯城解釋其中的曲折。沒想到最後為他們「解套」的,反倒是當初被農友視為大敵的WTO。

2002年元旦我國加入WTO,WTO協定中有一項「地理標示」(GI,geographical indication),即強調如果產品的品質、名聲或其他特性主要來自某個特殊的地理來源者,則其地名應該受到智慧財產權保護。

因此像是法國「香檳」及「干邑」地區生產的葡萄酒,雖尚未向台灣本地的主管機關提出註冊申請,但因同屬WTO會員國,台灣必須依循「地理標示」規範,不能允許任何人冒用。

而法國本土的「原產地名稱」(A.O.C.)保護制度更是歷史悠久。最早可追溯至15世紀,查理六世曾頒發特殊證書給「洛克福爾」地區的乳酪業者,1919年正式立法,後亦成立專門主管機關來監督執行。

美食家謝忠道也曾在《慢食》一書中提及,幾年前知名服裝品牌「聖羅蘭」(YSL)推出一款名為「香檳」的香水,引來法國香檳公會一狀告上法庭,後來裁定聖羅蘭敗訴,得改名、賠錢,引起國際矚目。

據我國智慧財產局統計,目前全世界共計有二十多個國家採取類似模式,以保障與某地名有密切連結的特殊工業財產權。為了與國際法規接軌,台灣也在2003年時正式立法通過,將「產地標章」列入商標法中。

標章的好處?

而「池上米」認證標章自2005年上路實行以來,目前池上鄉約1,500公頃的水稻面積中,已通過農藥及米質檢測、並具有提出池上米認證申請資格者約佔8成(475戶,共1,200公頃),但其中有部分農家因有自製品牌與不同的銷售管道而未加入,因此實際持有池上米標章者,約佔5成。

另外一至二成農戶,則是由於耕種土地為河川地或是承租地,在無法取得土地證明的情況下,被剝奪了加入的權利。

張堯城指出,對農民來說,「取得池上米認證的最大好處,就是利潤提高了一倍!」

在2002年以前,池上米仿冒品充斥,穀價每百台斤約1,000元;有了標章認證的尚方寶劍後,鄉公所大力查緝,與4年前上百種仿冒品相比,近幾年幾已銷聲匿跡,不見假貨蹤影,「池上米」的品牌形象才得以確立。

目前已完成認證的池上米,平均穀價每百台斤約1,650元,與其他鄉鎮相比,有近200元的價差,扣除成本費用,農民利潤約成長一倍以上。尤其像林龍星、林翠蘭等「米王」、「米后」級的好米,則保證有1,700元以上的行情,當屆獲獎時,每百台斤的收購價更可高達4,000元!

數據行事不馬虎

而究竟什麼樣的標準,才能通過池上米檢驗呢?同為池上米認證重要推手、池上鄉老字號「建興米廠」負責人梁正賢表示,除了必須是在池上鄉境內種植以外,池上米還須經過層層把關,從農民準備收割起,就是一連串的精密數字檢驗。

由於池上鄉一年兩期稻作,所以每年5月和10月左右,農友們便紛紛來到鄉內各定點進行登記,告知稻穀成熟、已準備收割,接著由米廠或公所派人到田裡取樣檢驗,確定農藥殘留值合格後才開始收割。而收割後的稻穀,需經測量「容重量」、「糙米完整粒」、「食味值」等數值,每個項目都馬虎不得。

所謂容重量,是指稻米的密度和比重,以每公升為測量單位,品質越好的稻米,重量越重、飽滿度越佳。要通過池上米認證標準,至少得達到每公升530公克,若超過560公克則列入一等米條件計算。目前獲認證的池上米容重量,平均值已達588公克,比起一般市售平價米約高出近40公克。

測量糙米完整粒,則是一次放1,000顆糙米進米粒判別機,運用類似照相機的光學原理,將欲測量米粒與內建的標準米粒圖像相互比對。電腦會依形狀分成完整粒、被害粒(米粒上有因病蟲害而造成的斑點)、碎粒(因太乾燥而碎裂的米粒)等6個類別。若1,000顆米粒中有超過60%的完整粒即過關,80%以上則屬一等米。

而食味值是以日本研發的食味計測量,計算米中的蛋白質和澱粉比例。通常若蛋白質及直鏈性澱粉含量越低、口感越佳。池上米低標為60分,75分以上屬一等米。目前一期稻作的平均值約74分,二期稻作因秋日陽光較少,約落在70∼72分之間。

「我們現在是全台灣唯一採用稻米分級收購、並且規定農民一定要填寫田間栽培紀錄簿的鄉鎮。」梁正賢解釋,由於自己早年曾受日本MOA自然農法訓練,深感稻米「生產履歷」的重要,因此大力推行倡導。一開始當然也遇過反對的聲音,老農民說自己種田種一輩子,「為什麼到老了還要浪費時間『寫功課』?」

後來他以最實際的價格理由來說服農民,初期不僅祭出「只要達到認證標準並且填寫紀錄,都可以用高於政府公定價(每百台斤1,380元)的價格賣給建興米廠」的優惠誘因,也與鄉公所合作舉辦米質競賽,鼓勵農民提高稻米品質。

尤其是優良品種的田間栽培紀錄簿,米廠更是完全無私開放,提供全台各地農民互相研究、學習,包括播種及收割的日期、使用的農藥、肥料種類和數量等,皆可從紀錄中一覽無遺。「光看紀錄,我們就知道這個農民的問題出在哪裡!」梁正賢補充。

此舉聲名遠播,連紀錄片《無米樂》的主角崑濱伯,都從台南後壁遠道而來借閱觀摩。也因數位化的科技流程輔助,池上鄉已可看見越來越多年輕農夫種稻的身影。這不僅是團體間互助力量的展現,也是一種令人尊敬的「職人」精神,而這份驅策大家努力不懈的榮譽感,正來自每一包米袋上的「池上米」三個大字!

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EN

Protecting Local Flavor:The Story of Chishang Rice's Geographical Origin Mark

Wang Wan-chia /photos courtesy of Lan Chun-hsiao /tr. by Chris Nelson

Taiwan boasts a sumptuous vari- ety of local specialty goods, bringing pride to communities and making superb gifts for tourists. Such sundry items are closely linked to local geography and culture, whether Hsinchu rice noodles caressed by autumn winds, Yilan candied fruits prepared from kumquats that thrive amid cool rains, or traditional crafts such as Yingge ceramics, Meinong paper umbrellas or Sanyi woodcarvings.


No matter where you go, local products can be seen everywhere. But amid myriad signs in the streets proclaiming "genuine," "prime" and "original," the question of which ones are real and which are fake is one that nags at people's minds.

In view of this situation, the Intellectual Property Office and the Council of Agriculture have jointly initiated a system for registering "geographic marks" for local products to combat fraud. Twenty-three applications have been approved since its inception in 2003, the best-known among them Chishang Rice, also the first example in Taiwan of the issuance of a "certification mark."

Early winter in Chishang Township, Taitung County, is the time of the year's second rice harvest, when harvesting machines rumble amid the expansive paddies. Seeing plump, golden ears of rice tumbling into grain bins makes this the most gratifying time of year for a farmer.

Jokingly claiming he has been farming since he popped from his mother's womb, Lin Longxing, with 30 years of rice-growing experience, boasts that Chishang Township, located in the East Rift Valley, is free of pollution from big industry and enjoys the advantages of pure water and rich alluvial soils.

Golden rice community

With the high elevation (an average altitude of 260 meters), large day/night temperature differences, and naturally low nighttime temperatures, rice matures later here, and enjoys an extended growth period. This lengthens the time available for photosynthesis, boosting starch content. As such the rice has a luscious mouthfeel, bringing out its full character.

"In this paddy we're growing the Taikeng 2 cultivar, which has a firm texture, suitable for younger people. In that one we have Kaohsiung 139, with a softer, chewier mouthfeel, better for older people. Rice grown in the western side of Chishang Township, adjacent to the Central Mountain Range with its shallow, limy soil, allows for faster maturing. On the other hand, in the thicker, loamier soil layers of the east side, fertilizer can be stored up in the soil. This is released over longer periods, allowing for slower maturing. Therefore the growing periods are different in the two sides," Lin explains, clearly familiar with the subject.

With his passion for rice farming and his enterprising spirit, he represented Chishang Township in the National Rice Competition four years ago and won first prize, earning him the title of Rice King.

Asked about tricks of the trade, Lin replies candidly that the greatest secret is, "You have to know the weather." For example, if weather reports say there's a depression forming over the Philippines, usually the depression will arrive in Taiwan three days later in the form of torrential rains or a typhoon. At such a time, you should never apply fertilizer. Rainwater contains high levels of nitrogen, and applying nitrogenous fertilizer leads to excessive nitrogen in the rice, rendering the plants unable to stand erect. This, combined with low levels of sunlight, creates too much protein, adversely affecting quality. "The rice plants droop, looking like they're drunk!"

The Rice Queen's tale

In contrast to Lin Longxing with his farming experience, when you first meet Lin Cuilan with her gentle voice and slender, fair-skinned appearance, it's difficult to imagine that she was Chishang Township's Rice Queen of 2008. After taking the crown, her rice was chosen by the Council of Agriculture as one of Taiwan's top 10 classic rices. At 39, she was the youngest contestant that year, and the only woman.

Lin Cuilan used to be a healthcare worker in Taipei, a typical city girl. She started farming only after marrying and moving to Chishang at age 25. At first she didn't even know how to hold a hoe and couldn't tell the difference between rice and weeds. Despite repeatedly being teased for pulling up the wrong plants, she clung to her never-say-die attitude and has now been growing rice for 14 years.

Though Lin's husband Gao Shengxiong was raised in a farming family, perhaps due to youthful arrogance he wouldn't heed his elders' advice, instead carrying on with his own hasty farming style. When working the paddies, he'd turn on the water source and leave, unaware that there was insufficient water pressure. Then, in one go, he would add too much fertilizer, causing fertilizer burn. Such rushed actions yielded less-than-stellar results.

"Unlike the golden ears of rice you're looking at right now, back then the rice we planted didn't stand erect because of too much fertilizer and nitrogen. And with blight problems, the entire field turned black. They laughed at us, saying that whatever we touched turned black," sighs Lin as she thinks back to those days.

Gao relates that they were so poor back then that they often had to borrow money to survive. "I wanted to give up; I felt I had wasted over a decade with nothing to show for it. But my wife encouraged me to try one more time." At Lin Cuilan's suggestion, Gao took part in a local Chishang Rice certification course, and the two of them reviewed where they had gone wrong in the past to iron out their problems.

The course was offered by the locally organized Chitan Headwaters Association. Back before Chishang Rice was officially recognized, the organization started offering classes in rice agriculture and economics in 2002. Rice expert Chiang Jui-kung, dubbed "the father of Taitung rice," and Hong Mei-chu, who holds a doctorate in agriculture from a Japanese university, gave lectures in how to cultivate rice and manage rice farms, training many Chishang Township Rice Kings and Queens, and paving the way for the application for protection of the Chishang Rice appellation.

Certification marks

Zhang Yaocheng, drafter of the Chishang Rice appellation regulations and member of the Chishang Township Rice Quality Competition and Advancement Committee, recalls the reasoning for submitting the application. Given the far-reaching renown of Chishang Rice and the number of imitators around, there was confusion in the market, harming Chishang farmers and the interests of consumers. The township administration had conceived of the concept of a certification mark, but with no precedents to follow and the necessity of coordinating between the township administration, farmers and rice companies, it took three years to complete.

"Early on, because place names were public property, we couldn't register the name Chishang in principle. After submitting our application, special deliberation was necessary, and this was delayed a long time," says Chang, describing the tortuous process. They had no idea that the problem would soon be solved by what was perceived by the farmers as an enemy: the World Trade Organization.

Taiwan entered the WTO on New Year's Day of 2002. Among the WTO protocols is an item concerning "geographical indications," stressing that if a product's quality, reputation or other pertinent characteristic comes from a specific geographical source, then its place name is protected intellectual property.

Therefore, although wines and spirits produced in the Champagne and Cognac regions of France are not registered with Taiwan's government, Taiwan, as a WTO member state, must abide by the regulations on geographical indications, not allowing anyone to create imitations.

The French appellation d'origine controlee (AOC) has a storied history. Its origins can be traced back to the 15th century, when Charles VI granted special certification to the cheese producers of the Roquefort region. The modern law was officially enacted in 1919, and a special authority was created to oversee and enforce it.

Gourmet author Hsieh Chung-tao mentions in his book Bon Appetit that renowned clothing brand Yves Saint Laurent unveiled a perfume named Champagne some years ago, provoking growers from the Champagne region to go to court. YSL lost the case, and was ordered to change the name and pay damages, drawing worldwide attention.

According to Taiwan's Intellectual Property Office, to date more than 20 countries have adopted a similar standard, protecting the rights of specific industries linked to place names. To abide by international regulations, Taiwan in 2003 officially incorporated the "geographic mark" into its trademark laws.

The mark's advantages

The Chishang Rice certification mark was implemented in 2005, and now around 80% (475 farms totaling 1,200 hectares) of Chishang Township's 1,500 hectares of rice paddies qualify for Chishang Rice certification, having passed pesticide and quality tests. But some farmers among them have not joined, instead selling under their own brand names or via other sales channels; thus only about 50% actually hold the Chishang Rice mark.

Furthermore, 10-20% of farming households farm on river beds or leased land, and as such are unable to acquire land titles; these are deprived of the right to join.

Says Chang, regarding the farmers, "The greatest benefit of securing Chishang Rice certification is that it doubles their profits!"

Before 2002, there was a flood of imitation Chishang Rice. The price was only NT$10 per catty (600 grams). Once the certification mark was granted, the township administration carried out a massive crackdown. Four years ago there were over 100 imitators, but now they have pretty much vanished from the scene. With no traces of fake goods, the brand image of Chishang Rice has become firmly established.

Now the average price of certified Chishang Rice is NT$16.5 per catty, nearly NT$2 more than in other townships. After deducting expenses, the farmers' profits are twice what they had been. Rice grown by the Rice Kings and Queens like Lin Longxing and Lin Cuilan fetches prices upwards of NT$17, and when awards are conferred, purchase prices can be as high as NT$40 per catty!

Up to snuff

What standards must be met to pass the Chishang Rice certification? Liang Zhengxian, an important promoter of Chishang Rice certification and head of the venerable Chishang firm Jian Hsing Rice Factory, explains that besides having to be grown in Chishang Township, Chishang Rice has to meet strict standards, undergoing a series of tests at harvest time.

Since there are two harvests a year in Chishang, around each May and October, the farmers come into town to register, declaring that their crops are ripe and ready for the harvest. Next, the rice factory or the township administration sends inspectors to take samples from the fields to determine whether pesticide residues are below the minimum level. If so, the harvest may commence. The harvested rice is checked for test weight, the unpolished grains are inspected for wholeness, and the rice is tasted. Any substandard scores in these areas, and the rice is rejected.

The term "test weight" refers to density and specific gravity of the rice. For one unit volume of rice (a liter in this case), the greater the weight, the plumper the rice and the better the quality. To pass the Chishang Rice certification standard, one liter must weigh at least 530 grams. If it weighs more than 560 grams, it is listed as top-grade rice. The average test weight of certified Chishang Rice is 588 grams, some 40 grams more than average rice on the market.

Measuring the wholeness of the unpolished grains involves placing 1,000 grains into a grain differentiator, in which images of the grains are optically compared to a standard size. A computer then classifies the grains into six categories, including whole grains, insect-damaged grains and grain fragments. The rice passes if more than 60% of the grains are counted as whole; if over 80%, then it is top-grade rice.

The taste test was developed in Japan to determine the ratio of protein to starch. Usually, the lower the protein and amylose content, the better the mouthfeel. The minimum standard for Chishang Rice is 60 points, and 75 or above counts it as top-grade rice. The average value during recent spring harvests has been 74, and for fall harvests it has fallen between 70 and 72 due to less sunlight.

"We are currently the only township in Taiwan that sells rice according to grade, and which requires farmers to record plantings and harvests in a ledger," Liang explains. From his prior training by the Mokichi Okada Association in Japan long ago, he is well aware of the importance of keeping a rice production log, and as such he became a major advocate. "At first it met with some resistance. Old farmers said that that they had been growing rice all their lives, so now why must they waste time doing 'homework'?"

So then he used the most practical means of persuading the farmers. He enticed them by saying, "As long as you meet the standards for certification and keep the records, you'll be able to sell your rice to Jian Hsing Rice Factory for above the government-set price of NT$13.8 per catty," and he also organized with the township administration a rice quality competition to encourage farmers to boost the quality of their rice.

The rice company was especially generous when it came to ledgers for superior cultivars, providing comparative data from farmers all over Taiwan, including planting and harvesting dates, pesticides used and fertilizer types and quantities, which can be taken in at a glance. "We know where a farmer's problems are just by looking at the records," adds Liang.

The renown of this method was such that even Huang Kun-bin, subject of the documentary Let It Be, traveled all the way from Houbi in Tainan County to learn more about it. And with the help of digital technology, more and more young farmers can be seen growing rice in Chishang Township. This is not just a manifestation of the power of teamwork, it is also a sign of admirable professionalism. And the sense of honor driving them to work hard comes from the name "Chishang Rice" emblazoned on each sack!

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