傳統vs.現代

小米復耕在台灣
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2013 / 6月

文‧朱立群 圖‧林格立


小米是原住民傳統食物,也是文化的象徵。許多部落近年推廣小米復耕,希望能在經濟效益與振興文化之間,求取新的平衡。部落「小米風」,正在流行。


A-Ping是高齡73歲的原住民布農族阿嬤,在台東山上,家人都叫她「小米的老闆」。

A-Ping的家在台東縣海端鄉利稻村。這個位在南橫公路上、標高1,068公尺的布農族部落,是海端鄉內海拔最高的社區。

群山環繞的利稻,早年是健行旅客必經的補給站。2009年八八風災重創南橫之後,這裡更形與世隔絕。但也因少了遊客與提供食宿餐旅服務,利稻居民的生計回到單純的農業,除了高麗菜等具有高經濟價值的蔬菜,這裡也種芋頭、地瓜等部落傳統作物。

A-Ping從小就跟著長輩務農,即便這幾年也種青椒、敏豆,她與家人仍會留幾塊地種小米。

3年前,魯凱族男子Rungudru Pacekele從台北帶來幾包小米種子給A-Ping,並告訴她,這些是利稻以前種過,後來卻很少看到的小米。

滯美與歸鄉

Rungudru漢名巴清雄,目前是台灣大學農藝所博士生,工作十幾年後再回校園唸書,就是希望學成後能為原住民農業盡點心力。若不是他的指導教授郭華仁協助爭取,近百種小米種原至今可能還流落異國。

原來,1970年代,一位名叫韋恩‧佛格(Wayne Fogg)的美國年輕學者來台從事原住民生活調查,並發表文章指出,台灣本島山區的原住民有豐富的小米種植知識,懂得如何選種、育苗、防鳥、減低病蟲害,而在日據時代引進水稻之前,小米占原住民生活糧食的50%,重要性與需求量,遠勝芋頭、蕃薯、旱稻和玉米。

當時,佛格的足跡到過屏東、南投、台東及蘭嶼;趁進出部落之便,他把96批原住民小米樣本帶回美國國家引種工作站保存。這些小米樣本,取自布農、排灣、泰雅、魯凱、達悟共5族、12個部落。

長期關注農業傳統知識的台大農藝系教授郭華仁,幾年前讀到留美小米的相關文獻後,即與美方接洽,希望能讓原住民小米重回部落。

等待美方答覆期間,Rungudru帶著從美方資料庫下載的小米檔案,走進這12個部落,找尋可接手種植的人選。無奈年輕一代幾乎已無種植小米的經驗,因而鎖定部落長輩。

小米是原住民的傳統作物,但從未被系統地整理、紀錄過。根據中央研究院院士、民族學研究所所長黃樹民的爬梳,種植小米的傳統,距今約四、五千年前就已在原住民文化中滋長。

Rungudru問部落耆老曾經聽過或種過哪些小米,試圖透過他們的回憶,去拼湊、核對那些被帶到美國的小米品種,是否真的已從部落消失。

在南投縣信義鄉布農族東埔部落,一位七十多歲的老人家,為了種植後來不再能見到的小米,苦尋二十幾年,經Rungudru告知,原來該品種被帶去了美國。

美方接獲郭華仁詢問後不久,即答應寄回96種台灣原住民小米。2011年1月,去國三十多年之後,這批小米種原終於回到了台灣,由Rungudru送回部落。布農族的A-Ping看著手中拿到的13種小米,也很好奇它們種出來會有何不同。

隨便種,最自然

A-Ping的農田位在利稻部落入口處旁的斜坡上,小米與台灣藜間種,從不施肥、打藥。今年是A-Ping第三年種美國送回的小米,她在自己的田種12種,她的媳婦Saminagz則在另一塊田種8種。

在利稻,小米1、2月撒種,7月收割,完全是人工施作。13種歸鄉小米之中,有一種因為倒伏嚴重、產量太低,種了反而浪費人力,因而被A-Ping棄種。

A-Ping表示,從美國送回利稻的小米,都是以前種過的,有些她以前看過,卻叫不出名字。

被問到種小米的訣竅,在田裡拔草的Saminagz笑答:「隨便種。」

Saminagz解釋說,小米不像水稻須得細心照顧;種小米,只需把前一年收成的米粒撒進土裡,之後比較費力的部分,就是剔苗,亦即小米抽苗後,把擠在一起的小苗拔掉,好讓每株小米都有充裕的生長空間。

Saminagz決定,她的小米田今年7月收成後,明年將轉種其他作物。「剔苗很麻煩,還要拔草,」她用聽來像抱怨,實則是幽默的原住民口吻說。

這種輪種方式,合乎原住民傳統農法,亦即第一年種小米,第二年改種旱稻,第三年種玉米,第四年種完蕃薯之後就休耕10年。小米不適合連作,搭配輪作與休耕,才能培養小米耕地的地力。

「小米營養又好吃,但搗米很麻煩;小時候部落都有種,後來就不想種了。」Saminagz點出小米無法被大量消費、大量種植的原因:水稻早已取代小米成為原住民主食,連西點麵包都比小米受歡迎。

不過,作為代表原住民風味的食材,小米仍有基本的消費需求,尤其是小米酒與小米年糕。就以Samizagz今年種的Ishilumav小米為例,釀酒、做年糕都很合適,而Hanovaluvale小米則因易被擣碎,口感較細緻,適合煮成粥飯當主食。

Samizagz描述小米的多樣性:「小米很多種,有紅的、白的、黃的……,(小米穗)有像波浪頭的,也有像爆炸頭的。」

相較於農政單位改良、登錄品種權的小米,原住民自家種植的小米只能算是地方品系。農委會台東區農改場調查指出,全台有過種植紀錄的小米地方品系至少有160種,堪稱是原住民各族群共有的作物。

不過,Rungudru說,原住民傳統食物裡,目前只剩類似漢人粽子的魯凱族A-Bai(阿拜)和排灣族Cinavu(吉納福)仍以小米為主要食材。小米農業的沒落,與原住民不再以小米為主食脫不了關係。

小米文化,東亞僅存

日據時代引進水稻,是台灣小米種植規模巨幅滑落的轉折點。根據農糧署統計,1960年代全國還有五千多公頃種植面積,1990年代剩兩百多公頃。最新的統計是,2011年種有188公頃,台東、屏東是主要產地。

換言之,雖然種得很少,但小米其實不曾在台灣消失。中研院院士黃樹民表示,當東亞地區受到外來農作物的衝擊,只有台灣的原住民還保有完整、豐富的小米文化傳統,祭儀幾乎都會用到小米,讓小米除了作為食物之外,還被賦予象徵性、儀式性的意義。Rungudru認為,正是這層連結,讓部落的小米種植得以延續。

相較之下,稻米即使已成原住民的主食,但還未成原住民的文化,也沒有與水稻有關的重要祭儀。

Rungudru強調,把存在美國的台灣原住民小米送回部落,主要用意不是要讓族人靠種小米發財,而是希望藉由「小米回家」的行動,讓族人重新思考小米與原住民文化之間的關係。

黃樹民則指出,部落推動種植小米和重建與小米有關的傳統儀式,就是原住民復振傳統、重建自我認同的契機。

確實,近幾年在部落、地方政府以及農政單位的推動下,花東地區已逐步吹起小米風潮。原住民事務委員會主委孫大川3月還特別邀請農委會主委陳保基一起走訪花東縱谷,看看能否結合小米農業與原民文化,賦予傳統作物創意加值。

還有,近年台東農改場力推育成最成功的台東8號小米,在標高200公尺左右地區種植,廣受原住民部落歡迎。

台東農改場副研究員陳振義表示,相較於部落以撒種、不施肥方式種植地方品系,若改以條播台東8號小米並配合施肥,每公頃產量可從1,200公斤,大幅增至2,500公斤。

復歸傳統的挑戰

不過,即便現代農法可拉高小米產量,許多部落寧可維持「隨便種」。利稻即是一例。

利稻社區發展協會今年首度推動小米復耕計畫,向村民徵求8塊地,種植十多種小米,其中9種即是從美國帶回的品種。

利稻社區發展協會執行長Tahai說,二十多年前部落開始種植高冷蔬菜後,噴藥、施肥樣樣來,土壤、地力已遭破壞,而小米復耕,就是要用傳統農業,復原部落的自然生態。

Tahai說,今年種完小米之後,同一塊地明年將改種紅豆,希望未來能夠回復到農地種一年、休一年的傳統耕法。

然而,這幾年,群山環繞的社區內,陸續搭起了栽種聖女蕃茄的網室,高經濟作物與科技農業的誘因,仍在考驗著部落。可見,從小米復耕起步,利稻的挑戰才剛開始。而這挑戰,同樣也加諸在原住民復歸傳統農業價值的努力上。

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近期文章

EN

Millet Makes a Return to Taiwan

Sam Ju /photos courtesy of Jimmy Lin /tr. by Scott Williams

In recent years, many Taiwanese Aboriginal villages have begun promoting the cultivation of millet, long a staple in the traditional Aboriginal diet, in an effort to establish a new balance between economic efficiency and cultural revitalization. A real “millet revival” is underway in tribal communities.


A-Ping is a 73-year-old Bu­nun grandmother who lives in the mountains of Tai­tung County. Her family jokes that she’s “the boss of millet.”

A-Ping is a resident of Li­dao Village in Tai­tung’s Hai­duan Township, a Bu­nun community located 1,068 meters above sea level—higher than any other community in the township—along the Southern Cross-Island Highway.

Surrounded by mountains, the village was an important supply station for hikers until flooding associated with 2009’s Typhoon Mo­ra­kot made the remote village even more difficult to reach. Nowadays, fewer travelers pass through and the village’s hospitality industry has shrunk, forcing residents to once again make their living from agriculture.

When a Ru­kai man named Run­gu­dru Pa­ce­kele brought A-Ping a few bags of seed from Tai­pei three years ago, he told her it was millet, a grain once widely grown in Li­dao but now rarely seen.

An American interlude

Run­gu­dru is a PhD student in agronomy at National Taiwan University. A mature student who worked for many years before returning to graduate school, he hopes eventually to use his degree to help Taiwan’s Aboriginal farmers. His PhD supervisor happens to be Warren H.J. Kuo, a seed expert who has helped bring nearly 100 varieties of millet back from abroad.

The story goes back to the 1970s, when a young American scholar named Wayne Fogg came to Taiwan to study Aboriginal lifestyles. Fogg went on to publish an article noting that prior to Japan’s introduction of paddy rice into Taiwan during its colonial rule, millet comprised 50% of the staple crops of Taiwan’s Aborigines. In fact, it was far more important to their diet than even taro, sweet potatoes, upland rice, or corn.

In the course of his studies, Fogg visited Ping­tung, Nan­tou, Taitung and Orchid Island, bringing samples of 96 varieties of millet with him back to the United States. The samples, which came from 12 villages belonging to the Bu­nun, Pai­wan, Ata­yal, Ru­kai, and Tao peoples, were then cultivated and preserved at a research station.

Professor Kuo, long a student of traditional agricultural knowledge and practices, learned about the Taiwanese millet preserved in the US several years ago, and began talking to the Americans in the hope of bringing those varieties back to Taiwan’s Aboriginal villages.

While waiting for the US side to agree, Run­gu­dru travelled to those original 12 villages carrying information on millet cultivation and looking for candidates to grow it. Disappointed to find that young people had no experience growing millet, he turned to the older generation.

In spite of its place in the traditional Aboriginal diet, millet has never been systematically studied in Taiwan. ­Huang Shu-min, an academician with the Academia Sinica and director of its Institute of Ethnology, notes that the tradition of growing millet goes back four or five thousand years among Taiwan’s Aborigines.

The Americans soon sent Kuo 96 varieties of the Aboriginal millet. Once it arrived in Taiwan in January 2011, Run­gu­dru immediately began distributing it to the villages. A-Ping was among those receiving seed, and was very curious to see what her 13 varieties would grow into.

Simple and natural

A-Ping’s field is located on a sloped piece of land near the entrance to Li­dao. Planted in millet and Formosan lambs­quarters (Che­no­po­dium for­mo­sa­num), it has never been treated with chemical fertilizers or pesticides. This year is the third in which A-Ping has planted her repatriated millet, now down to 12 varieties, in her field. Her daughter-in-law Sa­mi­nagz has eight varieties growing on another plot.

Li­dao’s farmers plant their millet in January and February, then harvest it in July. Both endeavors are entirely human-­powered, and A-Ping has abandoned one of her original 13 varieties because it yielded too little for the labor required.

Asked about the secret to growing millet, Sa­mi­nagz smiles in the midst of weeding her field and replies, “Just do whatever.”

She says you just plant some of the grain from the previous year’s harvest; thinning out young plants that are growing too close together is the more labor-intensive task.

Sa­mi­nagz has already decided to move on to another crop after harvesting this year’s millet in July.

In fact, crop rotation is standard practice in traditional Aboriginal agriculture. A typical rotation might involve growing millet one year, upland rice the next, corn in the third year, and sweet potatoes in the fourth, then letting the field lie fallow for 10 years. Millet isn’t well suited to repeated cultivation on the same plot, and crop rotations and years of lying fallow are essential to keeping the land fecund.

Sa­mi­nagz notes that paddy rice has long since replaced millet as the staple of the Aboriginal diet, and even Western baked goods are more popular, so there isn’t enough of a market to support growing the grain in quantity.

That said, there is still a base level of demand for it in Aboriginal cuisine, especially for things like millet wine and millet nian­gao (“New Year’s cake”—a steamed cake usually made from glutinous rice flour). The Ishi­lu­mav millet ­Sa­mi­nagz is growing this year, for example, is well suited to both wine and nian­gao. Ha­no­va­lu­vale millet, on the other hand, is easily cracked, making it good for dishes like porridge.

Sa­mi­nagz notes that the varieties differ in their appearance, too. “There are red, white, and yellow ones, and the ears can resemble breaking waves, or even explosions.”

Unlike the varieties improved and patented by agricultural agencies, the millets grown by Aboriginal households are strictly local products. A study by the Council of Agriculture’s Tai­tung District Agricultural Research and Extension Station (TDARES) found that at least 160 locally grown millet varieties had been recorded throughout Taiwan, indicating that they were popular among a broad swath of Aboriginal communities.

But Run­gu­dru notes that the only items in the traditional Aboriginal diet that still use millet as a primary ingredient are the a-bai of the Ru­kai and the ci­navu of the Pai­wan, both of which resemble the ­zongzi (glutinous rice dumplings) of Chinese cuisine. The simple fact is that decline of millet cultivation is a direct result of the shift away from the use of millet as a staple.

Millet culture

Japan’s introduction of paddy rice into Taiwan during its period of rule initiated a decline in millet cultivation. Nonetheless, data from the Agriculture and Food Agency shows that Taiwan still had more than 5,000 hectares of land in millet in the 1960s. But by the 1990s this figure had plummeted to just over 200 hectares. As of 2011, it was just 188 hectares, largely in Tai­tung and Ping­tung counties.

Millet’s decline hasn’t been limited to just Taiwan. ­Huang Shu-min says that the importation of foreign crops into East Asia impacted cultivation throughout the region. Yet despite its limited acreage, the tradition of millet cultivation in Taiwan has never wholly ceased, and in fact only Taiwan fully retains a rich cultural heritage around millet. Almost all Aboriginal religious ceremonies involve making offerings of millet, and the grain has symbolic and ceremonial significance. Run­gu­dru believes that this is what has kept millet cultivation alive in the villages.

For all that paddy rice has become a dietary staple, it isn’t used in any important ceremonies and thus hasn’t yet become an integral part of Aboriginal culture.

Run­gu­dru stresses that the purpose of having the preserved varieties of millet sent back from the US wasn’t to make tribes­people wealthy, but in hopes that a “millet comes home” movement would encourage them to reflect anew on the relationship between millet and Aboriginal culture.

Huang Shu-min says that the promotion of millet cultivation in the villages and the performance of ceremonies involving millet offer an opportunity to revitalize Aboriginal traditions.

In fact, promotional efforts by villages, local governments and agricultural agencies have led to a gradual resurgence in millet cultivation in the Hua­lien–Tai­tung area in recent years. Tai­tung No. 8, a variety actively promoted by the ­TDARES, has been well received by the villages, which are growing it at elevations of around 200 meters.

Chen ­Zhenyi, an associate researcher at the Tai­tung station, says that proper sowing and fertilizing can increase Tai­tung No. 8 millet yields to 2,500 kilograms per hectare, versus the 1,200 obtained from naturally grown local varieties.

Bringing back traditions

While modern methods can bring much improved yields, many villages prefer to stick to their more casual, natural approach. Li­dao is a case in point here, too.

In 2013, the Li­dao Community Development Association implemented a program aimed at promoting millet cultivation. The program is growing a dozen-odd varieties of the grain, nine of which were varieties brought back from the US, on eight parcels of land.

Ta­hai, the organization’s executive director, says that when village farmers began cultivating alpine vegetables 20-some years ago, they ruined the soil with their applications of chemical pesticides and fertilizers. Ta­hai’s group is bringing back millet in an effort to encourage traditional farming practices and restore the local ecology.

He says that the plan is to grow millet this year, and plant adzuki beans on the plots next year. Their eventual goal, however, is to bring back the traditional practice of alternating between farming a field one year and letting it lie fallow the next.

But cultivation of cherry tomatoes in net houses has taken off in the mountain community over the last couple of years, where the attractions of high-value crops and high-tech agriculture are testing the village in new ways. Clearly, the move to revive millet is just the first of Li­dao’s challenges. Many others remain in the effort to bring back Aboriginal agricultural practices and values.

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