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Taiwanese cooperative farm brings papayas to the people

12-05-2011 13:32 BJT

TAIPEI, Dec. 5 (Xinhua) -- During Yang Chien-de's most recent trip to Beijing, the intrepid papaya farmer took a trip to the Parkson shopping mall to conduct a personal inspection of his cooperative's products.

"I care more about where storage facilities are located, and whether and why some papayas go bad during their trip to Beijing, than the sales performance of our first-rate papayas," said Yang, who runs a fruit farming cooperative in south Taiwan's village of Gaoshu.

Yang set up the cooperative in 1997 to better accommodate his aging parents, as he had spent many years working in the construction industry in Taipei. He returned to the countryside of Taiwan and threw himself into his new work.

Taiwanese farmers often form similar cooperatives to help them reduce their procurement costs and find stable market channels to sell their products. Yang and the 15 farmers in his cooperative grow about 1,800 metric tons of papayas every year, selling most of their produce on the island.

"Most of these papayas are sold within Taiwan. Only 10 to 15 percent are for selling outside of Taiwan, about 45 percent of which are sold to the Chinese mainland," he said.

Yang's cooperative is one of many in Gaoshu, a major papaya production base in Taiwan. The village's papaya output accounts for 10 percent of the island's total, with cooperatives growing and selling the fruit all year long.

"Growing papaya is expensive. It costs 600,000 New Taiwan dollars (about 19,893 U.S. dollars) to 900,000 New Taiwan dollars to grow and harvest one hectare of papayas," Yang said.

"But villagers can enjoy a 20- to 30-percent increase in earnings if they join a cooperative," Yang said.

According to Yang, establishing a cooperative requires at least 10 farmers and 10 hectares of land, in accordance with local government regulations.

Yang's cooperative grows papayas by adopting standardized procedures for selecting land, fertilizing crops, controlling pests and mitigating the effects of natural disasters.

"Our products live up to international quality standards," Yang said.

His cooperative has adopted large-scale production methods and has allowed local farmers to learn about systematic management, according to Yang.

To keep supply and demand balanced, Yang said he keeps close track of the cooperative's annual output, checking to see how many papayas are delivered to homes and how many are sold to other merchants.

"We anticipate future demand through market research and adjust our output accordingly. That way, our papayas are always sold at a good price," Yang said.

Yang has plans to further tap the mainland market. He has traveled to the mainland several times since 2008 to promote his products in a number of cities, including Beijing, Tianjin, Qingdao, Shanghai and Xiamen.

Yang said the secret to successful papaya sales is in the harvesting, storage and transportation of the fruit. "Every link is too important to neglect," he said.

"That's why I went to supermarket to see how the papayas were stored and transported when I was in Beijing this April," he said.

"I hope that in the future, a stable channel for selling, storing and transporting papayas can be established across the Taiwan Strait so that high-quality Taiwanese papayas can be sold to more mainland consumers," Yang said. Enditem

Editor:Zhang Hao |Source: Xinhua

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