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Students volunteer to help indigenous farmers sell coffee

2011/12/09 22:23:25

Taipei, Dec. 9 (CNA) A group of Taiwanese college students, led by a performing arts professor, visited an aboriginal community Friday in Alishan in Chiayi County in an effort to help local coffee farmers develop marketing strategies.

Jerry Hsia, a professor at National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU), took 37 students from the Creativity and Entrepreneurship Program of National Taiwan University, where Hsia teaches part-time, to Tefuye Community.

During a three-day project in the village, they plan to design creative marketing for two coffee brands established by farmers there, as well as setting up websites for online sales, said the Southern Taiwan Joint Service Center under the Executive Yuan.

As well as experiencing life in a mountain village, the project organizers said, the students will be divided into pairs to interview coffee farmers and visit their farms, after which they will seek to come up with creative marketingideas.

The village has about 20 hectares of coffee, but the farmers have not been able to effectively promote their brands, according to the center.

Hsia, who specializes in cultural administration, said he first met the Tsou tribespeople who call the area home during a previousworkshop on creative marketing and was impressed by the residents' determination to rebuild their community, which suffered extensive damage from Typhoon Morakot in2009.

That experience inspired him to organize the project for the villagers, most of who make a living by growing bamboo shoots, tea, coffee and aiyu.

The products made in aboriginal communities are actually quite competitive but unfortunately, the villagers have problems sellingthem because they lack sound branding, Hsia said.

Finding stories to back their products and creating contexts forthem would be more effective than simply having sales, becausecustomers for such goods tend to want more than just products, he added.

(By Huang Kuo-fang and Kendra Lin)