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Southern Taiwan producing tropical pears

2012/07/04 11:05:51

Taipei, July 4 (CNA) Pingtung County's first agricultural farm for pears has come into fruition after 10 years of searching for a way to ensure the survival of pears in southern Taiwan's hot weather.

The task of cultivating pears in hot weather -- known as tropical pears -- was not easy as pears are normally cultivated in places with cold temperatures.

The achievement was attributed to farmer Lin Chun-yu of Wandan Township in Pingtung County. He has been trying to find methods of growing pears in Pingtung for the past 10 years.

It took him six years before he succeeded in growing a batch of pears there. Now he has completely embraced climate factors and the environment that affects pears' growth. The seeds he uses are those of sand pears as they are better suited to withstand the hot weather.

There is not much difference between tropical pears compared to those cultivated in cold temperatures. The only difference is that the pears made in the south can be harvested two weeks earlier than those grown in the north of Taiwan, said Lin.

He added that the pears fetch a good price on the market due to the fact that they can be collected two weeks before other agricultural farms can push their pears out.

Lin said the key to overcoming the hot southern climate is the way the grass is nurtured. Herbicides cannot be used and the grass has to be mowed with a lawnmower.

However, the grass cannot be mowed too close to the ground as a gap needs to be left for the soil to retain its moisture and also, to ensure that the temperature changes will not vary too much.

In addition to all of this, correct organic fertilizers must be used for the pears to grow smoothly.

The pears grown in northern Taiwan are frequently subject to climate changes such as typhoons or torrential rain, thus causing the roads to be cut off and this in turn interrupts farmers' delivery of their pears, leading to an overpopulation of pears in the mountains.

Therefore, Lin said he hopes that tropical pears can help to reduce these problems.

Lin does not mind sharing his methods with other farmers in the south and said he has taught many of his friends already and they have been successful in their ventures too.

From a background of no experience in this field, he inherited his parent's agricultural land and under the encouragement of friends from Taichung where pears are grown in cold temperatures, he developed the idea to make tropical pears.

He wanted to break tradition and prove that tropical pears could be produced. He even took classes at Kaohsiung District Agricultural Research and Extension Station to learn the skills of plant grafting.

It is now the season of pears and the harvests from 140 pear treesplanted by Lin have all been sold. The price of each kilogram is around NT$150 (US$5).

(By Kuo Chu-chen and I-Ling Chen)