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Film to show aboriginal struggle to protect farmland

2015/09/13 21:28:42

Terraced land in eastern coast of Taiwan (Photo courtesy of Sumi Dongi)

Taipei Sept. 13 (CNA) For the past four years, Sumi Dongi and other indigenous farmers have dedicated themselves to bring new life to terraced land in their village that has been increasingly treated as a commodity to sell to investors for commercial use.

Their struggle will soon be brought to the big screen on Sept. 25, and Sumi Dongi said she hopes the production will raise public awareness of the challenges Taiwan's east coast is facing in protecting the environment.

Sumi Dongi, a member of the Amis tribe who lives in Fengbin Township in Hualien County, said her hometown was once filled with rice fields.

That is changing, however, as residents discouraged by the poor economic prospects of agriculture look to cash in on the growing tourism sector by selling their land to hotel or inn developers.

"Outside investors build bed and breakfasts or build hotels, but the job opportunities they give back to the village are few and far between," she said, expressing concern that the culture and traditions of her tribe will disappear before long.

Only 32 households still farm six hectares of terraced land in the community, and the economic benefits are limited, she said.

An indigenous farmer surnamed Chen said it is hard to get young adults to return to their hometowns because of the limited economic opportunities.

The movie titled "Wawa No Cidal" (太陽的孩子) in the community's aboriginal language means "child of the sun." It is co-directed by Yu-Chieh Cheng (鄭有傑) and Sumi Dongi's son Lekal Sumi.

(By Li Hsien-feng and Maria Tsai)