Taiwanese pineapple farmer finds success in Thailand

09/23/2022 10:43 PM
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Taiwanese farmer Tai Jui-chen at his Chiang Rai pineapple farm. CNA photo Sept. 23, 2022
Taiwanese farmer Tai Jui-chen at his Chiang Rai pineapple farm. CNA photo Sept. 23, 2022

Bangkok, Sept. 23 (CNA) Taking CNA through his pineapple field in Chiang Rai, northern Thailand, 47 year-old Taiwanese farmer Tai Jui-chen (戴睿辰) carefully lifts a corner of large black tarp to reveal row upon row of pineapples based on a strain he brought from Taiwan.

Nicknamed the "Pineapple Bro of Chiang Rai" by his fellow Taiwanese entrepreneurs, Tai is the number one Taiwanese farmer in Thailand when it comes to growing pineapples.

Tai originally comes from a Tainan family that has farmed pineapples in the city's Guanmiao District for about 30 years.

In 2016, he decided to take the farming skills he learned from his family and his many years of experience in the business to Thailand, where set about becoming a successful farmer in his own right.

Taiwanese farmer Tai Jui-chen
Taiwanese farmer Tai Jui-chen's pineapple covered by protective tarps. CNA photo Sept. 23, 2022

When Tai arrived in Thailand, he first planted 10 hectares of pineapples using seedlings mainly from popular Taiwanese strains.

"I wanted to take Taiwan's exquisite pineapples and make them shine in Thailand," Tai told CNA.

According to the pineapple farmer, he decided to plant Taiwan pineapple seedlings after noticing Thailand pineapple strains contain thicker fibers that produce the enzyme complex bromelain which stimulates a more aggressive chemical reaction to the human tongue than the thinner fibers found in Taiwan strains.

Tai also noticed the difference in farming technique between what he learned in Taiwan and Thailand also led to significant difference in pineapple quality.

In Thailand, Tai said farmers tend to use chemical fertilizers to speed up the growth of the fruit. That ensures Thailand pineapples are often harvested earlier, but failure to use tarps to provide the fruit with protective shade often lead to poor quality pineapples.

"The agriculture industry here in Thailand often suffers from the inability to export," Tai said, adding "that is because they use too much chemical fertilizer when growing their products."

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In contrast, Tai uses amine based and natural fertilizers from Taiwan to achieve a level of farming which he claims to be almost organic. In addition, he does not use pesticide and utilizes fabric tarps to protect his more delicate strain of pineapples and prevent weed growth.

In the fall and winter, Tai even place paper bags on the large leaves of certain strains to ensure the fruits' sweet flavor is optimized.

After a period of trial and error learning about Thailand's unique soil and weather patterns, Tai's pineapple plantation grew from 10 hectares to what is now a 150 hectare pineapple farm, the largest run by a Taiwanese farmer in Thailand.

Through dedication and insistence on quality control by rigorously applying Taiwanese agricultural methods, Tai's pineapples have earned him high recognition and considerable profit.

With marijuana legal in Thailand, Tai said he has recently forayed into the the field and hopes

Taiwanese farmer Tai Jui-chen
Taiwanese farmer Tai Jui-chen's pineapple with paper bag caps. CNA photo Sept. 23, 2022

to give back to the community in Thailand by supplying cannabis as a medicinal product and create more jobs by employing more locals.

"People used to say that northern Thailand was a drug den," he said, "but, I'd like to get rid of that stereotype and hopefully develop cannabis as a key component of the health industry."

(By Lu Hsin-hui and James Lo)


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