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Pingtong has provided me an unforgettable experience

Pingtong has provided me an unforgettable experience. It’s not just about scenery or nature, but more about people. Locals always treat us with great hospitality, whether we can communicate in English or not. I am so impressed by this simple life. This no-frills environment really prompts us to get back to basics and reflect on the essence of life. 

On the way back to train station, we drive by a small rice paddy and an orchard. My friends say these farms are different from those in the past. Out of curiosity, we decide to stop by and look around. 

The kind farmer comes over and explains the differences. In the past, every farmer only aimed for higher productivity. Higher yields, more harvests, and higher prices were all they care about. Tons and tons of chemical fertilizers and pesticides were used. Productivity targets were fulfilled at the expense of environmental pollution and public health. The farmer remembers once after overnight downpour, villagers discovered lots of dead fish in the nearby stream. It turned out that rainwater overflows brought pesticides in the paddy into creek. It is a striking scene to him.  

If fish is dead due to pesticides, what would happen when they are accumulated in human beings? He starts to change afterwards. 

With all the past pollution and degradation, he says, it is currently impossible to start organic farming overnight. Even if he goes for organic alone, without raising community awareness, it would not work. Wind will bring back pesticides from nearby paddies. 

He focuses on no pesticides left on rice instead. When no longer applying pesticides a certain time before harvest, they will not remain on rice we consume. If people are not fighting for faster harvests, there is no need for extra chemical poisons, which also mitigates cost burden and increases profit margins for farmers. He also pays more attention to organic fertilizers and other alternatives, in order to use chemicals less. Sending ducks that eat weeds to the paddy would be a good next step, he mentions. 

Does it influence productivity? Yes, he admits, but at least it won’t hurt people’s health. He says that with a confident smile. 

Besides changes, they also work on innovations. In their orchard, they have been trying to plant a new breed of mangos with a mix from apples. The farmer claims their new mangos will be sweeter and bigger. Unfortunately we are not in the season yet. Looking at the green trees, I already start to imagine its fragrance, which must be good. 

It’s such a pleasure to witness people spending so much time and efforts on their crops, especially for the cause of health. With sunshine and breeze in Pingtong during our visit, with their special attention and care, I have every reason to believe that they will have a great harvest season and a satisfying smile. Wish them luck.

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