MEISHAN/TAOYUAN, Taiwan: Chien Shun-yih appears out over his withering tea fields in Taiwan’s picturesque southern Meishan township and lets out a sigh.
A once-in-a-century drought final yr adopted by torrential rain this yr have decimated his crop and left Taiwan’s tea farmers scrambling to adapt to the acute climate adjustments.
“Local weather is the factor we are able to least management in managing our tea plantation,” the 28-year-old Chien instructed Reuters. “We actually do depend on the sky to eat.”
(Open https://reut.rs/3aB7uEt in an exterior browser to see an image package deal on Taiwan’s tea business.)
Taiwan’s tea output doesn’t come near matching China or India’s, however what it lacks in amount it makes up for in high quality, particularly the excessive mountain premium Oolong selection that Meishan specialises in.
Tea has been grown within the mountains round Meishan because the island was a part of China’s Qing dynasty within the nineteenth century. The business matured and expanded beneath Japanese imperial rule from 1895-1945.
Chien, who returned to run the household plantation after his father died of most cancers 4 years in the past, is now engaged on coping methods for excessive climate, together with hacking deep into the undergrowth to search for swimming pools to pipe water to the fields.
Lin Shiou-ruei, a authorities researcher serving to Meishan’s farmers, stated one other downside the acute climate brings is pests that assault the younger tea buds.
“Pests love the dry and the warmth,” she stated at her experimental fields in Taoyuan in northern Taiwan. “Beforehand it wouldn’t be scorching till round Might to July, however now in April it’s already actually scorching.”
Lin is working to coach farmers concerning the pests that proliferate with local weather change, and the way to determine and handle them.
Her boss, senior agronomist Tsai Hsien-tsung, stated they started monitoring climate adjustments within the tea nation 4 years in the past and have already seen the crop’s flavour alter with the seasons.
“Temperatures are going up, rainfall goes down. There may be much less moisture within the air,” he stated. “Tea could be very delicate.”
Nevertheless, whether or not or not what is going on in Taiwan’s tea nation is straight associated to local weather change stays an space for debate.
Chen Yung-ming, head of the Local weather Change Division at Taiwan’s Nationwide Science and Expertise Centre for Catastrophe Discount, stated it was not potential guilty the drought on local weather change.
“We are able to solely say that the prospect of steady drought will enhance,” he stated.
Chien estimates he’ll solely harvest 600 kg (1,300 lb) of tea this yr, half of final yr’s crop, as a result of drought and rain, however says he’s decided to not be crushed.
“These bushes are what fed me and introduced me up. In return I need to attempt my finest to take excellent care of them too.”
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