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[May free report] Savior Crop- The Foxtail Millet in Taiwan

by Jing Yuan Huang | 07-06-2023 00:35 recommendations 0

How much can a crop affect the environment when the crop is facing extinction? The foxtail millet in Taiwan may answer this question. Since the Paleolithic age, foxtail millet acted as an important staple food in south-eastern China society, which included Taiwan. However, the foxtail millet in Taiwan soon developed its branch independently due to the geographical isolation of Taiwan island. Furthermore, the foxtail millet soon became the main staple food of indigenous people and dominated the crop system on the island meanwhile the foxtail millet in China had been replaced by rice. Therefore, Taiwan preserves the most integrated foxtail millet culture and system. However, nothing can remain forever through dramatic historical changes. 

Taiwan's indigenous people became minority groups when the newcomers like Dutch, Chinese, and Japanese came and dominated Taiwan. During this process, the foxtail millet lost its importance in the Taiwanese majority society. Fortunately, most of the time, the indigenous remained separate from the colonizer culture, which enable them to maintain the foxtail millet cultivation system. But as transportation improved in the late 20th century, the foxtail millet in Taiwan faced an unprecedented threat. Transportation encourages the commercial interaction between indigenous people and Han people to increase rapidly. Many indigenous withdrew the millet cultivation and turned to grow cash crops. Consequently, nearly 90% of tribes no longer grow the foxtail millet. The total area of the millet plantation decreased from nearly 10,000 hectares to less than 300 hectares. Furthermore, most millet farmers are older indigenous people who are slower in efficiency and face the crisis that the millet cannot be inherent to the next generation. Overall, the situation goes from bad to worse in these decades, which bothers many environmentalists because of the foxtail millets’ tremendous benefits to the environment. 

The foxtail millet acts as an important role in Taiwan's mountain environment. It is not only the staple food for many wildlife but also a soil firmer. In other words, the millet can grab the soil well because of its deep roots At the same time, it is mostly planted on terraces. Combining these two characteristics, planting the millet can prevent landslides that damage wildlife, human property, and natural landscape.  However, landslides happened more frequently in the near decade when the millet is replaced by cash crops on high land. Not only protect the soil, but the foxtail millet can also preserve water in the soil because it doesn’t require much water to grow. In conclusion, the foxtail millet contributes much to soil and water conservation, which has been a popular issue people seek to solve. 

Reserving the foxtail millet hasn’t been a topic that people talk about much yet. But I believe that after understanding its importance in the environment and its current situation, people will realize the urgency of conserving this species. We can support the millets farmers by buying foods made of foxtail millet such as millet porridge, millet dumplings, and millet donuts (which I recommend a lot). 

If you are interested in the topic of the foxtail millet or want to cooperate, feel free to contact me. My partners and I are conducting a long-term research on foxtail millet.

My Gmail: brian.coskr@gmail.com

The Foxtail Millet

Jing YuanHuang

  • Taiwan Youth Jing Yuan Huang
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Yewon Mentor

  • Yewon Mentor says :
    Hello Jing Yuan Huang! Again, this is your mentor Yewon.

    This time, you have written a report about the foxtail millet! I didn't know well about this topic as well, so I think this is quite an interesting topic!
    By reading your report, I understood the importance of preserving the foxtail Millet in Taiwan. I believe that many readers would understand as well. I hope many people in Taiwan should read this report and have more interest in this topic!

    Thank you for your hard work!
    Posted 03-07-2023 17:03

James Mentor

  • James Mentor says :
    Hello again Jing Yuan Huang! This is your mentor James.

    What an interesting topic regarding the foxtail millet in Taiwan! Not only does it provides food supply for the indigenous people, but also it acts as a barrier that prevents landslides and other natural disasters! Extinction of such beneficial plant species would only result in loss of biodiversity and higher damages from abnormal climates like typhoons. I hope recovery projects of the millet are carried out thoroughly in Taiwan.

    Thank you for your fantastic work! Let's keep it up with your next report as well.
    Posted 28-06-2023 15:00

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