The Taitung Rice Harvest Festival, one of the 12 Hakka Festivals, kicked off on Nov. 7 in Chishang Township. Hakka Affairs Council (HAC) Deputy Minister Fan Tso-ming (范佐銘) attended this event to experience the unique agrarian culture in eastern Taiwan. Fan said that, entering its 11th year, the festival has become a nationally known event, especially because of high-quality Chishang-grown rice. He hopes that, through the festivity, top-notch agricultural products made in Taitung’s Hakka settlements will be popular throughout the world. According to HAC, the Taitung Rice Harvest Festival, which has been selected as one of the 12 Hakka Festivals, is the annual celebration of the Hakka ethnic group in eastern Taiwan when farmers worship the gods, thanking them for a good harvest and praying for fair weather that will bring another bountiful harvest in the next year. Due to the special geographical environment and good water quality in Taitung, the rice cultivated in this area is considered the crown of the whole Taiwan and is internationally renowned. A majority of the Hakka people who migrated to eastern Taiwan are farmers, so the practice of thanking the gods for a good harvest during harvest time is an important tradition and folk belief for locals. It contains rich cultural heritage and epitomizes the Hakka people’s strong affection for the land. (Photo: 臺東好米收冬祭Facebook) The focus of the festival is to promote the concept of loving one’s hometown and eating good rice. Various activities were launched to promote Taitung’s industries in different ways than holding big ceremonies like those seen in Hakka communities in western Taiwan. At this year’s event, the Hakka Public Communications Foundation (HPCF) offered live broadcast services with an outside broadcasting van dubbed “Hakka-speaking.” HPCF General Manager Chih-chun (徐智俊) noted that, through online streaming and digital broadcasting technology, HPCF could bring the charm of the festival to its audience all across the world.