Go TO Content
Geographical features of Cigu District meant that residents largely focus on farming and fisheries. Most of the crops include sweet melons, onions, garlic, edible corn, and tomatoes for processing. The following introduces some of the crop varieties grown:
Sweet melons
1、Sweet melons
Also known as hamigua (hami melons) or wangzaigua (netted melons), the sweet melon is one of the most important commercial crops for well over a decade in Cigu District. Sweet melons grown in Cigu District can be largely divided into 3 major varieties of cantaloupes (netted skin), honeydew (smooth skin) and hami melons (slightly elongated). Cantaloupe cultivars include Qiuji (autumn maid), Cuimi (emerald honey), Qiumi (autumn honey), Qiuxiang (autumn fragrance), Xianghua (spring blossom), Tianhua (heavenly blossom), Nandou (southern capital), Hongbaoshi (ruby), and Lanbaoshi (sapphire). Honeydew cultivars include Mishijie (honey world), Mitianxia (honey empire), Zhuangyuan (principal graduate), and Chuliuxiang (fragrance everywhere). Hami melon cultivars include Xinshiji (new century). Large tracts of land have been devoted to growing many melon cultivars in tunnels (or hoop houses). The resulting melons are sweet, well-shaped, and have helped to establish a positive reputation of Cigu melons throughout Taiwan. The best time for growing melons in Cigu District would be from early September (after the typhoon season) to the end of January of the following year for a 5-month period. Boroughs known for commercial melon growing include Shifen Borough, Sangu Borough, Zhuguang Borough, Kanglang Borough, and Yihe Borough, as well as part of the public land along the Zengwen River valley. About 150 hectares of land in Cigu District are devoted to melon cultivation.
Garlic is a species of the onion genus (Allium) and can be largely divided into the hard-necked garlic or the soft-necked garlic varieties. Growers in Cigu District largely cultivate hard-necked garlic for its bulbs. Growing season for garlic starts every October. Garlic plants are propagated asexually with the bulbs first separated into individual cloves, soaked in water for 2 days, and then planted in the soil. The garlic plant has shallow roots and tends to be densely planted. Growers would grow them on elevated mounds to support irrigation and drainage while providing adequate amounts of fertilizers. Harvesting takes place every March when 1/3 to 2/3 of the entire length of the leaves from their tips have dried and turned yellow, indicating that the bulbs are fully mature. During the harvesting process, the stems and leaves would be removed. The bulbs are then dried under the sun or placed in a dryer. A total of 110 hectares is devoted to garlic cultivation in Cigu District. Most of the farms are concentrated in the public land along the Zengwen River valley, with Sangu Borough and Shifen Borough as the second largest production area.
Shallots, known colloquially as hongcongtou (red onion bulbs), are a member of the onion genus (Allium) and produce a bulbous stem of fleshy leaves packed tightly together. Growing season starts in October, and the plants are capable of reaching about 30 cm in height. Harvesting takes place in February to March of the following year. When mature, the outer layer of the bulb would form a thin, red-colored membrane. The yellowing of the leaves would indicate that the bulb is preparing to enter a state of hibernation and that the plant is ready for harvesting. The plants are manually pulled out of the soil and left in the field for a few days to dry under the sun. The leaves and roots are then excised to obtain the shallot bulbs which are then packaged for dealers to purchase. During harvesting, visitors can often see groups of old farmers sitting on benches with scissors in their hands cutting away the dried leaves and roots. During the early days, farmers were required to chop up the shallots and dry them before selling them to dealers. But cutting shallots would release eye-irritating fumes, giving rise to the shallots' nickname of hongmucong (red-eyed onion). Major growing areas for shallots include public lands along the Zengwen River valley, Sangu Borough, and Shifen Borough. A total of 350 hectares of farmland is devoted to shallots in Cigu District.
 4、Edible Corn
All edible corn grown in Cigu District is of the sweet corn varieties. Cigu corn is known for its sweet, tender kernels, delicious flavor, and nutritious contents. The corn can also be made into canned food as well as raw materials after freezing and processing. Corns have short growing seasons and can be used together with rotational farming, which makes them a crop with great development potential. Planting begins from early September to mid-October. Rotational farming and use of green manure could also improve corn growth and productivity. Edible corn of Cigu is mainly grown at Zhuzigang, which is home to most corn farms in the area. A total of 105 hectares of land is used for growing edible corn in the Cigu area.
Sesame is a crop with a long history in Cigu District. Zhugang Borough of Cigu District was once part of the Madouliaozai (the hamlet of sesame and beans). This name was derived from the fact that settlers of the Lin Clan made their first fortune by growing sesame and beans in this area.
Sesame is largely categorized into those planted in spring and those planted in autumn. Spring planting takes place during early to middle March, while autumn planting takes place from early to middle September. Spring growing period would last 95~120 days, while autumn growing period would only take 85~95 days before harvesting. Most sesame in Cigu District is of the spring variety. Sesame is grown everywhere in isolated plots throughout Cigu District, with major farms on the Zengwen River valley’s public land. About 120 hectares of land are used for growing sesame in the entire district.
6、Tomatoes for processing
Land in Cigu District is quite saline, making tomatoes grown here particularly sweet and delicious. One can often see large tracts of tomato farms in this area. Tomato growers in Cigu District have entered into a contract with Kegome Company. Kegome would supply growers with seeds who would then be responsible for growing and harvesting the tomatoes. Tomatoes are largely grown in the autumn and winter seasons. The best harvesting period would be from the end of December to early March of the following year. Harvested tomatoes would be shipped to the Kagome industries for processing. Tomato cultivation in Cigu District is largely on the public land in the river valley as well as Zhugang Borough. About 60 hectares of farmlands are devoted to tomato growing in this area.
 7、Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes are also known as hongshu (red potatoes), hongfanshu (Dutch potatoes), and digua (ground gourds). The plant was originally cultivated in tropical America and was introduced into Fujian Province of China during the early 17th century. Sweet potatoes became the staple food of the Taiwanese people during the Japanese Governor Generalship. After World War II ended, sweet potatoes became humble pig feed. In addition to the public land along the river valleys, there are also sweet potato farms in Hougang Borough, Chengnei Borough, Zhugang Borough, and Sangu Borough. There is a total of 45 hectares devoted to sweet potato cultivation in Cigu District.
Carrots are also known as hongluobo (red carrots) or hongcaitou (red turnips). Carrots prefer cooler climes and hence would be cultivated during winter and harvested every February or March. Most carrot farms in Cigu District are located in Zhugang Borough, with Hougang Borough as the second largest cultivation area. About 25 hectares of farmland are used for growing carrots in the entire district.
 9、Mung Beans
Mung beans do poorly in cold climates and have a short growing period of about 65 to 95 days from sowing to harvesting. Mung beans are usually grown during spring or summer after a previous crop has been harvested. Major mung bean growing areas would be the public lands along the Zengwen River valley, Hougang Borough, Chengnei Borough, Sangu Borough, and Shifen Borough. About 25 hectares of farmland are used to grow mung beans in Cigu District.
Cigu District has currently over 4000 hectares of land (with over 6000 fish rearing pools) devoted to aquaculture and fisheries, the largest of any district in Taiwan.
In addition to the Zengwen River, Cigu District also has an extensive system of water channels of various sizes such as the Sangu River (Dawenliao drainage canal), Shulin River (Cigu drainage canal), Cigu River, Liucheng drainage canal, Daliao drainage canal, and Dachaogou tidal channel that spans the area from the Sikong water gate to the Shiwukong water gate. These infrastructures provide a comprehensive water supply and drainage system that provides major support for fisheries and aquaculture in this district.
Aquaculture is the most important industry in Cigu District. Fisheries include
land-based aquaculture and coastal aquaculture. Cigu District has a long history of aquaculture. Many locations are, in fact, named after aquacultural ponds, such as Fanzaiwen (barbarian's pond) located at the east of Dacheng Borough, which earned its name from the fish rearing ponds built by the Pingpu people who cleared the land in the area. Jindefeng hamlet in the southwest of Shifen Borough was named after Jindefeng Fish Farms built by Wang Cheng-shou from Shuzijiao during the Japanese Governor Generalship. However, in the 12th Year of Showa (CE 1937), the Japanese forcibly confiscated over 500 hectares of soft-shell turtle farms near Dingshan and converted them into salt pans. Several thousand hectares of coastal flats were also converted to fish farms alongside the Zengwen River, which gradually shifted the center of aquaculture of Cigu District towards the northern bank at the mouth of the Zengwen River. The following introduces the main fish species reared in the area:
Milkfish is the most-farmed fish in Taiwan and has the longest history of over 300 years. In Tainan, the milkfish is also known as mashimu, guoxingyu, and anpingyu.
Wild schools of milkfish are distributed in the Pacific, the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea, Africa, and other tropical and sub-tropical waters. This tropical fish species is capable of surviving in both freshwater and highly saline sea water, with its ranges only limited by temperature.
Milkfish can survive in water temperatures of 16oC to 39oC, but when temperature drop below 15oC, the fish would start to lose vitality. At 12oC, the fish would enter a comatose state. Temperatures of 9oC or less would lead to death in a few minutes.
Tainan City is considered a major area for milkfish aquaculture. Milkfish rearing is a key industry within Cigu District, and the district is regarded as the leader of milkfish farming in the whole of Tainan as it has the largest area of fish ponds in the region. Milkfish farming has now become a highly specialized industry divided into multiple phases, namely the fry stage, 5-inch fingerling stage, and grow-out stage to reach full adulthood.
(1)Fry stage
In the old days, milkfish fry were directly harvested from the sea. Fish fry collection begins at around the Qingming Festival and lasts until the 9th month in the Lunar Calendar. Fry harvested during Qingming would be regarded as the most valuable stock. In earlier times, fish fry harvests peaked from every April to June. One would be able to see simple huts constructed by fish fry harvesters along the backshore of the coast. These huts served as temporary resting spots for the harvesters. Harvesters would slowly wade across the sea with a triangular forked net spread before them, allowing the current to sweep the fry into the net. Every now and then, the harvesters would empty the fry into the container. Nowadays, most fry are produced via artificial spawning. Regardless of the fry being derived from wild harvests or modern artificial spawning, the most enchanting melody along the coast is the voice of harvesters counting out the fry which goes: “3 to 7, 7 to 12, 12 to 15…” The harvesters would scoop the fry using a white porcelain spoon, adding the fry consecutively while singing the song until a sum of 100 fry is reached. A bamboo strip or paddy straw would be cast to signify 100 fish before the harvesters started from zero again. When the counting is done, one may only need to count the number of strips or straws to know how many fry there are.
(2)Rearing 5-inch fingerlings
Artificial breeders would rear the fry until they are about 1-inch long (these would be known as baishen or white-bodied fish due to their lack of scales). Fingerling farmers would then raise these 1-inch long fry in shallow ponds for about 2 months until they become 5-inch long fingerlings, which would then be transferred to the adult fish farmers.
(3)Adult fish
Adult fish farmers would take these 5-inch fry and rear them for 6 to 7 months until they acquire a weight of about 600 g (or 1.3 lbs.) and are ready for the market.
Milkfish harvesting is also divided into different seasons. Freshwater milkfish are harvested every April to June, while saltwater milkfish are usually harvested from June to October. Freshwater fish can also be harvested from October to dongzhi (the winter solstice, typically in December). Fish that are harvested after dongzhi to March of the following year would be raised in fisheries in Kaohsiung and Pingtung. Milkfish harvesting in Cigu District takes place from June to dongzhi. There are different harvesting times according to market demand, namely Buliu (harvested in the afternoon) and Mingliu (harvested at night). Afternoon harvests (Buliu) must be completed before the sun sets. Harvested fish is then shipped overnight to the fish markets in northern Taiwan. Fish harvested at night would be used to supply the local areas or nearby fish markets. With more and more people eating out, the demand for milkfish from caterers and restaurants has grown drastically beyond that of the markets. Hence, a number of fish farms have sold their harvests to vendors who supply restaurants.
 2、Gray mullet
The formal Chinese name of the gray mullet is Ziyu. The gray mullet is endemic along the Chinese coasts and spawns during winter. Generally, optimal spawning conditions for gray mullet occur at water temperatures of 22 to 20oC and salinity of 3.25 to 3.3%. At around dongzhi (winter solstice), schools of gray mullet would follow cold air masses along the seas off Taiwan's western coast. The fish would spawn in southwestern Taiwan before migrating back to the Chinese coasts. This would be the time when fishermen display their skills. Longshan Fish Harbor is the most important fishing port in Cigu District. In order to capture the schools of gray mullet going south, the fishermen would prepare extensively, wait for the right climatic conditions, and set off to harvest the migrating fish.
The gray mullet is an extremely valuable fish. Hence, fishermen have also nicknamed it gray gold. The orange roe of the female mullet and white roe of the male mullet as well as the stomach pouches of both fishes are considered the three treasures of the gray mullet. Additionally, the gray mullet fish itself has a succulent and juicy flesh that is rich in protein. Every part of the gray mullet is a source of wealth for the fishermen. Hence, the most important winter event for coastal fishermen would be to brave the cold tempests and net these schools of gray mullet.
Recently, however, gray mullet catches have become unstable. Chinese fishermen also joined the fishing practice, further depleting fish stocks throughout the years. Fortunately, breakthrough achievements have been made in gray mullet farming, allowing expansions of gray mullet farms as well as a gradual increase in the proportion of the production value of gray mullet in local aquaculture. Most wuyuzi (Karasumi, or preserved gray mullet roe) seen in the market is now harvested from farmed gray mullet.
Gray mullet farming in Taiwan started in 1980. Cigu District is a major fish rearing area, with the areas around Dujia Borough being the largest mullet farming area in Taiwan with 150 hectares of farms. Recent development in fish feed as well as artificial spawning techniques to replace harvesting of wild fish fry allowed further intensification of fish farming. Gray mullet has thus become a major farmed fish species in Taiwan.
 Wenge (Common orient clam, or hamaguri)
3、Wenge (Common orient clam, or hamaguri)
Meretrix lusoria clam (Meretrix lusoria, literally translated as the banded clam) is a bivalve (pelecypoda) mollusk that can only survive in marine or saltwater environments. It is also commonly known as hun-gio (powder worm). The scale of Meretrix lusoria clam aquaculture is only second to milkfish farming. Most Meretrix lusoria clam ponds are also used to rear milkfish. Wenge clams are used to control the bottom-dwelling algae population in fish ponds. These clams are able to grow by simply feeding on algae.
In the past, Meretrix lusoria clams were raised from wild larvae. However, wild larva stocks could no longer sustain farm expansions. Hence, many clam farmers turned to artificial spawning and breeding. The larvae are released into the ponds at the end of winter and early summer in ponds that are 45 to 50 cm deep. About 1 million to 1.6 million clams could be harvested from every hectare. When first released, each kilogram of clams would include about 800 juveniles. The clams would be allowed to grow until their shells reach 0.5 to 0.6 inches long, upon which they would be harvested and sold.
The growing period for Meretrix lusoria clams is about 10 to 15 months. To harvest them, a powerful water jet would be used to eject them from the sand at the bottom of the pool. The clams would fall on the catching nets at the back of the harvesting machine. Once the clams have been harvested, a sizing net would be used to separate the clams according to their different sizes so as to meet dealers' requirements. Clams that are greater than 0.6 inches would be considered medium-sized, while those between 0.5 to 0.6 inches would be small. Larger clams are worth more. Naturally, they are packaged according to size and delivered to the markets where they are sold.
Oysters are commonly called Ke or Hao, and are known for their nutritional value. The oyster is the most commonly farmed shellfish in the world. Those farmed in Taiwan are predominantly Pacific oysters.
Pacific oysters are quite adaptable to different levels of salinity. Hence, they're often raised at intertidal zones or estuaries. Coastal areas, lagoons, fish ponds, and waterways of salt pans of Cigu District have all been used to raise oysters. Areas devoted to oyster aquaculture in Cigu District is second only to those used to farm Wenge clams. At the hamlet of Hailiaozai, south of Longshan Borough, almost every villager is engaged in oyster farming. The intensity of the farming can be indirectly observed from the oyster farming tools that line the banks of Cigu River in front of Longhaigong (Dragon Sea Temple). The residents of Xiliao Borough are also engaged in oyster farming. Oyster-processing areas have also been set up at the farmers' activity center. Many residents of Sangu Borough and Shifen Borough are also oyster farmers. Together, these oyster farmers help generate the abundant harvests of oysters in Cigu.
Oysters are sedentary creatures, and would stick their left shells to rocks or other objects. Once cemented to their chosen locations, oysters will no longer be able move about except for opening and closing their shells, breathing, feeding, reproducing, excreting their waste, and waiting for the eventual harvest. The following lists the 3 common oyster farming methods employed in Cigu:
1. Longline Culture
Also known as the hanging style and most commonly employed in shallower intertidal zones. This is the most common means of oyster farming observed in Cigu District. Bunches of oysters secured to ropes are suspended from special supports. When the tide retreats, half of the oysters would be exposed to air. Oysters, however, are capable of tolerating extended periods of direct sunlight. Such exposure is said to have imparted a unique texture and flavor to the oysters.
2. Hanging trays
Typically employed in lagoons or tidal channels such as waterway 13 of Cigu and Dachaogou (the great tidal channel). Visitors can often see hanging oyster trays in these areas. During cultivation, the oysters would be lowered vertically into the ocean. Optimal arrangements would be having the current perpendicular to the direction of suspension to improve oyster feeding.
3. Floating trays
Floating trays are typically employed at larger water bodies where the water is deeper such as the mouth of the Zengwen River, Dachaogou, and lagoons. Bamboo is used to construct oyster trays. Styrofoam or sealed oil containers are used to float the oyster trays secured to their location by an anchor. Each bunch would contain 12 to 20 oysters suspended vertically from the trays. The oyster would be kept perpetually under water, even when the tide retreats. This method guarantees the fastest growing speed and highest productivity.
Groupers are a large group of warm-water fish with about 400 species distributed in the tropical and sub-tropical oceans. As groupers grow fast, are tolerant to environmental fluctuations and easy to manage, and tend to fetch good market prices, they proved to be a favorite species among many fish farmers. According to the 2009 study conducted in Cigu District, about 360 hectares of farms are used for growing groupers, second only to the area used for farming mullet. Of which, 230 hectares were devoted to the Longdan (giant grouper), 128 hectares to the qingban (banded grouper), and 1 hectare to the hongban (Hong Kong grouper). They are largely distributed in the Haipu and Meiguo fish farms.
 Wuguo Fish (Taiwan tilapia)
6、Wuguo Fish (Taiwan tilapia)
The wuguo fish is derived from the African Nile tilapia, and is currently the world's most farmed fish in terms of distribution and productivity. Wuguo fish is tolerant to environmental changes, grows fast, and is easy to rear. Such properties guaranteed the wide distribution of tilapia farms.
Eels are temperate fish that grow best in water temperatures of 20oC to 30oC. Farmed eels are regarded as commercially valuable fish. The popularity of eel farming soared after 1967 after the success of exporting eels to Japan, and reached a peak in 1989. Since 1994, however, influences from the external environment led to a gradual decline in eel farmers. There are 102 hectares of eel farms in Dujia Borough. The rest would be distributed in Yihe Borough and Sangu Borough. Early eel farmers would harvest wild larvae and then rear them until they reach their adult size. The modern eel farming industry is now highly specialized and divided into specific phases in order to improve farming efficiency. Eel farmers in Cigu District are specialized in rearing adult eels.
 White shrimp
8、White shrimp
White shrimp in Taiwan is a farmed shrimp species imported from Central and South America. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) formally named this species the whiteleg shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei). White shrimps are tolerant to environmental fluctuations and resistant against many diseases, guaranteeing high survivability. Most white shrimps are reared in mixed-aquaculture systems with milkfish and gray mullets, providing an important source of income for fish farmers.
 Wanggou (net traps)
9、Wanggou (net traps)
Cigu Lagoon occupies an area of 1300 hectares with 3 backshores and 2 openings into the sea. The lagoon is a famous ecological treasure trove containing a rich selection of flora and fauna that includes 125 species of fish and 73 species of shellfish, and serves as a vast fishing ground for the locals.
Wanggou (net traps) would be placed along water channels of all sizes, river mouths, lagoons, and oyster beds by the sea. Nets are arranged into a large and fixed V-shaped formation placed at waterways that fish would swim across. When the tide rises, the fish would swim along the current and enter the net traps.
Fishermen using such fixed nets would be able to catch things every day as the tide comes and goes. Each harvest brings up different fish species which may also vary in different seasons. These would include Asian tiger shrimp (Penaeus monodon), sand shrimp
(Metapenaeus ensis), oriental prawn (Exopalaemon orientis), gray mullet (Chelon affinis), Taiwan tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus), mud crab (Scylla serrata), dog crab (Carclisoma carnifex), niuwei (oxtail fish, or Platycephalids), ponyfish, mangrove red snapper (Lutjanus argentimaculatus), and blackhead seabream (Acanthopagrus schlegelii)