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Mud volcano tofu makes village famous

HALIAN, Taiwan -- The people of Luoshan in Fuli township in Hualien, eastern Taiwan, have in recent years succeeded not only in developing their village into Taiwan’s first organic agricultural garden, but also in inventing a unique type of tofu, or soybean curd, that has made the tiny village famous among nature-loving tourists.

Mud volcano tofu — an organic food product made of locally grown soy beans and natural brine from a mud volcano in the village — has played an indispensable role for years in tour packages that offer a farm life experience in the “organic village, “ according to local agricultural officials.

The local administration, farmers’ association and the officials of the Hualien District Agricultural Research and Extension Station under the Cabinet level Council of Agriculture (COA) recreated the special tofu, using a traditional and once-lost skill, with the assistance of senior residents in Luoshan community. Now these skills are passed to visitors who like the product and want to know how it is made, said agricultural officials.

In 2002, the COA began efforts to develop Luoshan into an organic village. Thanks to the rich soil, clean water and the village’s location far from industrial pollution, local farmers have been able to grow rice and many other organic agricultural products that have gained a reputation for high quality, the officials said.

Under the government’s leisure agriculture development programs, Luoshan village, surrounded by mountains, has also become a tourist attraction, they added.

Luoshan, situated between the Central and the Eastern Coastal mountain ranges, is home to some 170 families that total around 600 people, 80 percent of whom are Hakka — one of the major ethnic groups in Taiwan.

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