Retired sergeant major Wu Chang-kuei was given a winning title for rice cultivation at a ceremony in Meinong District, at which a special screening of The People in the Field, a documentary about farmers in Meinong made by Hakka TV, was shown.
Five people advanced from the first round of the competition, in which farmers’ fields and the quality of their rice were judged. Wu took up rice farming after retirement and took home the title of “champion rice” at the competition in Kaohsiung. The former military man wore his army uniform, including a command sergeant major’s shoulder pin.
The results of the final round were announced by Meinong Farmers’ Association head of staff Chung Ching-hui before the awards were handed out by Lo Cheng-tsung, director of the Agriculture and Food Agency’s Southern Region Branch. After receiving the award, Wu raised his arms and shouted, “Show the spirit of military personnel. The old sergeant major is setting an example for young soldiers.”
“Growing rice is like taking care of grandchildren,” as attention must be paid to the weather and fertilization every day, Wu shared, adding that he would learn from the experience of other winners.
Wu is to represent the district at the Agriculture and Food Agency’s Taiwan Rice Master Championship.
Second and third place went to Huang Wei-chen and Tseng Chi-shang, respectively.
Wu, 76, served in the military for 45 years, specializing in chemical engineering before retiring from the Ministry of National Defense’s Combined Logistics Command with the rank of command sergeant major in 2005, taking over his wife’s work in the rice fields after retirement. He previously won the Meinong title in 2017 and was runner-up in the Taiwan rice group at the national championship in 2020.