YILAN COUNTY in northern Taiwan which we visited a few years back might as well be called Kumquat Country because over a hundred farmers there produce no less than 3,000 tons of fresh fruits.
SMALL CITRUS – Kumquat is small citrus species that is very prolific. A relative of the calamansi that you and I know, the fruits are golden yellow when ripe and can be eaten fresh including the skin. Heavily fruiting potted kumquat is a favorite décor during Chinese New Year and one such potted plant can cost a fortune in the Philippines.
BIGGEST PROCESSOR – In Yilan, the biggest kumquat processor is the Agrioz Food Co. managed by the very amiable Ting Kang Lin who was educated in Singapore where he learned his fluent English. The company processes at least 1,500 tons of fruits supplied by farmers each year. These are made into many different candies and preserves.
CONVERTED INTO COZY CAFE – Kumquat candy making was started long ago by his grandparents. When he took over to manage the company, he converted the old factory into a cozy café which attracted many visitors. Then he built a modern factory for making various kumquat sweets. Unlike other big companies, the factory is open to everybody through a glass panel above the workers. And anybody can take pictures.
DIY: MAKING BOTTLED PRESERVES – Do-it-Yourself activities are offered. One of them is making bottled preserves which can be ready for consumption in just a few days. Because of the beautiful ambiance, newlywed couples often have their pictorial in Agrioz Food. According to Ting Kang Lin, sometimes as many as five couples hold their pictorial in the place and each one pays a fee of NT$1,000. That’s about P1,600 in Philippine money.
BALIMBING & OTHER DRIED FRUITS – A lot of people really visit Agrioz Food for its many varieties of kumquat sweets. Aside from kumquat, they also have other dried fruits like balimbing (star fruit) pineapple and others.
WHO ARRANGED OUR TRAVEL – Our visit was arranged by Calem Ngan of the Taiwan Leisure Farms Development Association in collaboration with Jane Chen, a travel agent in Manila. Agrioz Food is a member of the TLFDA that is promoting agritourism in that country.