With food contamination involving pesticide residues being a major concern to consumers, a special way of growing carambola in Taiwan makes them especially appealing to health conscious consumers, said veteran farmer Chen Chia-hsin, who in 2000 introduced net house cultivation to his orchard. Chen, who has more 20 years of experience in the business, won a Taiwanese national award for outstanding farming skills the same year.
Chen says that net house farming reduces pesticide usage by more than 50 percent. Carambolas are covered by paper bags in their early stage of growth and stay protected from insects and other pests until they are harvested. The controlled environment also allows the fruit to be harvested year-round, whereas in the past it could only grow in fall and winter. This passes the traceability and certification systems initiated by the Taiwanese Council of Agriculture that is instrumental in ensuring product quality and safety.
Taiwanese carambola exports have remained stable over the years, exceeding 2,500 tons. Hong Kong and mainland China make up the majority of Taiwan’s outgoing shipments, followed by North America. The European Union is also a potential market, but is mainly dominated by Malaysian carambolas that are used for plate decoration.
This article is an abridged version of “Taiwan’s struggling star fruit sector stages comeback” by Meg Chang, published in Taiwan Today.