Houlong Township in Miaoli County is best known for its watermelons, which are a feature of the annual Watermelon Festival in late June that began in 2014. And the harvest season for the region’s watermelon is about to begin.
In effort to verify the watermelons grown in Houlong, the county government began issuing QR stamps to farmers who apply for the certification, UDN reported. In the last two days, the government has issued more than 20,000 certifications. The township began offering certification stamps to farmers last year to reduce instances of counterfeit Houlong watermelon. This year’s stamp incorporates a QR code for consumers to trace the origin of their purchase.
Police in the region have also begun increased patrols of the 200 hectares of watermelon farmland in Houlong to protect the crops from thieves. Over the years, there has been agricultural theft throughout Taiwan, particularly when produce prices have spiked.
The township produced 90,000 stamps for which farmers could apply to receive. Applications opened on May 21. One local farmer who applied for the stamps yesterday, said that since the implementation of the certification last year, sales have improved.
The Miaoli Agriculture Department said that the recent rain storms that caused damage across Taiwan did not have a significant impact on this year’s harvest in the region. Meanwhile, in Yunlin, storms have caused an estimated NT$47 million (US$1.5 million) in damages to watermelon crops, which could further increase the price of Houlong watermelon this summer.
“During Japanese Rule, an emperor loved Houlong’s watermelons so much that he named them ‘the best melons of Taiwan,’” according to the Miaoli County Culture and Tourism Bureau. Houlong Mayor Chu Chiu-jung (朱秋隆) said that the township’s watermelons are recognized throughout Taiwan and the region has to protect its reputation, which led to the decision to include a QR code on the stamps this year.