Premier Lin Chuan inspected a grain cultivation project in Yunlin County today as part of the administration’s efforts to promote locally grown produce and encourage the transformation of rice production.
Despite many difficulties ahead, the government is determined to revitalize Taiwan’s agricultural industry by recruiting young people, employing new methods and innovating production environments, he said. Hopefully everyone can work together to pass on their experiences to the many young Taiwanese who have already entered the field, and help make Yunlin County a leading example for the grain cultivation project.
The purpose of the new agricultural paradigm, one of the “five plus two” innovative industries proposed by President Tsai Ing-wen, is to resolve Taiwan’s farming problems, Premier Lin said. If the agricultural industry does not change, no one will invest in it, young people will flock to cities instead of the countryside for work, and farming villages will be left without hope. Taiwan therefore must modernize its agricultural sector to narrow this regional development gap.
Land-use planning and the consolidation and utilization of land will be key efforts for agricultural reform, the premier continued. For instance, the Council of Agriculture’s (COA) policy of purchasing crops from farmers at fixed prices is designed to give them another option, while using minimum prices in agricultural subsidies will motivate farmers to grow high-value crops. Other measures proposed by the government will attract more young people to the farming sector and bring hope back to Taiwan’s rural villages.
According to the COA, the grain cultivation project aims to raise Taiwan’s grain self-sufficiency by increasing farmland for coarse grains by 30,000 hectares by the year 2020. This will be achieved by reducing the acreage of rice fields, reviving fallow land, and developing a variety of high-quality coarse grains as import substitutes. The plan will encourage farmers across the country to switch from rice to coarse grains—in northern Taiwan rice fields where the season’s second crop yields low productivity, in coastal central Taiwan farmlands dedicated to ratoon rice cropping, in the “golden agricultural corridor” along the high-speed rail line, and in southern Taiwan rice fields that plant two crops per season.
After years of effort by the COA to revive fallow farmland and raise the grain self-sufficiency rate, Taiwan has seen a gradual expansion in the production of soybeans, wheat, sesame, Chinese mesona and flint corn. The council will continue to guide farmers, encourage contract farming and contract marketing, and develop a model where locally grown raw materials are used to meet local demands. The COA will also continue promoting fresh, domestically grown and non-genetically modified crops that are safe and healthy to consume.