Thu, Aug 11, 2005 - Page 10 News List

Farmers raise a stink about stockpiled garlic sales


Some 300 garlic farmers from Yunlin County gather in the Legislative Yuan yesterday to protest the Council of Agriculture's release of garlic stockpiles onto the market. The protesters said the council had suppressed prices for domestically produced garlic for no reason.


Some 300 garlic farmers from Yunlin County were bused to Taipei yesterday to protest what they said was the government's "suppression of the price of domestic garlic."

Noting that there is no garlic supply problem in the country and that prices for domestic garlic are low, the farmers lashed out at the Council of Agriculture for putting stockpiled garlic on the market.

They said the council's move had disturbed prices "for no reason."

They said that only when garlic prices hit NT$50 per kilogram or higher as a result of shortages in supply should the council put stockpiled garlic on the market.

The director of the council's Department of Food and Agriculture, Huang You-tsai (黃有才), said the council released the garlic because two typhoons had inundated the country with torrential rain over the past two weeks, causing vegetable prices to skyrocket, particularly that of green onions.

Since garlic can be used as an alternative to green onions, the council released the stockpiles.

Huang said the stockpiled garlic, totaling 1.8 tonnes per day, was only equal to about 1.5 percent of total daily garlic sales nationwide.

According to Yu Yuan-fa (余源發), one of the protesters, about 57,000 tonnes of garlic is expected to be produced this year. With some 9,000 tonnes being procured by the government, about 48,000 tonnes are expected to be sold on the domestic market, which, Yu said, consumes an average of 47,000 tonnes a year.

Some 4,000 tonnes has been stockpiled since last year and Taiwan is scheduled to import 3,500 tonnes this year under WTO requirements, Yu said.

So garlic prices will only be driven lower, which means the council had no reason to release its stockpile at the time when supply is sufficient and the prices are reasonably low at between NT$33-NT$40 per kilo, he said.

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