Thu, Nov 16, 2006 - Page 12 News List

Ilan County seeks online buyers for produce

By Jackie Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Shopping for east coast specialties or agricultural produce can be just a mouse click away now that the Ilan County Government has launched an online supermarket to showcase a wide array of products from its 10 township farmers' associations.

Ilan County is the first local government to integrate resources that used to operate independently onto the same digital platform, county Commissioner Lu Kuo-hua (呂國華) told a press conference in Taipei yesterday.

The county's two fishermen's associations will soon join the Web site as well, Lu said.

County government statistics show 1.84 million people visited Ilan last year. Annual revenues for recreational agricultural tourism hit NT$1.8 billion (US$54.9 million), accounting for one-third of the total nationwide.

"Recreational agriculture is an important tourism asset for Ilan County. By building this Web site, we can polish the brand image of Ilan's famous agricultural produce and help boost farmers and fishermen's business by creating a new retail channel," said Lu, who wore a chef's toque and apron to help publicize the launch of the Web site (http://agrishop.ilfa.org.tw).

The Web site currently offers 150 items in six categories -- tourism products, processed products, organic produce, fresh foodstuffs, souvenirs and Ilan specialties.

Wu Po-ching (吳柏青), director of the county's Bureau of Agriculture, said most of the orders will likely come from non-Ilan residents.

The opening of the 12.9km-long Hsuehshan Tunnel (雪山隧道) in June has boosted tourim in the county by reducing the driving time between Taipei and Ilan from two hours to as little as 30 minutes.

Wu said the county government had been considering establishing a centralized retail center for agricultural products, but the lack of freeway rest stops had stalled the plan. Joining forces with the farmers' associations to go digital was a good alternative, Wu said.

Would-be on-line shoppers must first register on the site as a member. They can pay for their purchases by credit card or at a convenience stores. The products will then be delivered to their homes.

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