Thu, Nov 25, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Orange glut has greens feeling blue

ECONOMIC REALITIES As the opposition parties lamented that the ruling party didn't care about farmers, the COA pledged to buy up overpriced fruit

By Debby Wu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Democratic Progressive Party legislative whip Tsai Huang-liang eats an orange yesterday to promote the sale of oranges as Premier Yu Shyi-kun announced that the government will purchase oranges in bulk at 95 percent of the original production cost if oranges keep selling below cost.

PHOTO: CNA

Premier Yu Shyi-kun yesterday announced that the government would purchase oranges in bulk at 95 percent of their original production cost if the oranges keep selling below cost, as the pan-blue camp blamed the government for concentrating only on the election and ignoring domestic affairs.

Yu made the decision during the regular Cabinet meeting yesterday.

"If the price of oranges remains below production cost after we help the farmers promote oranges and purchase them in bulk, the Council of Agriculture (COA) will start to purchase oranges in bulk at 95 percent of their cost to help the price rise above the production cost," Yu said.

Yu gave the instructions after the council reported in the meeting that farmers will produce 230,000 tonnes of oranges this year, 13 percent more than last year.

The council pointed out that one of the fundamental principles of economics is that overproduction results in declining prices.

Yu also said that in the long term, the council should reform the marketing and sales channels for produce, and should especially develop international sales channels.

Other parties, meanwhile, blamed the government for ignoring the farmers' welfare.

The Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) caucus yesterday said that there was a lack of a comprehensive sales mechanism for Taiwanese agriculture, and the TSU would draft and promote a bill to take care of the farmers.

"The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) had it roots in agriculture, but now they have forgotten how difficult it is for the farmers to make a living. The oranges are now selling under NT$1 per catty, and this also shows that Taiwanese agriculture lacks a good prediction mechanism for possible sales," TSU Legislator Huang Cheng-che (黃政哲) said. Huang also demanded that the COA purchase more oranges in bulk.

The TSU said that they would promote the farmers' basic law to require that the government protect the agricultural produce's price, and subsidize the retired farmers with NT$13,550 a month.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus yesterday also scolded the DPP administration for caring only about the election, but not about farmers.

"The government is working on the election everywhere, but it can do nothing about the oranges except force the army to eat them. The government is completely oblivious to the condition of the farmers," KMT caucus whip Huang Teh-fu (黃德福) said.

Pai Tien-chi (白添枝), chairman of the Taipei County Farmers' Association and the KMT's legislator-at-large-to-be for the next legislature, pointed out that while fertilizer and chemicals were costing more and more, the price of the agricultural produce was falling.

"Now five catties of vegetables cannot buy a catty of fertilizer, and the farmers are driven to the wall," Pai said.

The DPP caucus ordered 20,000 catties of oranges to be given away to election campaign staff.

But while the opposition camp was trying to highlight how low the orange price was, it was understood that the DPP caucus purchased the oranges it demonstrated in the press conference for the price of NT$25 per catty, although the 20,000 catties it ordered for later use cost a little over NT$7 per catty.

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