Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) made his first trip to inspect the flood-hit south yesterday and promised to subsidize farmers who have suffered losses.
Liu had faced heavy criticism in recent days for ignoring the damage to crops and farmland by flooding that hit on Wednesday.
Liu’s inspection tour of Pingtung County was met by a small protest, with several farmers and local councilors wielding banners accused the Cabinet of putting farmers in a desperate state amid flooding and rising fertilizer prices.
“The crops are rotten from the flood and we are starting to plow the field. It’s too late for him to see any damage now,” a farmer said.
Standing before a damaged rice paddy in Wandan (萬丹) Township, Liu promised to ask the Council of Agriculture (COA) to come up with a plan to subsidize the farmers even if the total damage caused by the floods failed to meet the threshold for government subsidies.
Facing criticism of slow government response and its failure to inspect the flood-hit areas earlier, Liu said he had to attend a question-and-answer session at the legislature last week and that he had organized the trip as quickly as possible.
Accompanied by Kaohisung County Commissioner Yang Chiu-hsing (楊秋興), Liu promised to invite local governments to participate in the decision-making process on agricultural matters.
“We are not making empty promises. The government will take care of the people,” he said.
The council said agricultural losses from heavy rains in central and southern Taiwan in recent days amounted to more than NT$50 million (US$1.65 million).
Pingtung County has been hit the hardest, suffering losses totaling NT$17.92 million, followed by Changhua at NT$11.52 million, Yunlin at NT$10.18 million, Kaohsiung at NT$8.61 million, Hsinchu at NT$1.95 million and Tainan at NT$510,000.
Yang said the government should increase the subsidies on fertilizers and attempt to stabilize commodity prices to prevent any unreasonable price increases for fruits and vegetables in the wake of typhoons and other natural disasters.
Aside from fertilizers, the price of pork has also increased to more than NT$100 per kilogram in Hsinchu City. Pork prices in other parts of the country, including Ilan and Kaohsiung County, had gone from NT$80 to about NT$100 per kilogram, the ROC Livestock Association said.
In response to continuous price increases, COA Chairman Chen Wu-hsiung (陳武雄) said the council was helping farmers with farm rehabilitation after the flood, while increasing the quantity of pigs it would allow on the market from 20,000 to 30,000 per day to stabilize prices.
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