The plight of Pingtung onion farmers 恆春洋蔥農夫面臨歉收困境

Sat, Mar 02, 2013 - Page 11

Onions in Pingtung County’s Hengchun Peninsula are due for harvest, but there is much news about disease affecting a significant portion of onion farms in the area. After conducting a survey of the situation on Feb. 25, the county government’s Agriculture Department and Hengchun Township’s Farmers Association found that some of the pestilence is due to failure to properly care for the farms during the Spring Festival. Belated planting last year was also a contributing factor. The agencies are asking farmers not to chance it by testing their luck against nature.

The approximately 250 hectares of farmland devoted to onion cultivation in Hengchun this year is approaching harvest time, but crop failure is expected to affect nearly 40 hectares. After the local farmers association notified the Agriculture Department, personnel from the Pingtung Agricultural Research and Extension Station and the Agriculture and Food Agency came together on the morning of Feb. 25 to conduct an investigation. Their preliminary findings have determined that as the crop failure was not caused by a natural disaster, the government would be unlikely to give any assistance.

Farmers say that the impact of heavy rains during winter the year before last caused many farmers to have to replant their crop twice, incurring exorbitant costs that caused many to suffer loss the following year. Crops were planted slightly later than usual last year, so the onions failed to grow big because hot weather arrived earlier than expected.

The department’s investigation found that some farmers neglected their farms during the Lunar New Year and that the relatively hot and humid weather had caused disease among the crops. Some, however, were simply planted too late last year, which exposed the onions to excessively high temperatures during the growing process, reaching temperatures exceeding 25C° and causing the onions to stop growing. They are urgning farmers to plant onions at the usual time and pay close attention to weather changes.

(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)