Fri, Jul 18, 2003 - Page 3 News List

President reaches out to farmers and fishermen

IN THE COUNTRYSIDE The president sought to allay fears in the agricultural community that the government is hell-bent on eliminating their credit units

CNA , TAIPEI

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) vowed yesterday to take care of the nation's farmers and fishermen by offering them "three promises and one hope."

The president, accompanied by Chen Tze-nan (陳哲男), vice secretary-general of the Presidential Office, made the remarks in a seminar held at the Kangshan Township Farmers' Association in Kaohsiung.

The seminar, sponsored by the Council of Agriculture (COA), was also attended by officials from Kaohsiung, Pingtung and Kinmen counties.

The president responded to their questions.

Claiming that "agriculture is the roots of Taiwan and stable agriculture will lead to a stable and progressive society," the president said that he hopes to gain a better understanding of the farmers' situation, hear their true voice and take better care of them.

He promised that the government will side with the farmers' and fishermen's associations and will not eradicate them, saying that the credit departments of these associations are the "heart" of the grass-roots financial institutions on which the farmers and fishermen rely.

He also promised that following the passage through the legislature of the Agricultural Finance Law, the government will better address the needs of fishermen and provide better agriculture financial services, so that the protection of farmers' and fishermen's deposits will improve.

He also promised that if the operations of credit departments of farmers' and fishermen's associations run into trouble, the government will first provide counselling and if there are still difficulties, then they will be addressed through the merging of credit departments rather than by having them taken over by commercial banks.

He expressed hope that the development of agriculture will rely on upgrades for agricultural technology and strengthening of the marketing of agricultural products.

He said the Council of Agriculture will take the initiative to cooperate with the farmers' and fishermen's associations, introduce new production technology, upgrade agricultural value, and combine advertising, marketing, warehousing and distribution operators to form strategic alliances so that "the best farm and fishery products in Taiwan can be introduced to the world and Taiwan can become a modern agricultural powerhouse."

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