Mon, Sep 12, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Typhoon just brushes northern part of the country, but vegetable prices climb

OVERREACTION?Once again, the price of the benchmark green onion has climbed on the merest rumor that bad weather would affect agriculture

BY JEAN LIN  /  STAFF REPORTER

Fallen stones are shown above at a section of the northern cross-nation highway after Typhoon Kahnun skirted the northeastern tip of Taiwan.

PHOTO: CHOU MIN-HUNG, TAIPEI TIMES

Originally forecast as heading straight for Taiwan, Typhoon Khanun yesterday diverged from its projected path, moving northwest and merely skirting the northeastern tip of the nation.

The land warning was lifted at 5:30am yesterday, followed by the sea warning at 2:30pm.

However, the Central Weather Bureau warned of rough waters, and advised boats to take caution.

Showers and cloudy skies were expected in the northern and northeastern parts of the country following the typhoon, but no flooding has been reported so far.

Although having avoided floods and casualties, the typhoon has nevertheless left lingering worries.

One concern is the sky-high price of vegetables, with scallion prices in Ilan rocketing to a high of NT$420 per kilogram on Friday.

According to the Council of Agriculture, scallion prices dropped to NT$300 yesterday, and vegetable prices are expected to gradually return to normal.

Worried shoppers crowded traditional markets and hypermarts, hoping to find the best bargain.

However, prices are still relatively higher than before, even in hypermarts, said Hsu Ai-chen (徐愛珍), a shopper in the midst of the bustling crowd at the Muzha traditional market.

"Our salaries remain the same, but the vegetable prices are three to four times higher than before, making it hard for most families," she said.

"I wanted to buy a head of cabbage today, but the first vendor I asked said it was NT$200, so I settled for the second vendor, who sold it to me for NT$80 -- still expensive compared to the usual NT$30," she added.

Another shopper, Wu Feng-mei (吳鳳梅), said that the rise in prices does not seem like a short-term phenomenon.

"I think the vendors raise the prices on purpose," she said. "It's not only because of the typhoon." Both shoppers interviewed said that they have long given up on purchasing scallions.

"They used to be given away almost for free, now it's NT$50 for a small bundle. I don't really need them," Hsu said.

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