Fri, Oct 20, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Legislators lash out at COA over glut of bananas

STAFF WRITER , WITH CNA

People First Party (PFP) lawmakers accused the Council of Agriculture (COA) yesterday of failing to respond quickly enough to a recent banana glut in central and southern Taiwan that has caused prices of the fruit to drop sharply.

PFP caucus whip Cheng Chin-ling (鄭金玲) and other party lawmakers, Hsu Yao-chang (徐耀昌) and Chung Shao-ho (鍾紹和), made the comments at a Legislative Yuan seminar with council officials, including Agriculture and Food Agency Director-General Tsai Ching-chiang (蔡精強).

Although there has been a 20 percent increase in banana production this year because of last year's good prices, PFP lawmakers said the council must be held accountable for the dilemma because its forecasting and monitoring systems had failed.

Local farmers were not the only ones eager to cash in on the fruit, as many Japanese businessmen had also purchased farmland from Taiwan Sugar Corporation and grown bananas in Taiwan for export to Japan -- something that would certainly hurt local banana shipments bound for that country, the lawmakers pointed out.

It was obvious the council's monitoring mechanisms had fallen short, damaging the interests of Taiwanese farmers, they said, insisting that the council assume responsibility for the failure.

According to Tsai, the council has demanded that state-run Taiwan Sugar Corporation release no more land for banana farming while working on a series of promotional incentives to encourage the government and private sector to consume more of the fruit.

Council assessments showed that domestic market demand for bananas remained stable and that the key to resolving an oversupply is to explore export opportunities, including Japan and other countries in Southeast Asia, Tsai said. He added that the council would shortly launch a two-week sales promotion in Japan in cooperation with a Japanese company.

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