Thu, Jul 19, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Ma proposes farming, agrarian reform plans

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Chinese Nationalist Party presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou poses for photos with children at a camp for aspiring journalists in Taichung City yesterday.

PHOTO: CHAN CHAO-YANG, TAIPEI TIMES

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday pledged to upgrade the Council of Agriculture to the Ministry of Agriculture and to turn the country into a global hub for floriculture and tropical fruits if elected.

Discussing agricultural policies with local residents and the farmers' associations in Taichung County, Ma also said he would take the authority over Taiwan Sugar Company from the Ministry of Economic Development to the Council of Agriculture and push for regulations on the regeneration of rural villages to revive the countryside within 10 years, for which he would allocate a budget of NT$150 billion (US$4.5 billion).

To improve farmers' lives, Ma said he would give rice farmers a NT$45,000 subsidy after the harvest of the first crop of rice and raise the old-age farmer allowance from NT$5,000 to NT$6,000.

"I proposed to raise the allowance four months ago and the president later asked the Executive Yuan to promise it would do so. The government adopted my policy, but that's ok," Ma said.

Describing his agriculture policies as the third-phase of agrarian reform, Ma said the village revival program would affect more than 4,000 farm villages in the countryside and 600,000 farmers.

The country went through two agrarian reforms -- the Farm Rental Reduction to 37.5 percent Program and the expansion of the farmland management.

Ma said his third-phase of reform would focus on putting many abandoned farmlands in the countryside to good use and regulating farmlands in urban areas.

The reform would also seek to help tenant-farmers rent the farmland at lower rates and establish farmland operation agencies to facilitate farmers' associations management of farmland use.

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