Fri, May 16, 2008 - Page 2 News List

Officials laud increased, better quality food exports

AGRICULTURAL SUCCESS Exports are on the increase, with the nation's farmers looking to produce safer, better quality advanced goods for export overseas

By Meggie Lu  /  STAFF REPORTER

A farmer sits in his field of watermelons in Hualien County yesterday. The quality of watermelons has improved constantly, helping to increase the nation's exports.

PHOTO: CNA

The nation's agricultural exports last year increased by US$134 million from 2006, the Council of Agriculture said yesterday at an award ceremony, lauding the achievements of a dozen outstanding agricultural enterprises.

In the past few years, the main agricultural exports have been mainly butterfly orchids, eels, rice and tea, council Chairman Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) said.

However, last year, in order to increase exports, the council expanded its list of products to focus on to include bananas, edamame soybeans and mangos, he said.

“Mango exports, which contributed US$9.82 million to export revenues last year, saw a 130 percent increase from 2006, while butterfly orchid exports grew 40.2 percent to US$49.6 million,” he said. “This shows that cooperation between businesses, farmers and the government can further improve the competitiveness of our products.”

Other potential golden gooses include the blood parrot, a type of ornamental fish cross-bred by a fish farmer in 1992, which is sold at up to NT$1,000 per fish in EU markets, more than 13 times its value here, said Chen Ruey-long (陳瑞榮), chief of the international marketing section at the council’s Department of International Affairs.

Asked about the threat posed by low-priced, Chinese products on the international market, Chen said Taiwanese goods target a separate market from Chinese exports.

“When it comes to cut-price competition, Taiwanese products do not enjoy a competitive edge,” Chin said. “However, we are clearly ahead when it comes to producing better quality, safer and more advanced goods [like new ornamental fish]. We are very careful with safety and quality control, such as the use of pesticides, which is currently poorly regulated in China. In the future, we plan to focus our international efforts in Europe, Japan and the US — countries with higher purchasing power that look for quality products.”

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