Tue, Jun 10, 2008 - Page 2 News List

Stamp out betel nut smuggling: lawmakers


Democratic Progressive Party legislators Pan Meng-an, left, and Su Chen-ching, second left, urge the coast guard to crack down on contraband betel nuts from Thailand and China's Hainan Province during a press conference at the legislature in Taipei yesterday.


Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers urged law enforcement authorities to tighten a crackdown on contraband betel nuts yesterday, warning that if the problem continued it could affect the livelihoods of farmers in the south.

DPP legislators Pan Meng-an (潘孟安) and Su Chen-ching (蘇震清) issued the call at a news conference at the Legislative Yuan.

They urged Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) to address the issue and asked the Coast Guard Administration to stamp out the increased smuggling of betel nuts into the nation, saying it had led to falling prices of locally produced betel nuts, seriously affecting the livelihoods of as many as 400,000 families.

Betel nuts smuggled from Thailand and China’s Hainan Province had been found on the domestic market “for the first time,” they said.

Pingtung County produces over 75,000 tonnes of betel nuts per year, accounting for more than 30 percent of the nation’s total output. Some 25,000 hectares of farmland in Pingtung are legally dedicated to the cultivation of the cancer-causing, addictive nuts.

Huang Teh-chin (黃德欽), a betel nut farmer from Pingtung County, said their crop was also badly hit by heavy rains that inundated central and southern areas last week.

“Our livelihoods will be adversely affected if the government fails to properly deal with the increasing numbers of contraband betel nuts in the domestic market,” he said.

Betel nut farmers may consider taking to the streets if the Executive Yuan fails to act on the issue, he said.

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