A task force on stabilizing imported food prices and supplies of locally produced food will meet next week at the earliest, a Council of Agriculture official said yesterday.
Chen Wen-teh (陳文德), director-general of the Agriculture and Food Agency, said the task force would discuss “local production and distribution, the promotion of rice consumption and a revival of fallow paddy fields and sugar plantations.”
He said that at the request of Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義), the task force would be formed by the council, the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of the Interior.
He said the nation currently has a rice inventory of 470,000 tonnes, accounting for 36 percent of the country’s total consumption and far higher than the 17 percent to 18 percent recommended by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization.
Taiwan’s self-sufficiency rate in rice is as high as 95 percent, although the nation relies heavily on imported grain for livestock feed, Chen added.
For this reason, if prices of corn and soybeans rise, it would trigger a spike in livestock prices that would also affect consumer prices, he said.
Chen’s deputy, Yu Sheng-feng (游勝鋒), said the goal of the task force is to stabilize both the volume and price of imported food.
Yu said the nation imports 5 million tonnes of corn for animal feed every year and 2 million tonnes of soybeans, and it is prone to the impact of higher import prices and fluctuations in the supplies of imported products.
He said the council would encourage the public to eat more locally grown rice and cut consumption of flour products, while continuing to encourage farmers to plant corn and soybeans on fallow land.
“Although this reactivated land might not produce much, it will make up for some of the shortfall and cut the proportion of imported grain,” Yu said.