Tue, Jul 19, 2011 - Page 2 News List

COA vows to protect farmland

HOMEGROWN:The council announced yesterday it has set a goal of increasing the self-sufficiency of the food supply from the current 32 percent, to 40 percent by 2020

By Lee I-Chia  /  Staff Reporter

Following farmers’ protests in front of the Presidential Office over the weekend, the Council of Agriculture (COA) yesterday said it would protect quality farmland and ensure that water supplies for agricultural use remain a priority.

Thousands of farmers and supporters took to the streets to protest an assortment of agricultural issues, demanding that the government deal with problems such as land expropriation, food safety and fair distribution of water for agricultural use.

The council said the government was responsible for protecting the safety of the food supply and regarded it as a matter of national security.

The council announced that it has set a goal of increasing the level of the nation’s food self-sufficiency from 32 percent to 40 percent by 2020.

The council added that 14 key strategies and 55 specific measures to ensure the safety of the food supply were detailed during the National Food Security Conference it held in May.

According to the council, some of the key conclusions reached by the conference were an emphasis on increasing food self-sufficiency, reinforcing international agricultural investments and cooperation, monitoring the amount of food in stock and establishing a reserve mechanism, as well as increasing the efficiency of agricultural water usage.

The council estimates that 710,000 hectares of farmland would be necessary to produce enough food to meet the basic requirements of about 2,000 calories a day per person.

At present, there are about 810,000 hectares of farmland in Taiwan, of which 300,000 hectares are designated as quality farmland.

The council said it intends to conclude a general investigation of all farmland and resources nationwide before the end of this year. The findings of this probe will be used as an important reference for farmland management and planning.

In addition, the council said only 1.5 percent of water for agricultural use had been diverted to industrial or commercial use, adding that this was only a temporary measure that would end as soon as new water sources were developed.

Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) said again on Thursday that land expropriation should avoid high-quality farmland and that a review must be conducted to demonstrate that any expropriation of farmland was necessary and reasonable, the council said.

Reducing the impact of industrial expansion on the farming environment is also a principle of the government’s policy, the council said, adding that amendments to regulations regarding farmland management were also being worked on.

In response to recent controversies about the imbalance of supply and demand of certain agricultural products, mainly bananas and papayas, the council said it would review and revise its strategies in the near future.

Healthy and refined agriculture would be prioritized, including the establishment of certification mechanisms and the promotion of organic food products, it added.

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