Taiwan has vowed to earmark rice for a collaborative food emergency response mechanism to be established under APEC, making it the first of 17 countries participating in the reserve system to do so, an official said yesterday.
Council of Agriculture Minister Chen Wu-hsiung (陳武雄) said Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) has instructed the council to assess how much the nation can offer.
Although Taiwan is only 32 percent self-sufficient in grain, mainly because it imports a lot of soybean, corn and wheat, the country is capable of providing generous rice aid to countries in need, Chen told a press conference following the weekly Cabinet meeting.
“At present we have 600,000 tonnes of rice in reserves, more than 50 percent of the annual rice consumption between 1.3 million and 1.4 million tonnes, far higher than the 17 percent to 18 percent safety level suggested by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization,” Chen said.
Other major food staples, such as corn and grain, could also be included in the humanitarian aid mechanism, he said, though he declined to give specific amounts, citing the need for an assessment.
At the Cabinet meeting, Chen presented the result of discussions at a recent Taipei forum of 65 senior officials, academics and -private-sector representatives from APEC member states to discuss the establishment of the mechanism.
The initiative was discussed at the First APEC Ministerial Meeting on Food Security held in Niigata, Japan, in October last year.
Wu fully endorsed the initiative that Taiwan submitted to the APEC Agricultural Technical Cooperation Working Group last year and urged the council to continue to push it through, Chen said.
It is estimated that the global population will increase to more than 9.1 billion by 2050 and food demand is expected to grow by more than 50 percent, but the impact of global climate change will increase the risk of food shortages in the future, the council said.
The food security system would be particularly helpful in the Asia-Pacific region, because 68 percent of the world’s natural disasters between 2000 and 2007 occurred in this region, Chen said.