The recent hike in fuel prices may have increased prices on every retail item, but it has had the opposite, yet equally harmful, effect on agricultural produce, according to a vegetable farmer in southern Taiwan.
Chen Wen-chien (陳文乾), who owns a plot of land of about 10,000m2 in Pingtung County’s Jhutian Township (竹田) that he uses to grow cabbage, said the wholesale price of cabbage has fallen to about NT$2 per head because of the increase in fuel prices.
A 70kg to 80kg crate of cabbages cannot be sold even if it is priced at NT$100, Chen said.
Due to the low profit, retailers are unwilling to come out to the field to harvest the cabbages and transport them to markets for sale, he added.
Since the retailers are not selling, some farmers have chosen to simply let the cabbages rot in the fields and use them for compost.
The lives of farmers in Pingtung County have been tough in recent years, including an outbreak of rice blast fungus and the infection of red bean crops by another disease, leading to a poor harvest and resulting in the price of red beans falling from NT$40 per jin (600g) to NT$20 per jin, he said.
“Now you cannot even make money planting cabbages, with four heads of cabbage only amounting to the price of one tea egg [NT$8] at a convenience store,” Chen said.
Translated by Jake Chung, staff writer