Sat, Jun 23, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Prices increase as heavy rains spell heavy losses

BAD HARVEST:The Agriculture and Food Agency has said it is maintaining the supply of refrigerated vegetables to meet holiday demand as prices have risen 64 percent

Staff writer, with CNA

Cabbage damaged by flooding is seen in a field in Yunlin County yesterday.

Photo: Chan Shih-hung, Taipei Times

Wholesale prices of leafy vegetables in Taipei had risen 64 percent yesterday from the levels they were at before the recent period of heavy rain and Tropical Storm Talim, as agricultural losses continued to increase nationwide.

In Taipei fruit and vegetable markets, the average price of leafy vegetables was NT$24.7 per kilogram yesterday, up from NT$22.9 on the previous day and NT$15.1 on June 8 prices, before the onset of heavy rains nationwide.

The price of cabbages grew 29 percent to NT$17.2 per kilogram from the NT$13.4 per kilogram recorded on June 8 and rose 9.7 percent from Thursday’s level. Chinese cabbage prices surged by 27 percent to NT$16.6 per kilogram from NT$13.1 on June 8.

The director of the Council of Agriculture’s Food Agency, Li Tsang-lang (李蒼郎), said the recent release of refrigerated vegetables onto the market will continue in an effort to maintain stable prices for the Dragon Boat Festival, one of the most important festivals in Taiwan, which is observed today.

Li said he expects a jump in today’s vegetable trade volume because local markets will be closed for two days after the festival.

Meanwhile, due to devastating torrential rain brought by Tropical Storm Talim over the past few days, consumers in central and southern Taiwan have not only had to deal with the problem of rising vegetable prices, but also a lack of supply.

“There are no sweet potato leaves to harvest at all because the vegetables have been ruined by the rain,” a farmer in Pingtung County said.

Tsai Liang-hsi (蔡兩喜), head of a vegetable and fruit association in Pingtung, said normally farmers would grow fewer vegetables in the summer because of the frequency of natural disasters like torrential rain, storms and flooding.

“Prices will of course incresase [when floods occur],” he said, adding that his own crop of beans was completely flooded. “There are no beans to be picked.”

Tsai also predicted squash prices would rise in the next 10 days due to dwindling supplies.

As of yesterday, agricultural losses caused by the recent heavy rains have escalated to NT$870 million (US$29 million), according to statistics released by the council.

Significant losses were also reported in the livestock, fishery and forestry industries, it said. Livestock losses were estimated at NT$12.33 million, fishery losses at NT$83.86 million and forestry losses at NT$3.98 million, the statistics showed.

Agriculture officials said the government has activated aid programs that will offer subsidies and low-interest loans to farmers who suffered losses as a result of the heavy rains.

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