Thu, Aug 09, 2012 - Page 4 News List

Typhoon-stricken banana farmers get cheap sprouts

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

The Council of Agriculture yesterday announced the release of cheaper banana sprouts to help banana farmers restore their plantations that were severely damaged by Typhoon Saola last week.

According to a statistical report from the council, the total agricultural damage caused by the typhoon has reached an estimated NT$1.07 billion (US$35.7 million), with total crop damage of about NT$701 million. The most damage recorded in a single crop, about NT$168.4 million, was in banana plantations.

To help banana farmers restore their damaged plantations, the council said it has provided cash relief, specialized subsidies and low-interest loans to the damaged areas, based on the Implementation Rules of Agricultural Natural Disaster Relief.

The council said it has also asked technical service teams to assist banana farmers in land rehabilitation, as well as help with negotiations with the Taiwan Banana Research Institute to reduce the price of banana sprouts by about NT$3 or NT$4 per sprout.

Agriculture and Food Agency Deputy-Director Huang Mei-hua (黃美華) said farmers grow about 2,000 banana plants on one hectare of land, so if the price of sprouts is reduced by NT$3 or NT$4 each, it can help farmers save about NT$6,000 to NT$8,000 per hectare.

Moreover, the council said a reduced price of NT$4 will be charged for preordered banana sprouts, while an amount of sprouts totaling 5 percent of every preorder will be given as a gift to farmers who are willing to wait three months before getting their sprouts.

The prices of four types of banana sprouts provided by the institute were between NT$13 and NT$14 per sprout, but the amounts were reduced to NT$10 and NT$11 each under this policy, the council said.

Post-typhoon numbers

Total agricultural damage: NT$1.07 billion (estimate).

‧ Total crop damage: about NT$701 million (estimate).

‧ Banana-crop damage: about NT$168.4 million (estimate).

‧ Sprout price reduction: NT$3 or NT$4 per sprout, lowering prices to NT$10 and NT$11 per sprout.

‧ Savings per hectare: NT$6,000 to NT$8,000.

‧ Preorder savings: A further NT$1 per sprout.

Source: Couincil of agriculture

It added that farmers who place preorders would be able to purchase the sprouts at prices of NT$9 and NT$10 each.

To prevent the restoration of banana plantations only over this summer, the council urged banana farmers to plan growing periods, and thus their harvesting periods, according to the market’s needs.

It also encouraged farmers to start planting in October, to meet the export market’s demand in their first harvest in October next year.

The council said the reduced sprout prices for banana farmers were implemented yesterday and would apply until Jan. 31.

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