Farmers in the five irrigation zones that will face first-stage water rationing next year are advised to regenerate their farmland or grow crops with higher drought tolerance, Council of Agriculture (COA) Minister Chen Bao-ji (陳保基) said yesterday.
An emergency taskforce assembled by the Ministry of Economic Affairs earlier this month announced that the five zones in Greater Taoyuan, Hsinchu County, Miaoli County, Greater Taichung and Chiayi-Nantou, which are managed by the local departments of irrigation and engineering, are to face water restrictions.
The sanctions, which will affect 41,576 hectares of farmland, will be the second-largest in history.
Farmers in the affected areas have protested against the plan, saying that the government has prioritized the needs of the industrial sector over that of agriculture.
In response to the criticism, Chen yesterday said in the Legislative Yuan that the economics ministry has since last month capped the amount of water for industrial use at 25 percent of its usual quota.
He said that the plan would only affect 54 percent of rice paddies in the areas, which account for about 10 percent of the annual yield from fields in the irrigation zones, and 80 percent of farmland will still have irrigation in terms of space.
Chen said that the council has set a compensation of NT$85,000 for every hectare of field — 5 percent more than the average income of farmers.
“We hope that the farmers will join the nation in meeting the challenge by regenerating their land during the water restrictions, or plant crops that require less water,” he said.
“The purpose of announcing the water restrictions earlier than in previous years is so that farmers receive early notice and can take action in advance,” he added.
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