Wed, Jan 27, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Damage to agriculture totals NT$404.81 million

By Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter

Fishermen forage on a beach in Kaohsiung’s Mituo District yesterday as sea bass, damaged by the recent cold snap in Taiwan, lie on the sand.

Photo: CNA

The nation’s agriculture and aquaculture sectors suffered losses worth hundreds of millions of New Taiwan dollars due to one of the strongest cold fronts in years, with legislators calling on the government to accelerate efforts to assess damage and provide compensation.

The cold spell has caused irreparable damage to 1,583 hectares of crops, with strawberries suffering the most damage, the Council of Agriculture said.

Mass die-offs of fish were reported in central and southern municipalities, with Tainan bearing the brunt, as the city alone suffered losses of NT$231.86 million (US$6.88 million) in damaged fish stock, especially milkfish.

Losses as of yesterday totaled NT$404.81 million, with the aquaculture sector registering the heaviest losses, at NT$327.08 million.

The council on Monday declared all cities and counties in the nation as disaster areas, and farmers who sustained losses of more than 20 percent of their crops or stock can apply for a cash grant to resume farming, while damage in the fishery industry was expected to continue to increase.

Legislator Lee Hung-chun (李鴻鈞) — who quit the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and joined the People First Party (PFP) before the elections — said prices of vegetables in the past few days were appreciably higher than in the same period last year, while demand would continue to increase ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays, so the government should set up measures to stabilize the market and maintain reasonable prices.

Non-Partisan Solidarity Union Legislator May Chin (高金素梅) said the damage wrought by cold and snow in mountainous areas had not been seen in decades, and the government should enact special compensation measures for damaged crops grown at higher altitudes, which provide a livelihood to many Aborigines.

PFP legislator-elect Chou Chen Hsiu-hsia (周陳秀霞) said 90 percent of the fishing ponds in Tainan’s Syuejia District (學甲), or about 1,800 hectares of ponds, were damaged, and salvaged fish could only be left to rot because of insufficient freezer storage facilities.

Chou Chen called on the government to place more freezers in fish farming regions to reduce losses.

Agriculture and Food Agency Deputy Director Chen Chun-yen (陳俊言) said the diminishing supply of vegetables was largely due to delays in harvests rather than weather damage, and that vegetables were damaged as much as fruit trees, which suffered the most damage.

The damage to milkfish stocks would not have a significant impact on the supply of aquatic products, as the shortage could be made up by other fish species and ocean fisheries, Chen said.

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