Tue, May 31, 2016 - Page 5 News List

Organic farming to be prioritized: COA

RELATIVE NEWCOMER:An Agriculture and Food Agency official said that compared with EU nations, Taiwan has been slow to adopt environmentally friendly farming

Staff writer, with CNA

The Council of Agriculture (COA) said it plans to make a bigger push for the development of organic agriculture by promoting environmentally friendly farming methods in light of limited progress achieved in the government’s drive for organic farming over the past decade.

Although Taiwan has promoted organic farming for about 10 years, progress has been limited as organic farms constitute only 0.7 percent of the nation’s farmland, which is much lower than the more than 10 percent share seen in several EU member nations, an Agriculture and Food Agency official said.

In addition, after the Agricultural Production and Certification Act (農產品生產及驗證管理法) was promulgated in 2007, there were only 11 accredited institutions that can perform the certification process, as of the end of last year.

There are 2,439 hectares of land being used for organic farming of vegetables, 1,780 hectares for rice and 1,206 hectares for fruits.

The official said that in addition to providing NT$5,000 to NT$10,000 in subsidies for organic farmers to buy raw materials and farming equipment, the council also offers financial support for farmers to buy farmland and organic fertilizers.

While organic farms constitute only 0.7 percent of the nation’s total farmland, the rate is equivalent to that of the US and higher than Japan’s 0.24 percent, the official said.

However, compared with many EU member nations, which have been promoting organic farming for 50 years, Taiwan has been slow to adopt such agricultural practices, the official added.

Organic farming constitutes 10.3 percent of the agricultural sector in Italy, while it accounts for 11.9 percent in France and 16.3 percent in Switzerland.

Taiwan’s relatively low contribution of land to organic farming has mainly been attributed to the area of the nation’s farmland and the high potential for organic farms to be subject to contamination from neighboring fields, the agency said.

Therefore, the council has coordinated with state-owned institutions, such as Taiwan Sugar Corp and the Veterans Affairs Council, to release farmland for organic farming.

The COA plans to step up promotion of environmentally friendly methods of cultivation that aim to refrain from the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers to create arable land suitable for organic farming, the official said.

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