Fri, Aug 11, 2017 - Page 4 News List

Local edible oils gain in market

CREATIVE CONSERVATION:The Agriculture and Food Agency has planted 1,850 hectares of sesame and camellia and helped develop tools for easier harvesting

By Jake Chung  /  Staff writer, with CNA

A man demonstrates the use of a new camellia harvesting tool at a news conference at the Agriculture and Food Agency in Taipei on Wednesday.

Photo: CNA

A project launched two years ago by the Council of Agriculture to boost domestic food oil production has helped locally produced high-quality oils to increase their market share to 6 percent, Agriculture and Food Agency Director-General Chen Jen-pin (陳建斌) said.

The project has also seen the development of new machinery that is more efficient at pressing sesame and camellia oil, Chen said.

The agency launched the project in 2015, following numerous adulterated food oil scandals, with the goal of protecting the nation’s food safety by providing safe sources of edible oil, Chen told a new conference in Taipei on Wednesday.

Over the past two years, the agency has planted 1,850 hectares of sesame and camellia, Chen said, adding that it has also planted peanuts and soybeans to supplement oil types.

Boosting domestic production has led to a decline in imports, Chen said, adding that locally produced camellia now amounts to 20 to 30 percent of annual imports, and locally grown sesame amounts to 7.5 percent of imports.

The nation imports 8,000 tonnes of camellia and 3,000 tonnes of sesame each year.

The project had six major accomplishments, the first of which was the selection of seeds for camellia and sesame, as well as establishing a standard for the mass production of sesame and camellia oil, agency official Fang Yi-tan (方怡丹) said.

The project has also seen the development of equipment that is more efficient in harvesting the crops, such as a coffee bean harvester that has been adapted to harvest camellia, reducing the personnel needed to operate the machine from 40 to eight, Fang said.

Another machine developed is a drivable sesame harvester, which prevents workers from developing hip pains from bending over, Fang added.

The third accomplishment was assisting agricultural groups in developing their own brands, while the fourth was launching a collaboration with I-Mei Corp and Fwusow Industry to produce locally made edible oils, Fang said.

The fifth milestone was the establishment of the Taiwan Oil-seed Camellia Promotion Association to promote the planting of camellia instead of betel nuts, as camellia has deep roots and could help improve soil and water conservation, Fang.

Finally, the agency has established quality control measures to ensure food safety, Fang said.

The project is research-oriented and would not be cut short, Chen said, adding that the agency is seeking to expand the project by asking farmers to grow the two kinds of crops in fallow fields.

The agency is planning to pay a subsidy of NT$45,000 per hectare, Chen said, adding that participants of the “environmentally friendly farming” project would receive an additional NT$30,000 per year.

I-Mei Foods Co general manager Kao Chih-ming (高志明) told the news conference that he was glad to see the agency promoting food safety, but it could branch out to other products, such as skin care or healthcare products, which would yield higher returns.

Kao suggested further research on applications for the crops, adding that using squashed sesame as animal feed is wasteful and other substances could be extracted, such as sesamin, which is often used as a dietary fat-reduction supplement.

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