Wed, Oct 04, 2017 - Page 4 News List

Tobacco farming dwindles

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

Tobacco farmers on Monday demonstrate outside the Legislative Yuan in Taipei with posters and banners calling on Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor Corp to continue buying domestic tobacco.

Photo: CNA

About 84 percent of Taiwan’s tobacco farmers have stopped growing the crop, the Council of Agriculture said on Friday, adding that farmers can apply for subsidies until the end of the year, when the Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor Corp (TTLC) is to stop purchasing domestic tobacco.

Prior to 2002, tobacco and alcohol sales were government-controlled, but the system was abolished with the formation of TTLC.

After Taiwan became a WTO member in 2002, the firm’s tobacco purchases have gradually shifted to overseas brands, which greatly affected domestic tobacco farming, Agriculture and Food Agency Secretary-General Weng Chen-hsin (翁震炘) said.

In 2013, the council started to help tobacco farmers transition to other crops with limited success, he said.

In February, the council started paying farmers who stopped growing tobacco NT$600,000 per hectare.

Those who accepted the payment signed an affidavit saying that they would no longer grow or sell tobacco, the council said, adding that breaches of the agreement would result in the payment having to be returned to the council.

Farmers willing to grow other produce can also receive subsidies on seeds, equipment and fertilizers, the council said.

Among the registered 1,530 tobacco farmers, 1,250 have applied for the one-off payment, while 49 have applied to grow other crops, Weng said.

The council has paid for about 524 hectares of tobacco farms, Weng added.

According to the Tobacco Hazards Prevention Act (菸害防制法), 1 percent of the nation’s cigarette tax revenue is used to subsidize tobacco farmers, he added.

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