Wed, Mar 14, 2018 - Page 3 News List

COA to subsidize coolers to stabilize vegetable prices

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

The Council of Agriculture will subsidize installation of vacuum cooling devices to help prevent vegetable prices from being affected by market closures, council Deputy Minister Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) said yesterday.

The coolers should help farmers’ groups extend the shelf life of their vegetable harvests.

Vegetable prices dropped drastically nationwide starting late last month after Taipei’s two fruit and vegetable wholesale markets were closed for 11 days between Feb. 16 and Wednesday last week.

Vegetables sold at the two markets, totaling 485,570 tonnes last year, make up about one-third of the nation’s total amount.

The council and the Taipei City Government early this month began arguing after members of the public asked who should be blamed for the extended closures, highlighting a power struggle between Taipei Agricultural Products Marketing Co general manager Wu Yin-ning (吳音寧), who was recommended by the council, and city officials.

The council on Monday last week introduced a series of measures to boost vegetable sales and succeeded in keeping vegetable prices above NT$18 per kilogram when the two markets reopened on Thursday last week after a three-day closure.

Local vegetable storage systems have a lot of room for improvement and the council will subsidize the installation of vacuum cooling devices, which are common in Japan’s markets, Chen said.

Wu should also improve her communication with the marketing company staff, Chen said, adding that people’s working manners can vary.

The council has been encouraging agricultural associations, cooperatives and production groups to install coolers by covering half of their cost, Agriculture and Food Agency Deputy Director-General Su Mao-shiang (蘇茂祥) said separately, adding these groups can also seek subsidies from local governments.

Such devices are not common enough, although they have proven helpful during the market closures, and the council would work harder to persuade more groups to install them, especially in Yunlin County, Su said.

In a self-assessment released on Friday last week, the council said it should have persuaded the Taipei City Government to reduce the number of market closure days, and it failed to recognize the volume of vegetables grown in warmer weather.

The council would work to decentralize vegetable trading by establishing diversified marketing channels and it would advise local governments not to close wholesale markets for three consecutive days, it said in the report.

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