Wed, Feb 27, 2019 - Page 2 News List

COA ready to help fruit, tea farmers after dry winter

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

Less rainfall and a warmer winter have led to a drought in parts of central and southern Taiwan, the Council of Agriculture (COA) said yesterday, as it announced that an emergency task force has been formed and that it would help fruit and tea farmers hurt by the unseasonable weather.

Since November last year, the amount of rainfall in central and southern Taiwan has been drastically less than previous years, with Taichung receiving just 18 percent of its rainfall for the period, while Tainan has received only 2 percent, COA Chief Secretary Chang Chih-sheng (張致盛) told a news conference in Taipei.

Farmers growing pears, plums, peaches, loquats, lychees and tea have been the hardest hit, he said.

About 2,200 hectares of pear production in Miaoli and Taichung and up to 7,800 hectares of lychee production from Taichung southwards have been affected, council data showed.

The drought emergency task force held its first meeting yesterday, Chang said.

As only half of the nation’s agricultural areas have adequate irrigation systems, fruit farmers — especially hillside farms that lack irrigation facilities — are advised to keep certain amounts of weeds in the ground to protect their fields from drying out, the council said.

Pear, plum, peach, loquat, lychee and tea farmers whose crops have been affected could receive relief funds of between NT$50,000 and NT$90,000 per hectare, after their losses are confirmed by the council, Chang said.

Subsidies are available for farmers who want to install efficient irrigation systems, covering 49 percent of the total cost or up to NT$250,000 per hectare, he said.

Water supplies for rice fields are sufficient after the council and the Water Resources Agency secured supply for the seedling-planting period, he said.

WeatherRisk Co weather director Chia Hsin-hsing (賈新興) told the news conference that rainfall is predicted to increase a little in April, but there is no reason to be optimistic about water supplies before the arrival of the plum rain season in three months’ time.

Due to climate change, drier winters and springs might become more common, Chia said.

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