Sat, May 25, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Rice growers to receive aid after heavy rain

By Su Fu-nan and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

The Council of Agriculture is to pay subsidies to Kaohsiung rice growers whose crops were damaged by Monday’s heavy rains.

The rains soaked the crops before they could be harvested, resulting in serious financial losses, Council of Agriculture Minister Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) told a news conference in Kaohsiung on Tuesday.

Using drones, the council estimated that flooding had occurred in about 380 hectares of paddies in the municipality’s Meinong (美濃), Cishan (旗山) and Shanlin (杉林) districts, he said.

The council would give growers NT$18,000 for each flooded hectare, while those belonging to the rice farmers’ insurance scheme would receive double that, Chen said.

Growers would not be required to submit damage claims to the township office, because the drones, which are being used for the first time, would be tasked with documenting the damage over the next two days, he said.

The drones are capable of surveying 70 hectares in 15 minutes, which would take inspectors an entire day using conventional methods, he said, adding that faster inspections would ensure that damage is properly documented before growers need to replant their fields.

Meanwhile, the National Honey Quality Evaluation contest was suspended after devastating production shortfalls hit beekeepers across the nation.

The Taiwan Beekeeping Association on Monday said it was canceling the event for the first time in five decades, because honey production had fallen by as much as 80 percent nationally this year.

“There is simply not enough domestically produced honey to hold a contest with,” association president Cheng Chin-kuan (鄭金崑) said. “This is the most severe shortage we have seen in the past 60 or 70 years.”

The reduction in yield was likely the result of abnormally hot and dry weather and improper use of agricultural chemicals that led to a low flowering rate for nectar-supplying lychees and longans, he said.

In lieu of the contest, the association plans to hold a series of educational events in October on sustainable agriculture, the science of beekeeping and honey industry certificates, he said.

“The association will have to work toward creating a good habitat for honey bees, which means protecting the environment,” he added.

Additional reporting by Hsieh Chieh-yu

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