Thu, May 30, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Organic farming promotion act takes effect

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

Tainan organic farmer Wu Lee-chuan inspects plants on March 6.

Photo: Chiu Hao-tang, Taipei Times

Countries planning to sell organic produce to Taiwan would have to sign equivalence agreements with the nation within one year after the Organic Agriculture Promotion Act (有機農業促進法) takes effect today, Council of Agriculture Minister Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) said yesterday, hailing the act’s implementation as a step forward in agricultural transformation.

The act, which was promulgated on May 30 last year for implementation a year after, aims to protect domestic organic farmers, Chen said.

The agreements mean both sides mutually recognize the other’s organic produce.

At present, 22 countries are allowed to sell organic produce to Taiwan — 16 EU nations, the UK (listed as non-EU), New Zealand, Australia, the US, Canada and Chile.

However, their qualification would be annulled if they do not sign new equivalence agreements with Taiwan within one year, Agricultural and Food Agency Deputy Director-General Juang Lao-dar (莊老達) said.

The agency’s negotiations with New Zealand, Australia, Japan and India have entered the final stage after comparing bilateral regulatory systems, he said, with the agreements expected to be signed by July.

Its negotiations with the US, the EU, Canada and Paraguay are also under way, he said.

Countries touting organic produce share the idea of promoting a sustainable environment and are looking to enlarge their market base, Juang added.

Chen also announced plans to increase organic or eco-friendly farming by offering more incentives.

Apart from providing subsidies of NT$30,000 to NT$80,000 per hectare for farmers switching to organic or eco-friendly farming, the council would subsidize their cost of purchasing equipment and fertilizers, installing greenhouses and applying for organic certificates, he said.

As of the end of last month, a total of 12,194 hectares — or nearly 1.5 percent of the nation’s total farmed areas — were used for organic or eco-friendly farming, with the area expected to rise to 15,000 hectares in a year’s time, he said.

The act also clarifies the attribution of responsibility for crop pollution.

Farmers whose crops are confirmed to have been contaminated by pollution from neighboring fields would not be punished, but their polluted crops would be banned from being sold as “organic,” the council said.

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