If the Council of Agriculture (COA) fails to develop a sophisticated program for utlilizing fallow land, its well-intentioned policy could end up destroying Taiwan’s agricultural sector, opposition legislators said yesterday.
“The coucil’s policy to utilize fallow land across the country, which aims to rejuvenate the agricultural sector, is commendable, but is undermined by its lack of policy deliberation,” Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Pan Men-an (潘孟安) told a press conference.
Taiwan began to implement fallow agricultural policies after its accession to the WTO in 2002. Such policies led to a decline in the price of agricultural production due to increased agricultural imports, and did not lead to the usage of fallow land until recently, when the global food crisis occurred, he said.
However, the council is failing to control production and supply under its current policy, which leaves 60 percent of activated fallow land for local governments to decide which crops to grow and does not regulate the plantation of import substitution crops, such as flint corns, sugarcanes, soybeans and wheat, the lawmaker said.
The council’s planning and seasonal adjustments would be crucial for the farmers, otherwise the farmers could be exploited by middlemen or farmers in various regions could cultivate the same crops, which would result in lower prices, he added.
DPP Legislator Huang Wei-cher (黃偉哲) said the central government would be in a better position to monitor and control production and supply than local governments.