To make better use of farmland, the Council of Agriculture announced that it will make adjustments to the farmland revitalization project next year, including adding five types of import substitution crops for farmers to grow.
The council said there were 200,000 hectares of fallow land in the two crop seasons of 2011, but in an effort to secure domestic food security to cope with climate change, it initiated a project to adjust the farming system and revitalize farmland last year.
By encouraging farmers to grow import substitution crops, local specialty crops, organic crops or crops with export potential on fallow land, the council said 88,000 hectares of fallow land have been revitalized since the project took effect this year.
It said while there were at least 48,000 hectares of farmland that lay fallow for many seasons, which were listed as key areas for revitalization, about 31,000 hectares among them have been used for at least one season this year, a revitalization rate of 65 percent.
The area reported to have remained fallow for both seasons dropped from 200,000 hectares in 2011 to about 112,000 hectares this year, it added.
In addition to the import substitution crops, such as corn, soy bean or other grain crops that the council had encouraged farmers to grow, the Agriculture and Food Agency said it plans to add flaxseed, coix seed, mesona, camellia tea oil and stable commodity tea for farmers to choose from and grow next year.
Council Deputy Director-General Chen Chien-pin (陳建斌) said corn is being suggested as the first priority for growing an import substitution crop, but local agricultural research and extension stations will assist the farmers with technical advice for growing other crops if the land is not suitable for growing corn.
The agency said it will subsidize contract farmers who grow the five new commodity crops — NT$24,000 for each hectare of flaxseed, coix seed or mesona grown each season, NT$45,000 for each hectare of camellia tea oil or stable commodity tea grown each season for the first three years, and NT$45,000 for the whole year the fourth year. The subsidies are limited to four years.
Moreover, it said in order to improve the government’s public grain quality and food security, “ratooning rice” and “weedy rice” (rice grown from grains left on the soil after harvest) will not be purchased by the government as public grain starting next year.
Because the quality of rice grown in northern Taiwan is easily affected by the northeast monsoon and the quality of ratooning rice and weedy rice grown in central coastal areas is unstable, the agency said it will instruct the farmers to only grow rice in one season and grow other crops in the second season to cultivate soil fertility.