Agriculture sector must evolve and adapt: president

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

Sat, Sep 08, 2018 - Page 3

The nation’s agriculture sector should evolve toward sustainable development and adapt to the effects of climate change, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said yesterday.

Tsai made the remark at the inauguration of the Sixth National Agricultural Congress in Taipei, where many attendants called for more action to prevent diseases, such as African swine fever.

The two-day congress, to discuss how to develop safe, sustainable and progressive agriculture, was organized by the Council of Agriculture and is taking place at the Taipei International Convention Center.

Over the past two years, the government has promoted many reforms in the agriculture sector, such as passing the Organic Agriculture Promotion Act (有機農業促進法), amending the Organic Regulations for Irrigation and Water Conservancy Associations (農田水利會組織通則) and completing an inventory of farmland use across the nation, Tsai said in her speech.

Farmers in central and southern Taiwan last month suffered serious damage caused by heavy rain and flooding, and while the government has provided relief payments to victims to help restore their farmland, it needs to develop more innovative ideas regarding how agricultural production can coexist with the changing environment, she said.

As farmers are no longer covered by insurance systems when they reach the age of 65, the government is offering them a monthly allowance of NT$7,256, but it is insufficient for retired farmers to lead a stable life, Tsai said, expressing her hope that attendants would offer more suggestions about how to improve the lives of retired farmers.

It has been 15 years since the previous congress was convened in 2003, and prior to the meeting, the council held 18 meetings nationwide from April to June to collect opinions at the grassroots level, Council of Agriculture Minister Lin Tsung-hsien (林聰賢) said.

The congress is not merely political pageantry as some people have claimed, as the council hopes to create a road map for developing a sustainable agriculture sector by 2050, Lin said.

During a panel discussion about food safety, several experts took note of the shortage of officials dealing with animal affairs, advising the council to work with veterinary schools to beef up its disease prevention system, especially when an African swine fever outbreak in China is threatening the nation’s agriculture sector.

The panel discussions are to be wrapped up by Lin at the closing ceremony today, which is to be attended by Premier William Lai (賴清德), the council said.