Last week, the Council of Agriculture said that it wants to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. To this end, it has established a “net-zero office” and announced three major carbon reduction strategies for agriculture: reducing emissions, increasing carbon sinks and promoting green energy.
The council made no secret that these initiatives are being introduced because agriculture is to be one of the first things affected by global warming and a food crisis is imminent.
At the same time, following the seizure of animal products contaminated with African swine fever that were brought into the country by a member of the public, the council, concerned that the virus might infect pigs on domestic farms, issued a directive that the use of kitchen scraps as pig feed would be prohibited for one month, and that hog farmers who relied on kitchen scraps would receive a subsidy to help cover the costs of switching to grain-based pig feed during the suspension.
In terms of dealing with an impending food crisis, the council has taken the correct action, but it is going to need to think more sustainably in the long term.
The main ingredients of pig feed used in Taiwan are corn, soy beans and fish powder, most of which are imported. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, not only has the price of ingredients risen overseas because of an unstable supply, but shipping costs have also risen, increasing the price of imported feed.
In the long term, the food shortage crisis and a food crisis are two sides of the same coin. If local farmers are prohibited from using kitchen scraps as a substitute for animal feed, and are obliged instead to use imported animal feed with its high carbon footprint, then total carbon emissions would rise, making it all the more difficult to achieve emissions targets.
Environmental departments have long provided kitchen scraps to hog farmers. Even though the farmers are helping deal with an environmental problem, this considerably reduces animal feed costs.
The council should not have just issued a directive prohibiting the use of kitchen scraps, it should also have devised a way to more substantially use the organic resources that this country has, to provide a safe, hygienic and pandemic-proof alternative.
Taiwan could take a leaf out of the playbooks of South Korea and Japan, which have for many years processed kitchen scraps by first removing excess moisture and then drying them at high temperatures to make a powdered animal feed additive that can be further processed, depending on whether it is to be used for mammals, birds or aquaculture, as a nutritional supplement.
Temperatures of more than 100°C are sufficient to destroy any germs, making the feed more hygienic and safe. Naturally, this kind of heat-treated feed would be more costly to produce than the “wet feed” currently used, but it would also be much safer, and the energy required for the process could be provided by biogas from the anaerobic digestion of organic waste, such as pig manure or urine.
The council would be congratulated even if it could reduce the problem of environmental pollution by dealing with kitchen scraps, but if it provided farmers with something that fed their livestock and reduced the purchase of chemical fertilizers, it would benefit the farmers and the government. Improving the food self-sufficiency rate is another important strategy when dealing with a food crisis.
With regards to the African swine fever crisis, the council needs to do more than simply offer subsidies.
Chen Wen-ching is an executive director of the Formosa Association of Resource Recycling.
Translated by Paul Cooper
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) chairman Mark Liu (劉德音) said in an interview with CNN on Sunday that a Chinese invasion of Taiwan would render the company’s plants inoperable, and that such a war would produce “no winners.” Not only would Taiwan’s economy be destroyed in a cross-strait conflict, but the impact “would go well beyond semiconductors, and would bring about the destruction of the world’s rules-based order and totally change the geopolitical landscape,” Liu said in the interview, according to the Central News Agency. Bloomberg columnist Hal Brands wrote on June 24: “A major war over Taiwan could create global economic
Amid a fervor in the global media, US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her congressional delegation made a high-profile visit to Taipei. President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) awarded a state honor to her at the Presidential Office. Evidently, the occasion took on the aspect of an inter-state relationship between the US and the Republic of China (ROC) on Taiwan, despite no mutual state recognition between the two. Beijing furiously condemned Pelosi’s visit in advance, with military drills in the waters surrounding coastal China to check the move. Pelosi is a well-known China hawk, and second in the line of succession to
A stark contrast in narratives about China’s future is emerging inside and outside of China. This is partly a function of the dramatic constriction in the flow of people and ideas into and out of China, owing to China’s COVID-19 quarantine requirements. There also are fewer foreign journalists in China to help the outside world make sense of developments. Those foreign journalists and diplomats who are in China often are limited in where they can travel and who they can meet. There also is tighter technological control over information inside China than at any point since the dawn of the
Since the US cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan and established full diplomatic relations with China in 1979, the highest-ranking US political figure who has visited Taiwan has been the speaker of the US House of Representatives. A quarter-century ago, Newt Gingrich, the then-speaker of the House, had a “whirlwind” visit to Taiwan. However, Gingrich’s congressional visit to Taiwan in April 1997 happened after his three-day trip to China. This time, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s itinerary covered Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan — the four growing and increasingly important allies and partners of the US in the Indo-Pacific region.