The government should double the research and development budget for plant breeding so that the nation’s farming sector can withstand the challenges brought by extreme weather, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tsai Pei-hui (蔡培慧) said yesterday.
The appeal came after farmers suffered significant financial losses during five typhoons this year — Nepartak in July, Meranti, Malakas and Megi last month and Aere this month.
Those financial losses could increase after the Central Weather Bureau said that it could issue a sea alert for Typhoon Haima this morning, which strengthened yesterday afternoon and could bring significant rainfall to the east coast.
Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times
“Whenever we talk about the impact of the extreme weather on agriculture, we often talk about the necessity of establishing an insurance system,” Tsai said. “However, insurance should be used to compensate farmers’ losses in the short term. The fundamental solution is to tackle the challenges at source, which begins with the budget for plant breeding.”
Tsai said a government project should focus on breeding new grains and other crops that are able to survive when the nation is hit by severe drought, excessive rainfall or abnormally low temperatures. The budget used to fund the project should be twice as much as it is now, she said.
Tsai invited three farmers from Yunlin County and Kaohsiung, who had lost nearly all of their crops when Meranti and Malakas hit the nation in the middle of the last month, to talk about their plight at a news conference in Taipei.
They highlighted the urgency of having sufficient germplasm for plant breeding, as it is key to ensure that farming can be restarted quickly after natural disasters and produce reliable crops for exports.
“Plant breeding is like making the horse stance, the basic move you have to master when you learn kung fu,” Huang Chi-yao (黃祈堯) said.
Warren Kuo (郭華仁) of National Taiwan University’s Department of Agronomy suggested a change in crop-planting schedule in addition to efforts to breed new grains.
Farmers might be able to grow plants in winter that have previously been grown in other seasons, he said.
The functions of the Council of Agriculture’s research stations should also be reformed, Kuo said.
“They should focus on researching and developing new crop varieties, rather than taking foreign germplasm from private laboratories for plant breeding,” he said. “These research stations are not short of plant-breeding specialists, but they are short of professional laboratory technicians. They cannot keep hiring contractors to do the work of technicians or the experience will not be passed on,” he said.
Council of Agriculture Deputy Minister Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) said that the budget allocated for plant breeding decreased from about NT$186 million (US$5.87 million) in 2014 to about NT$150 million this year.
Funding for breeding new grain has declined from NT$25 million in 2014 to NT$17 million this year.
He promised to raise the budget to the level in 2014, adding that it could exceed NT$186 million after a review of the projects to be undertaken at research stations next year.
PACIFIC OCEAN: Defense experts have warned that the ‘Shandong,’ China’s second largest aircraft carrier, poses a serious threat to eastern Taiwan’s defenses The drills conducted by the Chinese aircraft carrier Shandong in the Western Pacific last week were more aimed at showcasing China’s military capabilities to the US rather than toward Taiwan, a Taiwanese defense expert said yesterday. Lin Yin-yu (林穎佑), an assistant professor at Tamkang University’s Graduate Institute of International Affairs and Strategic Studies, said the drills which involved dozens of warplanes sought to test China’s anti-access and area denial capabilities should the US and its allies attempt to interfere in a cross-strait conflict. Lin said that the latest Chinese drills coincided with a joint maritime exercise conducted by the US, South Korea
Thousands of bottles of Sriracha have been returned or destroyed after the discovery of excessive sulfur dioxide, a bleaching agent, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced on Tuesday. About 12,600 bottles totaling 9,991.8kg of the hot sauce imported from the US by Emporium Corp (河洛企業) were flagged at the border for containing illegal levels of sulfur dioxide, the FDA said in its regular border inspection announcement. Inspectors discovered 0.5g per kilogram of the common bleaching agent and preservative, higher than the 0.03g permitted, it said. As it is the first time within six months the product has been flagged, Sriracha products from
Two people were killed and another nine injured yesterday after being stung by hornets while hiking in New Taipei City’s Rueifang District (瑞芳), with officials warning against wearing perfume or straying from trails during the autumn to avoid the potentially deadly creatures. Seven of the hikers only sustained minor injuries after being stung along the Bafenliao Hiking Trail (八分寮) and made their way down the mountain with a guide, the New Taipei City Fire Department said. Four of them — all male — sustained more serious injuries and were assisted when leaving the mountain, the department said. Two of them, a man surnamed
CHANGES: While NCCU opened the nation’s first co-ed dorm in Mucha, a recent survey showed that Taiwanese are in favor of abolishing gender segregation at high schools National Chengchi University (NCCU) has opened a co-ed dormitory, a first in Taiwan among state-funded Taiwan universities. The 22 duplexes are at the renovated “Huanan New Village,” in Taipei City’s Mucha (木柵) area, near the NCCU campus, a school official said yesterday. Twenty-two out of 37 group applications were selected in a lottery draw to select who would be chosen to live in the units, which can either be shared by up to eight students if the unit has four bedrooms, or up to 10 students if it is a five-bedroom unit, officials said. Completed in 1964 for campus staff housing,