The Council of Agriculture (COA) yesterday said it would import 5 million eggs from Australia to replace domestic eggs in the production of processed food to ensure domestic eggs can satisfy demand in Taiwan.
COA Minister Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) told a news conference that a cold front and chickens’ molting cycles caused domestic egg production to fall to 22.4 million from 22.6 million last week, adding that there is a daily deficiency of 500,000 to 800,000 eggs per day.
However, weekly egg production was up from 21.4 million last year, Chen said.
Photo: Wang Yi-sung, Taipei Times
Retailers in northern Taiwan are more affected by the shortage than their peers in other regions, Chen said.
The imports from Australia would be part of a short-term program and only be used for processed foods to ensure that more domestically produced eggs are available to Taiwanese, Chen said.
The program would also help address fluctuating egg prices, as the additional costs would be covered by the council’s “agricultural loss fund.”
The budget needed for the project is uncertain, he added.
If domestic production rebounds to 24 million eggs per week, it would satisfy demand, he said.
Chen said that about 80 percent of all egg-laying chickens on egg farms are kept in traditional, open-air coops, making production susceptible to inclement weather.
The council is working on a subsidy to help farmers with open-air coops to build roofed coops or install systems to regulate the temperature, he said.
Animal Husbandry Division Director Chang Ching-wei (張經緯) said that subsidies would first be offered to farms keeping 30,000 or fewer chickens and cover 50 percent of costs for updating their coops.
The subsidies would be capped at NT$4.5 million (US$148,002) for the smaller farms, he said, adding that subsidies for farms with up to 80,000 chickens would be capped at NT$20 million.
The council estimates that 180 farms would benefit from the upgrade program, Chang said, adding that he hopes the upgrades would serve as a model for success and encourage farms that are not eligible for the subsidy to follow suit and upgrade their chicken coops.
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