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|Agriculture in Taiwan|
|Written by Administrator|
|Thursday, 20 January 2011 07:51|
Taiwan is located in the subtropics. Mountains and rugged hills cover two-thirds of the island, so only about 830,000 hectares of land are suitable for agriculture. The average farm covers 1.1. hectares, thus the agricultural sector is largely composed of small family farms. However, Taiwan is working to develop its agriculture by introducing advances technologies and modern equipment. Taiwanese agricultural products are very diverse, the output is very high. The agricultural sector, moreover, is precisely what laid the solid foundation for the soaring economic growth that Taiwan has enjoyed in recent decades.
Annual agricultural output in Taiwan is about US$11.8 billion, or 1.5% of GDP. Farm crops account for 43.36% of this figure, followed by fisheries at 24.40%, livestock at 32.11%, and forestry at 0.13%. About 540,000 persons are employed in agriculture, and the average annual income per agricultural household is US$28,000. Agriculture accounts for 1.5% of Taiwan’s GDP, but its share of the economy rises to 11% if we include agriculture-related secondary and tertiary industries, such as food processing and leisure. Agriculture plays and extremely important role in providing food, supporting rural development, and contributing to environmental conservation.
Current State of Agriculture in Taiwan
Agricultural development in Taiwan has taken a unique path. In the early years, the government carried out land reform to provide “land to the tiller”, and then made policy adjustments as agriculture progressed, seeking at first to spur greater productivity, and then to develop exports of both raw and processed agricultural goods. These developments in turn ushered in and era of rapid economic growth. Taiwan’s success in the development of small-scale agriculture has become a model for developing economics the world over. The core principles of “healthfulness, efficiency, and sustainability” form the backbone of the COA (Council of Agriculture)’s agricultural policies.
Developing Scientific Agriculture; Building Quality Agricultural Industry
Innovation is what drives agricultural progress in Taiwan. In working for technological advances, the key goals Taiwan’s government have set are to breed superior plant and animal varieties, establish high-volume production, develop long-distance storage and transport, and rigorously carry out quality and safety inspections. Achievements in the area of scientific and technological research since 2002 include more than US$5 million in technology transfer income, 342 technology transfers, 100 plant variety rights, 282 patents, and 32 trademarks.
Taiwan is home to many of the world’s most advanced agricultural technologies. Taiwan is a leader inthe field of Phalaenopsis orchids, for example, and have become a major exporter for these beautiful flowers thanks to this country’s competitive advantages in such areas as breeding, seedling production, greenhouse, environmental control, and long-distance maritime transport. The COA have also developed more colorful varieties of ornamental fish. The animal cloning techniques are on a par with those of the most advanced nations, and both cows and goats have now been cloned in Taiwan. Besides that, The COA have also established a new online service that allows farmers to consult with the experts on agricultural problems via the internet. In order to get research breakthroughs to the market and into production processes, the COA has teamed up with domestic research institutions to establish 10 new research teams. The COA are encouraging agribusiness to establish a presence in our agricultural science and technology parks, where they can build up Taiwan as global hotbed of flower production, a worldwide center for tropical fruits, and a supplier of breeder livestock and plant seedlings to the entire East Asian region. Leading-edge technology is the force that will bring about the adoption of a new and more sophisticated business model for Taiwan’s agricultural sector. Over 30 new varieties of rice and many valuable horticultural products have been developed in Taiwan in recent years, and we have established special vegetable, fruit, and flower zones, as well as top-flight agricultural product supply chains, to get these goods to customers.
Building Responsible Agriculture; Maintaining Sustainable Environment
The COA is working to build a fully developed system for ensuring safe agricultural practices, and to establish Taiwan as “an island of toxin-free agriculture”. To ensure food safety and safe working environments, the COA has accelerated efforts to guarantee the supply of safe, high-quality products. COA continue to promote the “Certified Agricultural Standard (CAS)” and “Good Agricultural Practice (GAP)” certification marks, as well as for organic goods. The agricultural traceability system is another focus of considerable attention; our GAP certification marks and food origin tags are traceable, which makes it possible to identify the maker of a particular product. The COA have established special organic farming zones and expanded organic production in a step-by-step campaign to build an all-inclusive safety regime covering every step from production to sales.
The COA are working to improve domestic inspection and reporting systems, and encourage farmers to actively engage in disease prevention to protect their own interests. Taiwan is completely free of major diseases and pests. The COA are also very serious about decreasing the dependence on agricultural chemicals. Toward that end, the COA pay close attention to the regulation of agricultural chemicals and animal-use drugs, promote integrated regulation of diseases and pests, and encourage the application of bio-prevention methods.
Taiwan is a semi-tropical island with plentiful sunlight, anundant rainfall, and a multifaceted terrain that has given rise to a complex and diverse ecology. It has also nurtured a huge and widely varied population of wild animal and plant life as well as biogenetic resources. The island has some 48,000 named living species, roughly 12,000 of which are endemic to Taiwan. Forests cover 2.1 million hectares, or nearly 60% of Taiwan, and 430,000 hectares of land have set aside as nature preserves. Taiwan’s forests nurture abundant plant and animal life, anchor the soil, and play an indispensable role in the water cycle. The COA have launched a project to 60,000 hectares of lowland forest over the course of eight years, and plans are in the works to build three 1,000-hectare large lowland forest recreation areas.
The use and management of water resources is a key part of agricultural production. Taiwan has a highly developed irrigation system, with over 70,000 kilometers of ditches and canals. In addition, a farm plot consolidation initiative has created over 390,000 hectares of consolidated farm districts with 35,000 kilometers of agrcultural roads to facilitates transport and mechanization. The COA is working actively to establish a modern paddy field irrigation and drainage system, and promoting water-saving irrigation techniques. We are also working to maintain paddy field environmental quality and prevent pollution of irrigation water. These efforts are also coordinated with other related programs, including hillside preservation progras, to make sustainable use of our land and water resources.
Strengthening International Cooperation; Expanding Agricultural Products Export
Taiwan’s biggest agricultural imports are corn, soybeans, and cotton, which come mainly from the United States and Australia. Principal exports include flowers and tuna, for which the primary markets are Japan, mainland China, and Hong Kong. The COA is taking active steps to enhance the international brand image of Taiwan’s agricultural exports, by taking part, for example, in international food expositions and carrying out advertising campaigns. The COA are working especially hard to develop marketing channels for high-end agricultural products in key markets such as Japan, mainland China, Hong Kong, and the United States. Total agricultural exports in 2008 came to US$3.85 billion.
Taiwan participates in activities organized by the WTO, APEC, AARDO, ICCAT, and other important international bodies, and is working to establish bilateral cooperation in the areas of farming and fishing with nations in North America, Europe, and Southeast Asia. The COA have teams of agricultural and fishing experts stationed in 28 different nations, and are working in concert with international bodies such as the AVRDC and FFTC to help developing nations achieve agricultural development and expand their food supply.
Business and trade relations accross the Taiwan Strait are on the upswing, and direct sea and air travel is now possible. To take advantage of these favorable developments, the COA is taking steps on the mainland to ensure that Taiwan’s agricultural goods have stable distribution channels and enjoy a strong reputation as safe and healthy products. The COA are also working to set up mechanisms for cross-strait cooperation and consultation.
Implementing Land Reform; Revitalizing Rural Villages
Agriculture in Taiwan is characterized by small landholdings. To deal with the weak competitiveness of Taiwan’s small-scale farming operations, the COA has been working to implement a third-phase land reform through its “Small Landlords and Big Tenant-Farmers Program”, and is also seeking to revitalize rural communities through its “Rural Regeneation Program”.
Under the “Small Landlords and Big Tenant-Farmers Program”, old farmers and other landowners with no intention of farming their land are encouraged to rent it out an long-term leases to younger people and professional farmers so that farms can start to be operated like corporations. The government extends interest-free loans to big tenants to finance their payment of a single-multi year lease, then provides them guidance on production and marketing. The idea is to increase the size of farms and restructure the agricultural sector. In addition, the COA also intend to set up a new farm land management mechanism, under the land will be zoned and its management assigned to the appropriate level of government. Special agricultural zones will also be expanded to make Taiwan’s agricultural sector more competitive.
The COA is pressing forward under the “Rural Regeneration Program” to revitalize our rural communities. The Program emphasizes comprehensive planning while taking a bottom-up approach to encourage participation by residents in the rebuilding of local communities. We aim to build wealthy and attractive rural communities by maintaining a dual focus on the needs of both production and everyday living. There are about 4,000 farming and fishing villages in Taiwan, and we intend to train a corps of community development activists who will work to improve conditions for the benefit of our 600,000 rural households.
The COA is helping traditional farmers switch to agro-tourism, which can be done quite successfully by tapping into the unique aspects of local culture and giving visitors a chance to learn about the ecology. As of the end of 2008, 63 locales have been designated as agro-tourism zones. The COA have established a network of 14 national hiking trails amd 56 area hiking trails linking 18 different national forest recreational areas and other interesting destinations.
Strengthening Farmers’ Organizations; Improving Farmers’ Welfare
Taiwan’s 302 farmers’ associations, 40 fishermen’s associations, and 17 irrigation associations procide 2.3 million farmers and fishermen with extension services. The supply of production materials, product transport, farmer health insurance, lending, and irrigation and drainage are just a few examples of the services provided. The COA is actively helping farmers’ and fishermen’s groups to strengthen their organizations, improve business practices, hold products fairs, and improve service quality. In order to build a fully developed and safe agricultural finance system, the COA is working via the Agricultural Bank of Taiwan to provide guidance to the nation’s farmers’ and fishermen’s credit departments, which number almost 300 in total. The COA need a sound system of supervision an auditing for these organizations, and we will have one. The COA are also expanding our policy-based agricultural lending, supplying low-interest capital that has already benefited some 190,000 households.
Caring for childrean and the elderly in farming and fishing households is another major focus of concern. To this end, each year the COA disburses senior farmer allowances to about 700,000 people, and awards approximately 270,000 scholarships. Every elderly farmers get NT$6000 as a monthly living allowances.
To enhance production technologies and improve rural living standards, the COA runs professional training courses, provides agricultural jobs, prepares online teaching materials, and has set up a learning website to ensure access to wider range of learning opportunities. In addition, the COA also draw upon the resources of research and extensions stations, farmers’ associations, and the agricultural schools of our colleges and universities to provide agricultural extension education and cooperative research. [IC3T/BP; COA]
|Last Updated on Monday, 08 August 2011 08:33|