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Building A Modern Golden Agricultural Corridor
The “Building Golden Agricultural Corridor” is an integrated agricultural action plan launched by the Council of Agriculture (COA). The project aims at southern Changhua County and Yunlin County’s high-speed railway track, covering the band area of 1.5 kilometers on both right and left sides of the track. The corridor passes through nine townships, including Pitou, Zhutang, Sijhou, Erlun, Hsiluo, Tuku, Huwei, Yuanzhang and Beigang.
All over Taiwan, Yunlin County and Changhua County suffer the most serious land subsidence. To make sustainable use of water resources and help alleviate subsidence of the two counties, the COA takes Changhua’s and Yunlin’s agricultural environments and existing policies into consideration, planning an eight-year implemented in the corridor along the high-speed rail.
The project employs three new strategies (new technology, new farmer and new industry) to help the agricultural sector of golden corridor area become more water-saving and energy-saving. Moreover, it redesigns the industrial value chain of new agricultural sector, systematically cultivates farmers of new-generation, and provides tailor-made counseling strategies. These approaches not only increase farmers’ income but also take into account the sustainable and harmonious development of land and water at the same time.
Objectives and results of the project:
1. Develop low water-consuming agriculture: By promoting water-saving farming and afforestation, the COA assists farmers to establish the high-efficiency irrigation system and water recycling system as a way to reduce the use of groundwater and improve the utilization efficiency of water resources. Then it helps the 2,000-hectare single-season paddy fields inside the corridor area to grow low water-consuming and drought-resistant corps. After all works are completed, it is estimated to reduce the cumulative use of groundwater up to 24 million tons.
2. Increase farmers’ income: By promoting contract farming and drought-resistant crops, the COA encourages farmers to focus on enhancing crop quality, develop industrial value chain, enlarge economies of scale, and improve farmers' working efficiency to lower costs. In the future, it will introduce energy-saving technology and green recreational industry to enhance their competitiveness.
3. Improve food self-sufficiency rate: To promote the growth of low water-consuming crops that substitute imports, such as corn, sorghum, and the local crops can make the national goal of 40% food self-sufficiency rate to be achieved more rapidly.
4. Encourage diversified industrial developments: In addition to promoting refined traditional agricultural industry with multiple marketing promotions, the COA develops agricultural tourism, encourages the private sector to invest, and establishes an agricultural value chain that integrates water-saving, energy-saving and cross-border features. It will boost the industrial diversified developments and continue agricultural innovations in Taiwan.
Three new strategies of golden corridor:
1. New technology
To reduce the use of groundwater: the COA encourages farmers to grow drought-resistant corps rather than paddy. In addition, the most important step is to introduce technology into traditional agriculture. For instance, some information and communication tools, such as satellite, aerial photo, geographic information and cloud computing, will be used to control the actual planting and irrigation situation. With high-performance and precise irrigation systems, it can improve the efficiency of agricultural water usage and achieve the goal of saving water. COA’s Agricultural Research Institute and Department of Science and Technology plan to use solar photovoltaic and LED industries to set up plant factories that grow high value-added crops and increase farmers’ income. Also, they plan to build new water-saving barns to achieve the goal of saving water and energy.
2. New farmer
The most important highlight in rural areas is “people.” As Taiwan’s farming population is aging and labor force in rural areas is decreasing, the adaption of modern agricultural technology becomes more difficult. Therefore, the Golden Agricultural Corridor Project specially focuses on the training of “new farmers.” The key is to attract young people going back to rural areas due to the income increase and bright future agricultural development. Therefore, the COA offers concrete measures to assist farmers in three aspects of management knowledge, business scale and capital. For instance, it integrates resources of agricultural research, education and promotion for farmers to take advantage of a variety of ICT (information and communication technology) devices. They flexibly can utilize agricultural cloud computing resources to have a better command of agriculture-related knowledge and market information, by which they can formulate production plans and operate production and marketing development better. In addition, the “Small Landlords and Big Tenants” policy, which has been executed for years, also successfully helps young farmers obtain fallow fields and expand the business scale to increase revenues through the government’s encouraging incentives measures.
3. New industry
Nowadays people pay much attention to recreation, so agricultural tourism is becoming very popular. The COA organizes theme agricultural tours within the golden corridor area, along with marketing of local specialty souvenirs. It is expected to create a new organic, healthy and recreational look for rural areas, as well as to boost local tourism sector. Within the golden corridor area, moreover, the COA integrates efficient farmers’ groups to become characteristic industrial business centers, establishing satellite farms by means of value-added activities and contract farming. In standardized production and sale specifications, the corridor forms a close and stable supply chain which in turn creating the advantage of economies of scale for this area’s agricultural industry and farmers.