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Taiwan: beautiful island of fruit, flowers and farms
Council of Agriculture Minister Chen Wu-hsiung is seen promoting Taiwan's pomelos during a press conference on Sept. 2.
COA Minister Chen Wu-hsiung lays out his plans for improving agricultural industries
Promoting Taiwan's high-quality agricultural products both in the local and international markets is the key to upgrading the Taiwan agricultural industry's competitiveness, said Council of Agriculture Minister Chen Wu-hsiung.
"To protect the health of consumers, my council has made efforts to ensure all rice, vegetables, fish and livestock products in Taiwan are in compliance with Certified Agricultural Standards," said Chen.
Therefore, all of Taiwan's agricultural products are toxin-free, quality-guaranteed and deserve nationwide or even worldwide promotion, Chen said.
Now, in the middle of the storm over melamine-tainted food and dairy products from China, is the best time to promote Taiwan's agricultural products both locally and around the world.
Tainted Chinese products have scared away many local consumers and, instead of buying cheaper Chinese agricultural products, many Taiwanese consumers are now turning towards local foods.
To take the rare chance to promote local foods, the COA has held several promotional activities around the island, and has invited local agricultural products and fruit dealers to participate in these events.
A promotional fair entitled "Made in Taiwan: the best products" was held on Oct. 25 and 26 in the Sungshan Tobacco Factory located in downtown Taipei, featuring Taiwan's CAS-labeled, toxic-free fruits, vegetables, as well as flowers and wines.
Aside from boosting local agricultural businesses within the nation, the COA has also worked very hard to promote Taiwan's fine products on the other side of the Taiwan Strait and around the world.
The COA Minister - who was well-known for his key role in pushing Taiwan's agricultural products into the Chinese market even before the KMT returned to power - repeatedly pledged that he would continue to introduce Taiwanese products to the Mainland after he assumed the head of the COA in May.
"Taiwan's agricultural products, besides being sold in Japan, the United States, and Southeast Asia, will also be marketed in China," Chen said. "The council will actively promote Taiwan's products on the international market, and China's market will be one of the most important markets for Taiwan in the future."
To help accomplish the mission, the council has invited local fruit export dealers to participate at the International Food Fair that will be held in Shanghai later this month.
Taiwan's participation at the fair will greatly boost the popularity of Taiwan's fruits in China, he said.
Prior to the November fair, the council invited China's chain and large-scale dealers to take part at the Taipei International Food Show, staged in June, to boost the popularity of the nation's produce.
The COA also took the opportunity of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games in August to hold promotional events to attract consumers to buy Taiwan's fruits.
'World-class flower island'
The beautiful island of Taiwan offers more than just its delicious fruits, the island also produces top-quality flowers.
The COA has long tried to boost Taiwan's flower industry by holding promotional events nationwide.
A promotional activity which saw flowers sold in front of the Taipei City Government was staged on June 28 to encourage people to spend more money on flowers and help local flower producers to make a living.
The event also helped to push the local industry forward to the day when it will fulfill Minister Chen's vision of ultimately turning Taiwan into a "world-class flower island."
While addressing the crowd at the opening ceremony of the promotional event in Taipei, Chen stated that flower industry is the most beautiful industry in Taiwan.
"Flowers can beautify one's life and family. With flowers or potted plants as decorations in one's office and in one's room, a space will immediately become more comfortable and delightful," said Chen.
"Floral decorations can further boost one's working efficiency," he added.
Chen, who is a poet and has published two books of poems, read one of his latest creations "A flower on the dining table" during his address to show how much he loves flowers.
The poem describes a small pot of flowers Chen saw on the dining table in his friend's house. The flower decoration, added together with the delicious dishes prepared by his friend's wife, helped Chen to enjoy one of the most memorable days of his life in his friend's house.
Chen called on everyone to bring flowers into their lives, putting flowers on dining tables or in the garden. In this way, people will learn to appreciate the beauty of flowers.
"Taiwan consumers now spend just a little over NT$100 per year on flowers," said Chen, "compared with NT$700 for a European or an American and NT$1,200 for a Japanese consumer, the domestic flower market still has lots of potential for growth."
To better promote Taiwan's flower industry and ultimately push it onto the world stage, the COA has planned to hold a "National flower arts contest" at the end of this year, Chen said.
The participants of the competition will be chosen from local communities; and the holding of the event can enhance the flower industry and promote rural area rejuvenation, and speed up the pace of building Taiwan into the most beautiful world-class flower island, Chen said.
Another measure the COA has taken to upgrade the Taiwan agricultural industry's competitiveness is to combine tourism with the nation's agricultural business to present the so-called "agricultural tourism."
Chen said that the agricultural tourism has become a new trend. The COA, therefore, is actively developing overseas travel markets to create more business opportunities for Taiwan's agricultural tourism.
Taiwan's agricultural tourism, which uses rural culture, agricultural production, natural environments and friendly farmers as selling points, will definitely attract more local and foreign visitors to come, Chen said.
In order to allow people to better understand Taiwan's agricultural tourism and find out what places on the island they can visit, the council has put together one of the biggest pavilions among all the exhibitors in this year's International Travel Fair to promote the local leisure farming industry.
The 46 booths sponsored by the COA are divided into three areas to introduce Taiwan's leisure farms, famous agricultural products, and wine villages.
At its section entitled "Taiwan Leisure Farms," the COA has selected ten leisure farms, four agriculture-related organizations or leisure parks, eight wine villages and 18 national forest recreation areas run by COA's Forest Bureau to introduce their holiday packages to ITF visitors. All the above measures taken by the COA are meant to elevate the Taiwan agricultural industry's competitiveness and to further alleviate the current difficulties faced by local farmers and fishermen by increasing their efficiency and profits and safeguarding their welfare.