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Business Report of Council of Agriculture (COA) Minister Chi-Hung Tsao
Chairman, members of the Legislative Yuan
Today, I am honored to have this opportunity to present COA’s business report to your esteemed Economics Committee. I have persistently dedicated myself to agriculture development and environmental conservation throughout different phases of my carrier life. What remains unchanged is my passion and care for Taiwan’s agriculture, farmers, and lands, as do all the legislators here. Again I would like to extend my utmost appreciation for your support and expectation to the industry. I implore each member to continue offering advice and guidance to various agricultural policies.
Agriculture is part of a nation’s economy which is highly relevant to food supply and safety, environmental conservation, and preservation of agricultural culture. Furthermore, it closely connects to our daily life and plays a multifunctional role.
Following the future key policy guidelines including the transformation of economic structure unveiled by President Tsai, the government will pursue a new economic model for sustainable development based on the core values of innovation, employment, and equitable distribution. In addition, it will reinforce Taiwan’s global and regional connection, and help Taiwan actively participate in multilateral and bilateral economic cooperation, strengthen social security network, set up food safety system, and assist execution of long-term care in rural areas. The new economic model will lead Taiwan toward an era of circular economy not only by integrating with spatial planning, regional development, and environment sustainability but also by regularly reviewing goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with the agreement at the COP 21 meeting in Paris 2015.
As President Tsai pointed out during the 520 Inauguration Ceremony, the food ingredients used for the banquet were all produced by local farmers and turned into dishes that blends in flavors of cuisine from various ethnic groups. We have to apply innovative thinking to elevate the value of agriculture by highlighting local characteristics while emphasizing the importance of agriculture. In the future, we will continue to put efforts in enhancement of farmers' welfare, protection of rural culture heritage, conservation of sustainable environment, and improvement of citizen's health.
In the face of the challenge of trade liberalization and extreme climate change, COA works along with all agricultural personnel in relevant ministries, local governments, public and private sectors to turn the crisis into opportunities. By establishing agricultural paradigms, constructing agricultural products’ safety system, and enhancing marketing abilities of agriculture, we will lay the foundations for agricultural development for the next decades and create the new agricultural value to bring Taiwan toward the world.
II. Strengthen structure, create value of innovation, and build a new layout for agriculture
COA strives to expedite the structural adjustment of agriculture, implement projects of promoting environmental payments on farmlands, diverse crop insurance for natural disaster, and assist young generation in farming. COA also continues to enhance agricultural products’ safety system, promote agricultural marketing according to market orientation, consolidate small scale agribusiness while fostering agricultural enterprises, set up national agricultural product trading platform, and establish national agricultural and fishery products export company in order to expand Southeast and Middle East Muslim market. I will be introducing you to the agricultural crucial policies planned for the next four years.
1. Establish agricultural paradigms to increase profits and welfare of farmers
(1) Promote environmental payments on farmlands
With the Guaranteed-Rice Price Purchasing system, COA will promote environmental payments on farmlands simultaneously. Farmers will receive subsidies by choosing environmental payments while their farmlands are cataloged to base period and for agriculture use only. The policy encouraged farmers to grow import-substituted crops, reduce chemical fertilizer and pesticides, promote environmentally friendly and organic farming, and fertilize fallow lands by promoting biochar.
(2) Implement crop insurances
To stabilize farmers’ investment and income, COA has promoted disaster insurances on agricultural, fishery and livestock products in order to effectively counter the challenges posed by climate change. Due to low temperature and continuous rainfall early 2016, the blooming of Yuhepao litchi flowers was severely influenced and resulted in poor yields. Kaohsiung City Government reported the damaged areas were approximately 2,600 hectares with an average of 30% to 40% loss in yields. Tainan City Government reported the damaged area of pomelo cultivation was 738 hectares with an average of 40% loss in yields. COA had announced in May 2016 that Kaohsiung City and Tainan City were eligible for applying for subsidies from the Delayed Natural Disaster Fund.
Beyond that, studies on adversity resistant crops, facility improvement, and market adjustment mechanism were conducted for further agriculture adjustments to mitigate damages by natural disasters.
(3) Upgrade livestock industry
To prevent livestock loss, COA will establish epidemic early warning system and express-examination center in site, implement rearing registration system, set up epidemic prevention standard operating procedure, and control foot-and-mouth disease, avian flu, as well as other serious animal diseases. In addition, COA will assist poultry farmers to re-raise livestock and poultry with the epidemic prevention standards, increase swine breeding rates, and promote solar and methane gas energy on barns.
In order to achieve the goal of exporting livestock products, COA will apply Traceable Agricultural Product (TAP) system to poultry and livestock products in different process phases including growing, slaughtering, dividing, and grading which would offer quality and safe products for consumers.
(4) Enhance conservation of Fishery resources
Recently Japan and Taiwan had reached the consensus over the Okinotori atoll fishery dispute and announced the establishment of Taiwan-Japan Marine Affairs Cooperation Dialogue Mechanism on May 23, 2016. Both countries agree to foster fishery cooperation, marine protection, scientific research, and maritime emergency rescue.
Furthermore, COA will continue to conserve marine resources both inshore and offshore to fulfill international fishery regulations, management fishery resources sustainably, and improve welfare of fishery workers.
(5) Sustainable management of forest resources
To protect our primary forests, COA will promote the legislation of banning primary forests logging in the Forestry Act. Meanwhile, COA will promote certifications of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) in managing plantations as well as deepening the spirit of Satoyama Initiative in rural and mountain areas to achieve the ultimate goal of managing environment sustainably.
(6) Promote win-win result for agriculture and solar energy
To reactivate contaminated, salinized, and submerged farmlands, COA will promote translucent photovoltaic equipment and put efforts into soil improvement researches. For application for establishing photovoltaic equipment on superior farmlands, there would be more regulations such as translucency demand, inspections, coverage ratio, and rainwater storage to protect agricultural production and rights of farmers.
(7) Develop smart agriculture
To promote biotechnology, controlled environment agriculture, and circular economy, COA will combine communication, internet of things, and big data analyses to advance smart agriculture production and digital services.
In addition, COA has set up a real-time information system for agro-foods prices, demand-supply warnings, and retailing information to achieve information equity among government agencies, farmers, industries, and consumers in order to establish mutual trusts and achieve the goal of national agriculture.
(8) Assist new generations of farmers
To establish agricultural education and internship facilities, COA will integrate resources from farmers' associations, agricultural research and extension stations, and agricultural research institutes. In addition, COA has established technic consulting system for young farmers, and assisted young farmers to rent farmlands and get loans so that the number of new generation farmers could grow every year.
(9) Activate local economy
To activate local economy, COA will encourage elementary and junior high schools to use local ingredients for school lunch, promote extended education of food and agriculture measures, and encourage local production for local consumption. Furthermore, to advance services for rural population and extend diversified markets, COA will set up regional agro-foods processing center to integrate production and sales, and make a connection between agri-tourism and other theme tours such as health care, cosmetic surgeries, and sports.
2. Construct agro-food security system to ensure consumers' rights and interests
(1) Construct food safety system
To contribute as an international member, COA will continue to implement food-aid projects to help countries suffering from hunger, poverty, and natural disasters.
To prevent farmlands loss, COA will inventory and classify resources of farmlands and forest lands in accordance with Spatial Planning Act in order to implement necessary regulations. In addition, COA will ensure farmland to be exclusively used for agriculture and hillsides conservation, reduce areas of fallow lands, and enhance agricultural irrigation efficiency.
(2) Big Granary Project: designate non-genetically modified grains production areas
To increase rural vitality and farmers’ income, COA will encourage farmers to grow import-substituted crops or non-genetically modified soy beans or corns on fallow lands. In addition, COA will construct post-harvest and agro-products processing system, encourage contractual production between farmers and enterprises, and offer advises to young farmers for vertical integration food production to processing.
(3) Promote organic and environmentally-friendly farming
To enhance water conservation, soil fertility preservation, and soil microbe, COA will promote organic farming, biotic- control, and carbon sequestration technology. Furthermore, COA will promote the legislation of Organic Agriculture Act for facilitating organic farming.
(4) Strengthen agriculture products safety from source
To prevent farmlands pollutions, COA will promote the separation of irrigation and discharge system, and strengthen investigation on farmland contaminations. In addition, COA will promote the reduction of chemical pesticide and fertilizers use, agricultural consultation system, and integrated management on crop cultivation and pest control.
(5) Increase inspection frequencies on agricultural products
To prevent contaminated agricultural products being consumed, COA will strengthen inspections for residual chemicals, heavy metals, or animal drugs on agricultural, fishery, and livestock products as well as heavy metal contamination on agricultural materials such as fertilizers and fodders.
(6) Establish a trust worthy labelling system of agricultural products
By the end of 2015, the production area of traceable agricultural products (TAP) reached 8,932 hectares, taking up 1.7% of cultivated areas. COA will establish a TAP task force to strengthen capacity building and raise consumer's recognition and trust in it. In addition, COA will make a connection between TAP and Global Good Agricultural Practice (Global GAP) and increase the production scale of certified agricultural products.
III. Enhance abilities of agricultural marketing for expanding domestic and international markets
(1) Empower small-scale farmers and support agricultural entrepreneurship
To enhance production scale and competitiveness of small-scale farmers and agricultural entrepreneurship, COA will launch reformation of farmers’ association, and integrate small-scale farmers with the help of agricultural cooperatives and production units. In addition, COA will promote specialized agricultural production areas to exploit the cluster effect as well as economy of scale and promote corporate synergy system, TAP, and six-level industries development program with farmers’ association to establish a cooperative model with small-scale farmers specializing in production while entrepreneurial farmers responsible for management.
(2) Establish a commercial organization to facilitate agro-products trading
To promote Taiwan’s competitive agro-products such as tropical fruits, food crops, facility flowers, products and processed products of fishery and livestock, COA will set up a agro-products marketing company to enhance export agro-products. This company will establish contracts with farmers’ associations to enhance products’ sources and quality, and further to strengthen international and high-end markets and expand markets in Southeast Asia, and Muslim in Middle East.
(3) Construct an electronic commerce platform for ago-products
To ensure stability of transaction and rights between buyers and sellers, COA will construct an E-Commerce platform for existing internet-based business to address problems of information asymmetry and safety issues of agro-products.
III. Implemented policies for the second half 2016
To implement various agriculture policies, COA has prioritized crucial policies as follows:
Chi-Hung comes from a farming family with a passion for rural communities and takes the concept of sustainable development of agriculture very seriously. I perceive our farmers’ eagerness to improve the production environment and I can see that our agriculture has great potential for future development. Recently COA has called on relevant administrations to review the responsibilities and would grasp the chance to each more consensuses through our policy workshops. COA has set policies and objectives for the medium-run agricultural strategies 2017 – 2020. COA will transform each agricultural policy into concrete action plans and have a new vision for national agriculture in the hope of constructing farmers’ happiness, agriculture safety, and rural scenery.
In your previous session, the Legislative Yuan had enacted the Statute for Compensation on Banning Tree-Cutting and Reforestation Act on indigenous-reserved lands, revised Articles 45 and 46 of the Agro-pesticides Management Act, revised Article 19 of the Fishermen Association Act, deleted Article 45, and revised Articles 5, 42, 46 and 48 of the Veterinarian Act. COA would abide by and practice laws to ensure citizens’ rights.
During this session, there are 12 drafts of organizational law such as the Ministry of Agriculture Organizational Law draft, and other 20 law revisions or amendments such as the statute draft for Act for Distant Water Fisheries, amendment of Statute for Act to Govern Investment in the Operation of Foreign Flag Fishing Vessels, articles revision of the Fisheries Act, articles revision of the Veterinary Drugs Control Act. All the aforementioned law enactments or amendments require the support of the Legislative Yuan. COA and I look forward to seeing you to review and pass these laws as a priority. Thank you for your attention and support.
Chi-Hung Tsao, Minister of Council of Agriculture