In response to the media report on how excessive fallow lands would lead to food insecurity, the Council of Agriculture (COA) stated that in order to ensure domestic food security, a program that involves cultivation system adjustment and farmland reactivation was launched in January 2013 aimed to encourage fallow land rehabilitation for the cultivation of import substitute products. Production of characteristic, organic crops with export potential are also encouraged so as to increase the supply of domestically produced food. Since then, the annual area of fallow lands dropped from 200,000 hectares to 112,000 hectares in 2013. Calculations based on the increased calorie yield from the crops cultivated on rehabilitated farmlands show that the food self-sufficiency rate could be elevated 0.6%, making this an outstanding achievement.
Rehabilitation of fallow lands boosts domestic food supply and increases overall output value up to NT$17.8 billion
The COA also explained that Taiwan's calorie-weighted food self-sufficiency ratio in 2013 accounted for 33.3% with an increase of 0.6 percent compared to that of the previous year. In particular, the self-sufficiency rate of those items that have adapted well to Taiwan's climate such as rice, vegetables, fruits, pork, poultry, and aquatic products all reached 80%. As for those below the average ratio like soy beans and wheat were imported from abroad and their self-sufficiency rate fell under 0.1%.
The COA further stated that since the implementation of fallow land reactivation plan in 2013, the central and local governments worked closely with farmers' associations whose joint efforts resulted in an annual decrease of 88,000 hectares of declared fallow land from 200,000 hectares in 2011 to 112,000 hectares in 2013. Furthermore, the area of farmlands that switched to contract farming or cultivate other crops expanded to 53,000 hectares, among which 20,000 hectares were dedicated to growing major import substitute crops such as soy bean, wheat, corn, pasture, and forage maize. Converting the estimated total harvest of 1.36 million tons by these rehabilitated farmlands into calories would raise the food self-sufficiency rate by 0.6%. Moreover, the project spurred the development of related industries to a total value increase of NT$ 17.8 billion while saving the fiscal expense of NT$2 billion on crop rotation systems. It is safe to say that the project has achieved a remarkable result.
Continue to promote fallow land rehabilitation and encourage domestic consumption of local produce in order to strengthen local production
The COA stressed that in order to actively utilize fallow lands, the Council will continue to review the progress of the project and take measures to enhance its effectiveness throughout 2014. One instance is the active counseling provided to the contract farming of grain crops with import substitute crops. In addition, for each crop season a subsidy of NT$ 45,000 per hectare was offered to the cultivation of wheat. Furthermore, 6 major import-substitute crops, namely sesame, job's tears, buckwheat, mesona, oil-seed camellia, and tea were selected to be grown by contract farming. According to the statistics, the aforementioned crop area has reached a total of 3,300 hectares and the project has effectively boosted local production and consumption while improving domestic food supply. In the future, there would be more choices of crops for farmers who wish to rehabilitate their lands. The government will provide guidance towards establishing high-quality and high value-added oriented crops production. The next step will be branding and marketing these products internationally, which will surely transform and upgrade Taiwan’s future agriculture.