The United Nations and the international community continue to pour efforts into eradicating poverty and hunger, and Taiwan has never been absent from the action! The Council of Agriculture (COA) stated that according to the statistics from the Agriculture and Food Agency, Taiwan began its foreign food aid program in 2002, and has subsequently sent over 300,000 tons of rice to 33 countries suffering from poverty, hunger or catastrophe through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The aids were carried out under the principle of not compromising domestic food security and international trade order, and are gratuitous in nature.
In order to express their sincere gratitude, volunteer representatives from five countries, namely South Africa, Lesotho, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Swaziland paid a visit to the COA along with volunteers from the Tzu Chi Foundation. COA Secretary General Liao An-ding and Agriculture and Food Agency Deputy Director General Grace Lih-Fang Lin received these international volunteers from Africa who presented them with handbags the volunteers made using rice sacks as a gift symbolizing not just “Love From Taiwan” but also “Feed Back Taiwan”.
The 15-year foreign food aid program has given out 300,000 tons of Taiwanese rice
COA Secretary General Liao An-ding stated that Taiwan has initiated the humanitarian food aid since 2002, covering 33 countries in Africa, Central and South America, and Asia. It has thus fed the less fortunate and has enabled them to enjoy tasty Taiwanese rice at the same time. Nevertheless, the World Trade Organization (WTO) and World Food Programme (WFP) have regulated that food aid should not affect normal trade practice. Thus, it should only proceed if in compliance with the principles of demand orientation, gratuity, and not related to trade distortion so that export subsidies disguising as food aid could be prevented from interfering with normal international trade.
International politics is constantly changing and Taiwan’s position in the international community is somewhat special. More than often, Taiwan’s charitable humanitarian actions in countries without official diplomatic ties are interrupted by severe political interference. Therefore, the COA and the MOFA worked with international NGOs which have deeper and wider reach than the government and can grasp the actual need of the locations in question. Since 2002, the government has collaborated with the Tzu Chi Foundation, World Vision Taiwan, Noordhoff Craniofacial Foundation, World Taiwanese Chambers of Commerce, Taiwan Root Medical Peace Corps, The Red Cross Society of the Republic of China (Taiwan), Rotary Club, and World League for Freedom and Democracy to distribute over 300,000 tons of rice in sacks printed with the slogan: “Love From Taiwan”.
Reciprocal gesture of good will: rice sacks turn into lovely and environmentally friendly handbags
Gladys Ngema from South Africa said that the staple food in Africa is corn or cornmeal, so to the local population the charity rice not only satisfies their physiological need but also is a precious, luxurious, exotic delicacy. In order to show their gratitude, she brought handmade shoulder bags for the COA as gift. Ngema emphasized that the bags were made using rice sacks printed with the “Love From Taiwan” slogan, and represent not merely the recycling of materials but also the circulation of kindness.
According to the statistics of Agriculture and Food Agency (AFA), currently around 40% to 50% of all food aid abroad by the government was distributed by the Tzu Chi Foundation. In 2016, the AFA continued to work with MOFA, World Vision, Noordhoff Craniofacial Foundation, and World Taiwanese Chambers of Commerce for the delivery of 17,300 tons of rice to 18 countries including Cambodia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Jordan, Pakistan, South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Botswana, Sierra Leone, St. Maarten, Honduras, Haiti, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, and the Marshall Islands. The joint foreign aid with the Tzu Chi Foundation accounted for 7,640 tons.
Foreign food aid carried out according to law while ensuring domestic food security
The COA reiterated that the operation of government food aid abroad must first confirm that there is sufficient national grain stock, and then carry out according to the Guidelines for Humanitarian Food Assistance. The procedure is divided into four steps: application, review, implementation, and conclusion. Any civilian group or government agency can submit application papers to the COA and place a performance bond. After reviewing the proper documentations, confirming the demand of the area in need of assistance, and the quantity appropriateness, the COA would proceed with packing and send to applicant agencies according to relevant shipping dates. The performance bond paid to the COA can be fully refunded after the food aid operation is concluded.
Volunteer representatives from 5 African countries come to Taiwan to express their gratitude.
Volunteer representatives from South Africa, Lesotho, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Swaziland paid a visit to COA Secretary General Liao An-ding and Agriculture and Food Agency Deputy Director General Grace Lih-Fang Lin.
COA’s Love From Taiwan rice aid program transcends boundaries: volunteer representatives from 5 African countries come to Taiwan to express their gratitude.