The Golden Corridor Program
Under the Executive Yuan’s “Golden Decade National Vision” strategy, the Council of Agriculture adopted two core axes for policy: (1) “agriculture of health and sustainability” (also known as “LOHAS agriculture”) and (2) “health, efficiency, sustainability.” Coordinating these with the “Economic Power-Up Plan,” a stimulus program launched by the government in September of 2012, the COA has devised the “Golden Corridor Program” as the flagship demonstration area for the overarching concept called “Golden Decade: LOHAS Agriculture.” The strategic targets are “new technologies, new farmers, new industries” (aka “the three new’s”) and the goal is to create, between 2013 and 2020, a “Golden Corridor” of rural economic activities that will, compared to current industries, (a) use less water and (b) use less energy (“the two reductions”).
Golden Corridor Strategy: Two Reductions and Three “New’s”
This program is expected to yield the following results: (1) a reduction in the drawing of groundwater by 24 million metric tons per year; (2) a mobilization of 120,000 visits to patronize the rural tourism industry, increasing revenues from tourism in the corridor; (3) promotion of high- tech, energy-saving, water-saving, high-economic-value agro-industries and R&D, increasing the competitiveness of agriculture in both domestic and foreign markets, while also encouraging exports of technology; (4) systematic training of a new group of younger farmers (1650 persons) and creation of more diversified rural job opportunities, thereby lowering unemployment; (5) further development of agro-technologies, breeds, and high-tech agro-industry concentrations for the cultivation of import-substitution crops, helping us to reach our target of 40% food self-sufficiency by 2020; (6) a demonstration effect for sustainable, environmentally-friendly agriculture; (7) additional stimulus to the overall “economic power-up” of the rural economy.
The main points to be promoted under this program are as follows:
■ The plan calls for use of land-subsidence areas within a three-kilometer range of the High- Speed Railway in Changhua and Yunlin counties. The main focal points will be: (1) promotion of agricultural methods that reduce water use; (2) adjusting the agro-industrial structure in the designated area; (3) implementation of a rational planning system for use of water resources and revitalizing currently underused local agricultural resources; (4) strengthening guidance and support for agricultural production and marketing; (5) promoting modernized agriculture; (6) creation of a demonstration area for the COA’s larger policies with respect to “LOHAS agriculture.”
■ Besides “the three new’s” and “the two reductions,” the program will be coordinated with other policy measures whose application to the Golden Corridor will raise the effectiveness of the whole program. These include:
(1) Guidance in switching paddy rice cultivation to upland crop cultivation, promoting SRI (“the system of rice intensification”), using water-saving irrigation methods, strengthening management of the use of water by the agriculture sector, offering incentives for construction of water re-use facilities, raising efficiency in the use of water, and conserving water resources.
(2) Promotion of organic farming, afforestation, and community revitalization, with rural communities developing in the direction of reduced water use and the harmonious and moderate use of soil and water resources; strengthening of the production- and-marketing traceability system, assistance to farmers to develop brand name recognition for products that are especially competitive, guidance in international marketing, diversification of marketing for local agro-products, ensuring the upgrading of competitiveness of Taiwan’s agro-products, and promotion of diversified development of the rural economy.
(3) Continual improvement of early warning systems for the agro-products market, more R&D into relevant tools and improvement of information surveys, upgrading of the ability of those in the rural economy to keep abreast of market information, and use of planned production in order to minimize market risks.
■ The Golden Corridor Program is a demonstration program. It will first be implemented in areas within the designated Corridor space where land subsidence is especially severe, with special sites being developed for low-water-use agriculture. In the future, there will be a rollover effect as we assess progress at existing sites and then extend their successful aspects to other areas.