Dr. Wu-Hsiung Chen, Minister, Council of Agriculture (COA), Executive Yuan explained the blueprint for the future agricultural policies during his inaugural press conference held on May 22. He expressed the main agricultural policies will be based on "health, efficiency and sustainable development". With great ambition to be linked with the globalization trend, bringing into full play the technology advantage of Taiwan's agriculture and its economic-geographic condition, and with thinking to accommodate continuation, innovation and reformation, he is to promote agricultural policy with five concerns covering farmers, consumers, environment, offspring and the whole world, and to work out "Tri-Agri" visions, three priority bills and twelve focus strategies. So, it expects to build a modern agriculture which roots at present, cares for the future and accesses the world.
Minister Chen further explained the content of "integrated agriculture policies and its implementation". It comprises "five concerns" including modern practices to pursue profits and efficiency for farmers and to ensure their welfare; to provide consumers with fresh, stable quality, and safe agricultural products for their healthy eating; to put emphasis on landscape and energy saving, to assure sustainable development for our natural environment; to expect to conserve a piece of clean land for our fallow generations and to make a good life for everyone by market development and sci-tech R&D; as a member of global village, we should take responsibility for preserving resources, environment and increasing use of green energy.
Minister Chen specified the new government's "Tri-Agri" visions:
1. Farmers – average farm household income exceed one million dollars in four years.
2. Rural area – to invest 150 billion NT dollars in rural regeneration plan for the establishment of wealthy and rural villiages.
3. Agriculture – to make Taiwan as a "the non-toxic agriculture island".
To coordinate smoothly the implementation of the above-mentioned agricultural policies, the COA is to steer three priority agriculture bills including the amendment of the "National Pension Law" that will detach farmers' insurance from the scope of national pension in order to ensure the rights of the current farmers health insurance for farmers; to draw up the "Statue for rejuvenation of the Rural Areas" as the legal basis for carrying out rejuvenation plans on rural areas; to amend the "Animal Husbandry Act" that is to establish a system for industry self-regulating of production & marketing and to apply total quantity control of livestock production by ranch registration. In addition, it is also to establish industry funds for stabilizing the prices of livestock products.
Minister Chen emphasized the core concept of "to make farmers' life good" and reiterated, "Whatever color a political party would be, blue or green, the implementation of government policies should be sustainability". Therefore, it should listen to the voices of farmers and grassroots organizations, and should reach a consensus from multiple advices while the COA steers every plan. He expressed that the primary task after taking office is to ensure "food security": On the one hand, it is to ensure no shortage for food supply. On the other hand, it is to avoid panic among consumers. The first job is to raise the domestic food security reserve from 300,000 tons currently to 400,000 tons. Secondly, it is to strengthen the activation on fallow land, in addition to rewarding land rehabilitation and rice planting, feed corn planting is also encouraged to reduce production costs of livestock production. To solve the problem of domestic shortage of fertilizer supply, Minister Chen said, the government would announce on May 29 the complementary measures with basic directions, including have fertilizer available at reasonable prices which reflect the real costs, and the government provides some subsidies to farmers' payments. So, it hopes to enable manufacturers may reflect the reasonable costs and the increase would not caused great burden for farmers. In the meantime, the measures also include using proper supply and marketing systems, such as the farmers' associations, to ensure farmers are able to buy fertilizer steadily, and to ensure that fertilizer will not be improperly transferred or stockpiled. Besides, he also indicated to mobilize the staffs of the COA's Agricultural Improvements or Research Institutes to instruct the proper fertilizer use in the field for the purpose of reducing the waste of fertilizer in order to achieve the goals of energy savings and reducing farmers' production cost.
In addition, Minister Chen also declared to strengthen the promotion of Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) and Certified Agricultural Standard (CAS), to choose the suitable products for traceability, and to take care of the vast number of consumers and farmers. Promoting "the third phase of land reform" is to implement small landowners and big cultivators and the rural regeneration plans one to improve the activation of farmland and rural areas. Within eight years it is anticipated to increase the plains afforestation area up to 60,000 hectares and to set three world-class large-scale forest recreation areas, by taking into account environmental responsibility and leisure tourism development. At least one of them will be selected in which it is to, by opening international bid, set up a "world-class tourist orchard" covering more than one hundred hectares, with planting Taiwan's worldwide well-known fruits. In coordination with mainland tourists visiting Taiwan, the tourists are able to see and eat the public favorite fruits, such as wax apples, mangoes, Sugar apples grapefruits that should substantially boost tourism revenue. Each unit of the COA has started the short-, medium- and long-term planning for the above stated policies and projects; as short-term plans setting goals for a 6-month basis (the end of this year), medium-term plans over an 18-month basis (the end of next year) and long-term plans over a 4-year basis.
Minister Chen entered Joint Commission on Rural Reconstruction (JCRR), the predecessor of the COA, as Jr. Specialist since January 1, 1971. He is a veteran of the agriculture industry, with substantial agricultural economic background and abundant administration experience, and known for his strict working attitude. On his first day of the job, May 21, at 10 a.m. he received brief from the Agriculture and Food Agency. All colleagues fully experienced no transition period for policy implementation and a 'wind-up and action ready' execution power. Minister Chen showed his poet's personality with his very first sentence, "It's nice to come home!" while addressing all colleagues on the first day. In order to fulfill his self-expectation to create the COA into a big family, he held the "singing contest of the COA star class one" for colleagues and their family members as his first action. So, the COA colleagues can work in the healthy happy big family and put their efforts to take care of farmers. He will share "home's feeling" to work arduously together with all COA Colleagues.
Once again, Minister Chen declared the COA team group would start with compressive care, to making key breakthrough and then to taking root, pursue a "health, efficiency and sustainable development" agriculture could lead Taiwan's agriculture to reach a new milestone so as to reseat the brand new spring of Taiwan's agriculture in the near future.