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Second Inter-ministerial Food Security Meeting Studies Countermeasures


To stabilize domestic food supply and prices, the Council of Agriculture (COA) convened the second meeting of the Inter-ministerial Food Security Task Force on March 7. The discussions focused on three issues: current situation of food supply and demand and whether domestic food supply is secure, planning the maximization of future domestic food production and how to adjust production structure, and studying ways to expand overseas production bases to ensure food sources abroad. The Council stressed the meeting confirmed that current stock of locally produced rice is sufficient to supply for one year and imported wheat, soybean and other grains can be supplied stably until mid-year, but for the sake of long-term consideration it will promote the establishment of an inter-ministerial coordination platform for overseas agricultural investment and cooperation, and simulate the emergency situation in which Taiwan can not get food supply from international markets and formulate countermeasures.

Public Grain Stock of Rice Higher Than International Standards Level and Supply of Wheat, Soybean and Other Grains Are Secure

The COA said that at the end of February public grain stock of rice was 480,000 metric tons, which was 60% higher than the 300,000-ton domestic rice stock security level; and that public rice stock is estimated at some 420,000 and 520,000 tons at the end of May when the first rice harvest of 2011 is reaped and at the end of this year respectively, which are higher than the level set by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Japan and South Korea and enough to supply for the demand in more than one year. Moreover, domestic manufacturers have kept enough stock of wheat, soybean and other grains for demand in 1-1.5 months, plus the grains shipping on the way and purchased, Taiwan has taken control of grains enough to meet demand in 3-4 months.

As food prices are rising, the Council will activate set-aside land to plant rice and actively promote rice consumption to reduce the demand for other grains at the end of May every year when the security domestic rice stock is no less than 400,000 tons in order to take control of domestic rice requirement. The Council will also ask the Ministry of Economic Affairs to study and formulate measures to stabilize wheat, corn, soybean and granulated sugar prices so as to ensure stable supply and demand.

Planning Measure to Maximize Domestic Production and Taking Control of Potential Food Self-Sufficiency Rate

The COA noted that to ensure domestic food security when Taiwan is unable to import food in an emergency situation, the Council has referred to the Japanese practice and planned measures to maximize production of crops which can be grown locally. Calculating at 2,000 calories needed daily to maintain basic nutrition, Taiwan needs a food crop production area of 1.32 million hectares (710,000 hectares of land area) to plant rice, feed corn, pasture, forage maize, potato, sugar cane and oil-rich crops. At present Taiwan has some 820,000 hectares of cultivated area and the Council, together with the Ministry of the Interior, will finish making an inventory of domestic farmland by the end of 2011 in response to self-producing basic calorie requirements in an emergency situation.

The Council will also activate set-aside land, adjust agricultural production structure and strengthen scientific and technological research and development to increase food supply, and ask the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Taiwan Sugar Corporation to actively plan the resumption of sugar cane production and jointly activate set-aside land so as to increase food self-sufficiency rate and reduce import dependence.

Expanding Production Bases Abroad to Ensure Overseas Food Supply

Taiwan is a net food-importing country and to ensure domestic food security it is necessary to effectively control overseas food supply and expand production bases abroad, emphasized the COA. The second meeting of the Inter-ministerial Food Security Task Force has asked relevant ministries to collect information on how other net food-importing counties and neighboring Japan and South Korea have promoted such matters as overseas bulk grain investment cooperation for reference when continue evaluating the feasibility and formulating policies, and actively seek for the joint establishment of an emergency food reserve mechanism under the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation to provide mutual support at a time of emergency food shortage. Relevant ministries will jointly propose appropriate overseas investment areas for key crops and actively expand production bases abroad to effectively obtain food sources from abroad so as to safeguard domestic food security. ( 2011-03-08)