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Ma promises to help flood-affected rice farmers

2012/06/23 19:12:51

Taipei, June 23 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou said Saturday that his government will do its utmost to help lessen the losses that rice farmers sustained after their rice paddies were devastated by heavy rain and Tropical Storm Talim over the past few weeks.

After inspecting rice paddies in Chiayi City in southern Taiwan, Ma assured farmers that they will have their deserved earnings despite natural disasters causing widespread devastation.

The president asked the relevant authorities to assess the damage and evaluate measures required to raise government subsidies.

According to Council of Agriculture statistics, heavy rain damaged 13,000 hectares of first-crop rice paddies that are pending harvest around Taiwan, causing losses valuing nearly NT$200 million (US$6.68 million).

Most of the damaged paddies lie in the Yunlin, Chiayi, Taichung, Changhua and Nantou areas, the council said.

A veteran rice farmer, Wang Ming-tsung, in Chiayi City complained of severe damage to his crop and expressed the hope that the government raises its subsidization for damaged rice crops from the current NT$14,400 per hectare to NT$20,000.

"I have heard your wish," President Ma said in response.

The agricultural losses caused by heavy rain across Taiwan in June have escalated to nearly NT$900 million, with farmers in Taichung City and Taoyuan, Chiayi, Yunlin and Pingtung counties recording the severest damages, according to the official statistics.

The Cabinet-level council announced Saturday that disaster-affected farmers in these areas are entitled tolow-interest loans of 1.25 percent a year to assist them in post-disaster rehabilitation.

(By Huang Kuo-fang and Elizabeth Hsu)