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President-elect's industry tour takes her to Chiayi

2016/03/01 20:07:03

Taipei, March 1 (CNA) President-elect Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said Tuesday during a meeting with farmers in Chiayi, southern Taiwan, that the government will form a labor brokerage to help solve labor shortages in rural areas.

The closed-door meeting, part of a tour of Taiwan's industries organized to prepare Tsai for the presidency, was also attended by Chiayi County Magistrate Chang Hwa-kuan (張花冠) and Mayor of Chiayi City Twu Shiing-jer (涂醒哲).

Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲), convener of a Democratic Progressive Party think tank's agriculture team, cited Tsai as saying in the meeting that the government will form the labor brokerage, which will require cooperation between the central and local governments.

Chen said the central government brokerage could provide short-term laborers for high-value agricultural products.

Tsai also broached the idea of setting up an "agricultural land bank" in response to concerns by farmers about their difficulties in obtaining land.

Tsai expressed hope that agricultural land held by older farmers can be released for those who want to farm it.

On the hope by some farmers that state-owned Taiwan Sugar Corp. (Taisugar), Taiwan's largest landowner, can release some of its land, Tsai said that if all its land were to be released, it would have a big impact, given Taiwan's small market size.

Instead, she said, any release of Taisugar land should be carried out in conjunction with the "land bank."

Chen noted that Taisugar has 55,000 hectares of land. Of this total, more than 37,000 hectares are for agricultural use, and more than 12,000 hectares are for contract production.

How much of Taisugar's land should be released will require further deliberations, Chen said.

Tsai earlier visited a flower production facility and marketing group in Xingang, where she learned about the picking, packaging and marketing process and learned how to prune Lisianthus.

She also said during a visit to a tomato farm that she was glad to see a college graduate as part of the farm's production and marketing group.

She noted that the group consists mostly of small farmers, and said that the biggest challenge of her government will be to pool the strength of the small farmers for production, processing, packaging and marketing.

(By Huang Kuo-fang and Lilian Wu)