Taipei, July 5 (CNA) "Taitung No.9," a new variety of high-yielding, early-ripening millet, has been developed after a decade of efforts, a Council of Agriculture research station said Thursday.
The new variety boosts spring millet yields by 15 percent, compared with the older "Taitung No. 8," said the council's Taitung District Agricultural Research and Extension Station.
It also takes approximately 5 days less to reach maturity than other types of millet, the station said.
Although Taiwan has a long history of cultivating millet, production has been declining and an increasing number of hybrid varieties have entered the market in recent years.
The new variety will help solve these problems as it is particularly well-adapted to the plains and medium altitude farmland of Taitung County in eastern Taiwan, where crops of millet are traditionally grown by aboriginal communities, according to the station.
With an increasing interest in millet, the new variety will help promote the cultural heritage and boost the economies of aboriginal groups inhabiting major millet production areas like Taitung, the research station said.
Domestic millet prices currently range from NT$200 (US$6.70) to NT$300 per kilogram. Millet is cultivated on 200 hectares of land in Taiwan, mainly in Taitung, Pingtung, Kaoshiung, Yilan, and Taoyuan, the station added.
Millet contains nutrients typically lacking in most cereal grains, such as vitamins A, B1, B2, and E, and a small amount of selenium.
(By Yang Su-min and Shih-Chun Liu)