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September 25, 2017

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Gov't will support rain-hit farmers: Ma

The China Post news staff

President Ma Ying-jeou promised yesterday that the central government will spare no effort to give disaster-stricken rice farmers the profit they deserve.

Tropical Storm Talim (泰利) and torrential rainfall in June have damaged more than 13,000 hectares of first-crop rice paddies, according to the Executive Yuan's Council of Agriculture (COA, 農委會).

In the wake of Tropical Storm Talim, rice farmers have called on the Ma administration to strengthen grants for rice damage due to natural disasters.

Ma yesterday inspected damaged rice paddies in Chiayi City's Dasi Village (大溪).

The president, COA Minister Chen Bao-ji (陳保基) and Chiayi City Mayor Huang Min-hui (黃敏惠) attended a briefing detailing the damage.

A local rice farmer, Wang Ming-tsung (王明聰), said that the blow to his crop harvest this year was tremendous. Wang appealed to the government to relax eligibility requirements for government subsidies.

Wang also said he hopes for strengthened grants, such as an increase in subsidies from the current NT$14,400 per hectare to NT$20,000.

Ma promised on the spot that he will instruct the COA to assess the damage and evaluate measures required to raise government subsidies.

Besides reducing losses, the government will "spare no effort" to ensure that farmers reap the monetary profit that they deserve, said Ma.

"I have heard your voices. The reason I am here is to provide a solution to your problem," he said.

Also yesterday, the president toured a rice mill in Yunlin County's Xiluo Township (西螺鎮).

Ma commended the local farmers' association for purchasing rice drying equipment to expedite grain processing for farmers. The president also urged other local governments to do the same.

Rice Damage at Nearly NT$200 Million

So far in June, damage to rice paddies has amounted to nearly NT$200 million. The worst-hit regions are Yunlin (雲林), Chiayi (嘉義), Taichung, Changhua and Nantou areas (中彰投地區), according to the COA.

Torrential rains and Talim have caused total agricultural losses of nearly NT$900 million, with farmers in Taichung City (台中市) and Taoyuan (桃園), Chiayi, Yunlin and Pingtung (屏東) counties recording severe damage, according to official statistics.

COA to Offer Farmers Low-interest Loans

The COA announced yesterday that farmers in the five worst-hit regions of Taoyuan, Chiayi, Yunlin, Taichung and Pingtung are eligible for low-interest government loans.

Disaster-struck farmers are entitled to loans with annual interest rates of 1.25 percent, said Hsu Jyh-ming (徐智明), deputy director of the council's Bureau of Agricultural Finance (農業金融局).

The Taichung and Pingtung governments have just been notified about the loan program, said Hsu yesterday. Taoyuan, Chiayi, Yunlin were informed on June 13, June 14, and June 22, respectively.

Hsu stressed that the low-interest loans are to help farmers reconstruct and rehabilitate their agricultural operations after natural disasters.

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