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Typhoon drives up veggie prices, agricultural losses

TAIPEI--Wholesale vegetable prices have surged by an average of nearly 30 percent in Taipei and agricultural losses have grown to over NT$352 million (US$11.73 million) countrywide, official data showed yesterday, following days of rainfall caused by Typhoon Saola.

The average vegetable price in Taipei's wholesale markets on Friday was recorded at NT$39.5 per kilogram, up by 28.66 percent from the NT$30.7 per kg on July 29, before Saola's arrival on Thursday, the Agriculture and Food Agency data indicated.

The data also showed that the volume of vegetables shipped to the markets decreased by 51.44 percent on Friday to some 653 metric tons from 1,345 tons on July 29.

The price of leafy vegetables rose to NT$31.3 per kg in Taipei's markets Friday, up by 44.24 percent from NT$21.7 per kg on July 29.

Compared with July 29, the price of bok choy (also known as Chinese chard) rose by 97.79 percent to NT$44.7 per kg, water spinach by 97.83 percent to NT$54.6 and white Chinese cabbage by 114.29 percent to NT$27.

The volume of delivered leafy vegetables decreased by 48.34 percent, according to the data released by the agency, which falls under the Cabinet-level Council of Agriculture (COA).

Director-general of the agency Lee Tsang-lang said the agency has released 102 metric tons of its Chinese cabbage stocks to local markets to relieve the strain on supply.

According to COA statistics, as of 10 a.m. Friday, agricultural losses due to Saola had reached NT$352.14 million countrywide.

Losses resulting from damage to agricultural produce were estimated at NT$215.86 million, with custard apples the most heavily affected crop, recording losses of NT$47.44 million, the COA said.

The losses in the livestock sector were assessed at NT$3.87 million, those in the fishery sector at NT$19.14 million and forestry losses were recorded at NT$5.08 million, the council said.

Losses incurred by damage to farmland and agricultural facilities reached NT$110.77 million, the council noted, adding that 98 hectares of farmland in Yilan County, northeastern Taiwan, were washed away, resulting in estimated losses of NT$95 million.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education reported NT$5.45 million in storm-related damage to 127 schools around the island, including 26 in Yilan County and 26 in Kaohsiung, 11 in New Taipei and 10 in Taipei.

Currently, schools in 15 townships around the country are still closed, the agency said.

The Central Weather Bureau lifted its land warning for Taiwan's main island Friday morning as Saola moved away from the island and entered Fujian Province in China.

As of 2 p.m., Saola, which has weakened to a tropical storm, was centered 200 kilometers northwest of the outlying county of Matsu, moving at a speed of 21 km per hour in a northwesterly direction.

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 5 ex-judges sentenced over graft 
The shattered remains of a cottage villa in Tianmei Village, Nanjhuang Township of Miaoli County lay in ruins, yesterday. Typhoon Saola hit the township on Thursday, bringing in torrential rains that caused disastrous mudslides. Reportedly, 11 cottages were buried. The other four remaining were either partially destroyed or damaged severely. (CNA)

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