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September 27, 2017

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Gov't to initiate control measures for garlic prices

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Council of Agriculture (COA) yesterday announced that it would be implementing a land quota system for garlic farmers starting this September in order to halt production and sales imbalances.

Garlic has been sold at a shocking range of prices throughout Taiwan; it is sold at NT$60 to NT$80 per kilogram in Northern Taiwan while garlic farmers are only paid NT$20 every kilogram for their products.

Starting in September, all garlic producing areas will be assigned a piece of land designated in size that is registered with the government. Should a county or city refuse to cooperate with the new system, the government will refuse to provide financial support when garlic production and prices are imbalanced in the future.

The COA will be the main buyer of the garlic farmers, with the Agriculture and Food Agency (AFA) purchasing new equipment to stop retailers from controlling garlic prices.

To put a stop to imbalances, the COA has chipped in NT$60 million and is planning to export 3,000 tons of locally produced garlic and another 2,000 tons to be processed and sold this year. The plan will barely balance out the price gaps, said COA.

Garlic farmers are reportedly still troubled over the financial impact of pricing differences, as there is only one to two months of the garlic season left and the buying prices have not yet picked up.

The local farmers' associations will be acting as the processing center for each county and city, purchasing storage space and essential equipment, said AFA Director Li Tsang-lang (李蒼郎). "Once the production and garlic prices begin to lose balance, the farmers' associations will step in and buy the garlic at a reasonable price," said Li.

The AFA pointed out that garlic prices have been unstable at an average of once every three years, but farmers' decisions were also a key factor in the pricing ups and downs. "When the prices are good, many farmers rush to plant garlic, but when they produce more than they can sell, they ask the government to buy the garlic," said the AFA.

Taiwan produces 50,000 tons of garlic each year; the amount calls for only 4,800 hectares of land in total, which the government will be measuring out to garlic farmers in Changhua, Yunlin, Chiayi and Tainan counties.

At the beginning of 2014, the price of garlic in Yunlin County has dropped to NT$10 per kilogram, which is NT$13 to NT$15 les than the same period in 2013. According to local media, retailers and wholesalers have been profiting hugely from the pricing differences at the expense of local garlic farmers.

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