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Agriculture losses from cold wave estimated at over NT$2.4 billion

Agriculture losses from cold wave estimated at over NT$2.4 billion

The estimated agricultural losses resulting from the cold front that hit Taiwan last week topped NT$2.4 billion (US$71.64 million), updated statistics released by the Council of Agriculture (COA) Friday showed.

The latest agricultural loss estimate from last week's cold spell totaled NT$2.46 billion, up from an estimated NT$1.7 billion released by the COA on Thursday. Tai Yu-yen, secretary general of the COA, said the updated estimate of agricultural losses reached a new high since December 1999, in terms of damage caused by cold weather.

Last week's cold wave, the most serious in a decade, engulfed Taiwan over the weekend. Even weather stations in low-lying areas of Taipei, Hsinchu County and Chiayi County observed soft hail (graupel or snow pellets) for the first time since the stations were established.

While new lows were not set in every area, all 28 weather stations around Taiwan recorded their lowest temperatures of this winter over the past weekend.

As of 11 a.m. Friday, the COA data showed, Tainan City had suffered the heaviest agricultural losses in Taiwan. The damage in Tainan has been estimated at NT$1.19 billion, accounting for 48 percent of the country's total.

Kaohsiung City came in second with agricultural losses hitting NT$821 million, making up about 33 percent of the national total, followed by Chiayi County, which recorded NT$128 million in agricultural losses. Yulin County rounded out the top four with NT$76.51 million in farm damage, the statistics showed.

Fishery losses were the largest among the sectors affected, the COA said. The data said the estimated losses in the segment hit NT$2.18 billion as of Friday morning with milkfish, grouper, clams, tilapia, and striped bass being the hardest hit, the COA said.

The COA said that estimated crop losses totaled NT$276 million resulting from the cold weather as of Friday morning. A total of 5,024 hectares of crops were damaged, with grapes hit the hardest, followed by pears, tomatoes, tangerines and strawberries.

Livestock damages totaled NT$640,000 from the loss of pigs, eggs, chickens, and ostriches, while damages to agricultural facilities totaled NT$3.78 million due to the bad weather, the COA said. The council said that farmers who suffered losses caused by the cold spell are eligible to apply for financial aid during the Jan. 26-Feb. 4 period to help their production return to normal.