MoU signed between I-Mei and Pingtung Government for new contract farming agreement on four local agricultural staples

A Memorandum of Understanding ( MoU ) was signed between I Mei-Foods Co and Pingtung Country Government on Monday, setting out arrangements for implementing contract farming programs for red beans, red quinoa, millet and pigeon pea

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With the witness of COA Deputy Minister Chen Chi-chung (center), I-Mei General Manager Luis Ko (left) and Pingtung County Commissioner Pan Men-an sign

With the witness of COA Deputy Minister Chen Chi-chung (center), I-Mei General Manager Luis Ko (left) and Pingtung County Commissioner Pan Men-an sign (By Taiwan News)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News)—A Memorandum of Understanding ( MoU ) was signed between I-Mei Foods Co and Pingtung Country Government on Monday, setting out arrangements for implementing contract farming programs for red beans, red quinoa, millet and pigeon pea.

In an address immediately before the signing ceremony, Pingtung County Commissioner Pan Men-an (潘孟安) said that I-Mei has been a longtime environmentally friendly farming supporter, and in February last year, the food company signed a red quinoa contract farming program with the county and promised to purchase 100,000 kilograms of the crop with a guaranteed price that was much higher than the market price. Since then, the two parties have been satisfied with the price, the way the crop was grown, and the quality of the crop, Pan said. Therefore, the county government has been working with I-Mei again since early this year to extend contract farming programs from one crop to four, and the most notable is the one for red beans.

Pan said Pingtung’s red beans are highly regarded for their quality and account for three quarters of the country’s total red bean production. However, the red bean prices were down and fluctuated a lot last year due to competition from imported beans and the price manipulation by dealers, Pan said, adding that as a result local formers have sustained loss.

In light of what happened last year to local red bean farmers, Pan said the county government sought out I-Mei to help red bean farmers out by creating the red bean contract farming platform that will stabilize the crop’s prices and at the same time encourage environmentally friendly farming.

The county commissioner said the contract farming programs will extend to other crops and dairy as well in the future, adding, “It is a blessing that I-Mei has got our back.”

I-Mei General Manager Luis Ko (高志明) said contract farming has proved to be a good way of helping local farmers, and therefore the company decided to extend the red quinoa contract farming form one year to five years and include more crops in the contract farming scheme, especially after I-Mei learned of what happened to the red bean farmers last year. He said that the food company decided to purchase 200 tons of red beans at a guaranteed price of NT$135 per kilogram, which is higher than the market price.

Ko said I-Mei is willing to purchase contract crops at much-higher-than-market prices because the food company can’t bear to see hard working farmers become victims of price manipulation by fruit dealers and competition from low-priced imported agriculture products. I-Mei also encourages environmentally friendly farming because it is the path Taiwan’s agriculture must tread, Ko said, adding that many Taiwanese young people come from the countryside and they know how hard-working farmers are, so they will support Taiwan’s native agricultural products grown by environmentally friendly methods.

I-Mei will buy millet and pigeon pea at NT$450 per kilogram, but as for how much the food company can purchase these two crops, Chen Yung-hsiang, purchasing department senior manager at I-Mei, said it will depend on how fast the food company can develop new products related to the two crops.

I-Mei General Manager Luis Ko (left), Pingtung County Commissioner Pan Men-an (center), and Council of Agriculture Deputy Minister Chen Chi-chung (right) taste Pingtung red bean soup after the MoU signing ceremony on Monday

Red bean will be the main contract crop under the MoU

I-Mei General Manager Luis Ko (left) and a 104-year-old farmers' representative enjoy having their photos taken after the MoU signing ceremony

A display of I-Mei's products developed from red beans, red quinoa, and millet