Taiwan government under fire for agricultural policies

COA spending too much money on purchasing excess rice: legislators

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Government wheat and rice policies have come under fire.

Government wheat and rice policies have come under fire. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The Council of Agriculture (COA) on Tuesday (October 29) rejected allegations that it was wasting public money on the purchase and storage of wheat products to help farmers.

The government spent NT$15 billion (US$491 million) a year over the past five years on support systems for wheat products, including NT$10 billion on rice, leading to excessive spending while accumulating large reserves, the United Evening News reported Tuesday.

Legislators have been demanding an explanation by the COA as well as proposals to improve the situation.

The law prescribes that the government keeps 300,000 tons in storage as a safety measure. Similar systems overseas separated the storage of a safe reserve from influencing market prices, COA officials said, adding that problems with the method in Taiwan had led to the current way of helping to prop prices up.

For the yearly production of 200,000 tons of rice, the excess amount would end up in public storage, but rice consumption had stayed fairly stable, with a slight rise due to promotional actions last year not enough to meet supply, the United Evening News reported.

Schools and prisons were already targets for consumption, while beverage companies were encourage to use more rice to produce high-quality alcoholic drinks, according to the COA.