Alexa

Lawmakers call for crackdown on betel nut smuggling

Opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers urged law enforcement authorities Monday to tighten a crackdown on contraband betel nuts, warning that if the problem continues, it could affect the livelihoods of farmers in southern Taiwan.
DPP lawmakers Pen Meng-an and Su Chen-ching issued the call at a news conference at the Legislative Yuan.
They urged Premier Liu Chao-shiuan to address the issue and asked the Coast Guard Administration to stamp out the increased smuggling of betel nuts into Taiwan as it has brought down the price of locally produced betel nuts, seriously affecting the livelihoods of some 400,000 families.
Betel nuts smuggled from Thailand and China's Hainan Province were found "for the first time" in the domestic market, they claimed.
Pingtung County in southern Taiwan produces over 75,000 metric tons of betel nuts per year, accounting for more than 30 percent of the country's total output. Some 25,000 hectares of farmland in Pingtung County are legally dedicated to the cultivation of the cancer-causing addictive nuts.
Huang Teh-chin, a betel nut farmer from Pingtung County, said their crop was badly hit by heavy rain that inundated central and southern Taiwan last week. "Our livelihoods are set to be impacted if the government fails to properly deal with the rampant contraband betel nuts in the domestic market," he complained.
Betel nuts farmers might consider taking to the streets if the Executive Yuan fails to heed the issue, he said.