Just a farm house

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Re: Just a farm house

Postby Mucha Man » 11 Feb 2012, 15:22

Enigma wrote:I predict that Taiwan will soon reduce the amount of Ag zoning to allow more factories. You can't import jobs but you can import food. It's just around the corner. IMHO - not a bad idea. Taiwan is not now, nor never will have a sustainable agricultural base for its population so - why not?


Farming is also a source of employment and in Taiwan has acted as a great social safety net during recessions. What do you think happened to the tens of thousands of laid of central science park workers during the big downturn in 2008-09? Many went back to their parents' farms. Not much money but at least they were eating.

As for sustainable, Taiwan produces enough rice for it's entire population. And I am sure it is doesn't need to import most vegetables either.
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Re: Just a farm house

Postby Steviebike » 11 Feb 2012, 15:47

Muzha Man wrote:Farming is also a source of employment and in Taiwan has acted as a great social safety net during recessions. What do you think happened to the tens of thousands of laid of central science park workers during the big downturn in 2008-09? Many went back to their parents' farms. Not much money but at least they were eating. As for sustainable, Taiwan produces enough rice for it's entire population. And I am sure it is doesn't need to import most vegetables either.


I grew up in a fishing, mining and agricultural area. I saw mining completely disappear (tin and granite), fishing is down to about 30% of it's fleet and farming is going the same way. I was taught agricultural studies at school but, none of us wanted to work on a farm. Not a lot of jobs left in Cornwall and below average wages for the jobs that do exist.

Looks like Taiwan is feeling that way. Trouble is Taiwan isn't the South West of England. Taiwan needs it's own food supply for the reasons others have quoted but, also as an export commodity. It would be silly to think there isn't a huge demand for food around the world. So many countries have taken the same approach, that you can import food. This means the countries left producing food are soon to be rich and could easily adopt the same approach and stop producing food, in favour of something else. Then what? Not enough food.

More and more of the world's population is living in the urban environment and less in the countryside and farmlands. I think this is a global mistake and those left producing food are going to be in high demand. I've also heard stories of bankers leaving the city with huge investments into 'super farms' knowing that the food crisis is not too far off. So Taiwan, keep growing the crops, keep it healthy and don't get greedy.
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Re: Just a farm house

Postby Enigma » 11 Feb 2012, 18:21

Opinions are fine but facts are better. Do a google for Taiwan rice imports and you will find that the actuality is that Taiwan is not now agriculturally self sufficient and can not be. Taiwan does import rice right now. Also almost all corn and all wheat. Sure, they have some orange and specialty apple/pear orchards but the true needs can not be met. I quick look at a map clearly shows that the arable land is already at a minimum. It will continue to decline as the need for jobs increase. Reality sucks but the reality is that Taiwan will eventually import most of their domestic needs and export of other products will increase. Food supply competition has indeed been a problem, even in the last few years, but competition takes care of the problem, even in the short term. The increase in technology exports will give Taiwan the leverage they need to avoid most shortcomings caused by price spikes.
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Re: Just a farm house

Postby Mucha Man » 11 Feb 2012, 18:27

Enigma wrote:Opinions are fine but facts are better. Do a google for Taiwan rice imports and you will find that the actuality is that Taiwan is not now agriculturally self sufficient and can not be. Taiwan does import rice right now. Also almost all corn and all wheat. Sure, they have some orange and specialty apple/pear orchards but the true needs can not be met. I quick look at a map clearly shows that the arable land is already at a minimum. It will continue to decline as the need for jobs increase. Reality sucks but the reality is that Taiwan will eventually import most of their domestic needs and export of other products will increase. Food supply competition has indeed been a problem, even in the last few years, but competition takes care of the problem, even in the short term. The increase in technology exports will give Taiwan the leverage they need to avoid most shortcomings caused by price spikes.


Taiwan is also an exporter of rice and despite what you write about arable land at a minimum, the country has several hundred thousand hectares of fallow land. Farmers are paid not to grow rice on this land though some are now being paid to grow it just to make rural areas look pretty. The subsidies are basically the same so it's not as dumb an idea as you think.

You may be right but simply tossing out that you did a cursory Google search is hardly compelling. As far as I know taiwan was self-sufficient in rice for decades until it entered the WTO. There is no reason it could not be again, giving the population is declining and rice consumption per capita is less.

The TT reports:

Currently, Taiwan’s general food self-sufficiency rate stands at 32 percent. Self-sufficiency for rice stands at 97 percent, and for vegetables and fruit, it is above 80 percent.
“Everywhere else in the world is also really old” said Prof. Liu, a renowned historian at Beijing University. “We always learn that China has 5000 years of cultural heritage, and that therefore we are very special. It appears that other places also have some of this heritage stuff. And are also old. Like, really old.”

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Re: Just a farm house

Postby Enigma » 11 Feb 2012, 18:39

I respect your opinion but calling my research cursory is a bit unfair. How many cornfields and wheat fields have you seen? And, the fact is, contrary to other opinion, Taiwan DOES import about 10% of their rice and the amount grows annually. My opinion stands and, as I'm sure, does yours.
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Re: Just a farm house

Postby Mucha Man » 11 Feb 2012, 18:45

Enigma wrote:I respect your opinion but calling my research cursory is a bit unfair. How many cornfields and wheat fields have you seen? And, the fact is, contrary to other opinion, Taiwan DOES import about 10% of their rice and the amount grows annually. My opinion stands and, as I'm sure, does yours.


I don't know if you read the end of my last post. Taiwan is still almost self-sufficient in rice production and isn't completely because it purposely has let fields go fallow or directed farmers to grow other crops. That said, no one disputes that we import all our wheat and soybeans and most of our corn (for feed, lots is grown for personal consumption). But I never made such a claim. I said rice and veggies.

There is lots and lots of farmland available. Shortsightedly it is being torn up for bogus "science parks" and other dubious projects.
“Everywhere else in the world is also really old” said Prof. Liu, a renowned historian at Beijing University. “We always learn that China has 5000 years of cultural heritage, and that therefore we are very special. It appears that other places also have some of this heritage stuff. And are also old. Like, really old.”

http://hikingintaiwan.blogspot.com/
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Just a farm house

Postby headhonchoII » 11 Feb 2012, 22:32

Since the WTO was signed and they allowed Thai and Californian rice to be imported the market price dropped severely. Some farmers have switched to taro as that gives a better monetary return but it involves more labour. Most farmers continue to grow rice as they know how to do that, it's pretty mechanized and easy, you just buy the seedlings and get contractors to plough the land, spray and fertilize and maintain yourself and then hire another contractor to harvest. They can still make a profit although obviously not like before.
There are obviously many other types of farmers here too, fish farming is huge. Next time you fly into Taoyuan airport look down at Taoyuan county, you will see it is covered with fish farms. The West coast area of Taiwan is covered in them but they have caused a lot of damage. Same with fruit farming.

Taiwan is pretty amazing in the variety of stuff grown here.

So the story is nuanced, more farming in Taiwan is not necessarily a good thing, they use a lot of chemicals and water and cause pollution.

In addition, farming something like rice will always be difficult to compete on due to small land area of Taiwan and the way the farms are divided into small patches. However some areas can get good money for their rice like the Huadong rift valley.

Visit Cambodia or Thailand or California and see the vast plains they farm rice on, it doesn't make sense for Taiwanese farmers to directly try and compete with that.
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Re: Just a farm house

Postby finley » 11 Feb 2012, 23:41

I respect your opinion but calling my research cursory is a bit unfair. How many cornfields and wheat fields have you seen? And, the fact is, contrary to other opinion, Taiwan DOES import about 10% of their rice and the amount grows annually. My opinion stands and, as I'm sure, does yours.

As HH points out, Taiwan imports rice (mostly from the US) because they can't compete with the heavily-subsidized US product. Taiwan doesn't need it, and it's markedly inferior, but they're basically doing it to keep the peace. Ten years ago you didn't see foreign rice on supermarket shelves - maybe one brand of Thai rice if you were lucky.

As for wheat - it isn't grown here because it's not suited to the climate, and very inefficient in terms of land use (~3 tonnes/ha). Maize is pretty adaptable and common in Taiwan, but it's basically a temperate-zone crop. Besides, American wheat is subsidized to about US$180/tonne (I believe maize subsidies have been cut recently). It makes no sense at all to attempt to grow such things in Taiwan. Just out of curiosity, I did actually plant a few square meters of wheat last month as ground cover. It's doing fine so far, but I fully expect to just mow it down. If it does ripen without rotting in the rain or dying in the April heat, I'll post an update :)
the actuality is that Taiwan is not now agriculturally self sufficient and can not be

Personally I think the big-farmhouse thing should be positively encouraged - with the proviso that the law should be enforced regarding minimum cultivation area. If we assume 2/3 of Taiwan's land area is unsuitable for human settlement (which it is) there would still be enough for every single family to own 1000m2, which is enough to comfortably feed three people and sustainably dispose of their wastes. Forested areas could probably also be carefully managed to deliver a food yield. I'm not suggesting we should all be self-sufficient (it's horribly inefficient) but if there were a market in place to make small-scale farming productive, as in Cuba for example, there are plenty of people who seem to aspire to that kind of life.
The increase in technology exports will give Taiwan the leverage they need to avoid most shortcomings caused by price spikes

What technology exports? Most of Taiwan's consumer gadgets are still just copies of foreign brands, and the technology sector in general is falling further and further behind other countries. The good stuff comes from the US, Japan, Korea, Germany, and (surprisingly) Israel. All made in China, of course. Even China is coming up with some good designs in esoteric markets (telecommunications, for example).
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Re: Just a farm house

Postby headhonchoII » 13 Feb 2012, 11:59

The big farmhouse thing sure is a joke when you have factories still surrounded by pockets of farmland here. It's such a non issue.
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And I can still hear my old hound dog barkin' chasin' down a hoodoo there
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Re: Just a farm house

Postby ChewDawg » 13 Feb 2012, 12:14

headhonchoII wrote:Farmers get very little support in Taiwan with a pension of 6,000 NTD per month. If they can make a few bob by selling their land that's good for them. The government decided it wanted to join the WTO and mess up the farmers liveliehoods without adaquate compensation and give the benefit to other exporters.


Do you think the Taiwan government should subsidize farmers more than that for their pensions? I certainly don't think so. How did Taiwan joining the WTO mess up the farmers' livelihoods? Taiwan had to cut tariffs to join but it can still charge relatively high tariffs and be WTO compliant! If products are that weak that consumers would rather pay the same or moderately higher prices for imported products then the farmers probably shouldn't be propped up by the state or in business for that matter in the first place!!! On the plus side, if Taiwan farm products are good, they are now able to export to more markets. Joining such organizations only puts fear into people that are uncompetitive. Tough shit. They should find another occupation then. Perhaps opening a kindy school and employing Engrishy teachers! :D
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