Dilemmas and challenges in Taiwan’s agriculture

Neszmélyi, György Iván

Keywords: Taiwan, regional integration, agricultural policy, Q17, R11, N75

The aim of the paper is to provide the reader with a comprehensive overview on the state of the Taiwanese agricultural sector and of the problems of local rural society. The fundamentals of Taiwan’s spectacular economic success were laid down by the export-oriented industrial sectors while the agriculture faced problems of efficiency and competitiveness. In case of Taiwan only a small part of the land is arable, moreover due to historic reasons farmers work on small-size farmlands, therefore, except for rice they are unable to meet the food demands of the population. Hence, Taiwan needs significant imports from all other crops and foodstuffs.
After the Second World War, during the 1950’s decade a comprehensive land reform took place in Taiwan on the basis of „Land to the Tiller” principle. In fact, those people who were tenants of the former latifundial system, the actual tillers became landowners. However, by economic policy considerations agriculture later became subordinated behind the export-oriented sectors. The agriculture could not play substantial and direct role in the take-off and prosperity in the 1970s.
Then role of agriculture was – and still is – to contribute to the domestic food supply, and only a few products are exported. Its contribution to the GDP is low as well as its ration in the total employment. The previous governments did not pay too much attention to develop the agricultural sector, however during the recent years there are some positive signs. Instead of pushing forward to the international competition in terms of quantities or prices, Taiwanese agriculture strives for the quality-oriented development. There are a few risks and challenges the Taiwanese agriculture must face and tackle, like the ageing of the rural society, the outbound migration from rural areas, the disparity between the urban and rural households, the constantly shrinking arable lands and the excessive outflow of Taiwanese FDI, especially the agriculture of mainland China moreover the changing food consumption patterns.

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