TAIPEI–The Ministry of Economic Affairs (�g�ٳ�) announced Wednesday that it will stop supplying water needed to irrigate the first plantings of rice paddies in two parts of Taiwan because of the mounting water shortage around the country.
The decision was made at a meeting of a task force on fighting the drought, which was convened by Deputy Economics Minister Cho Shih-chao (���h�L).
Water Resources Agency (���귽��) Director-General Yang Wei-pu (�����j) said at the meeting that although there has been some rainfall this month, it did little to alleviate the water shortage, and action was needed to conserve water.
Participants at the meeting decided that water would no longer be supplied to 1,175 hectares of land near the Mingteh Reservoir in Miaoli County and 4,625 hectares of land along the northern shore of Taichung’s Taan River, Yang said.
The fallow rice paddies represent about 3.5 percent of all land in Taiwan dedicated to growing rice.
The water supply for households and for commercial or industrial use will not be affected, he added.
Farmers whose land will go fallow because of the water restrictions will receive NT$85,000 (US$2,715) per hectare in compensation, meaning the government will face a total compensation bill of around NT$430 million, Yang said.
Though the Central Weather Bureau predicted that there could be rainfall by the end of the month, Yang said another meeting on the drought will be held around Dec. 25 to discuss restricting water to other farming areas. Yang described the current dry spell as the worst in a decade, noting that Taiwan previously imposed water supply restrictions on large areas of rice paddies because of drought in 2004.
��The water shortage this time is similar to what happened then,�� Yang said, adding that if the areas covered by Chia-Nan Irrigation Association (in Chiayi and Tainan) is included in the ne xt meeting, the acreage of the affected areas could surpass that in 2004.
In view of the possible expansion of fallow areas, the Council of Agriculture is now assessing whether or not the measures will affect agriculture and food policy.
The initial assessment was that the food supply is stable and there will be little effect on stored food.