TAIPEI–The estimated agricultural losses caused by a cold spell that hit Taiwan last weekend have increased to NT$1.75 billion (US$52.21 million) as of 5 p.m. Thursday, setting a new record for the past 17 years, according to the Council of Agriculture (COA).
The aquaculture sector suffered the biggest losses, estimated at NT$1.527 billion, with fish farms that produce milkfish, groupers, tilapia, oriental clams and perch being the hardest hit, the COA said.
The agricultural damage nationwide totaled NT$246.69 million, with some 4,313 hectares of crops destroyed, according to the COA.
Among the hardest hit crops were grapes, strawberries, tangerines, ornamental flowers and bell fruit, it said, adding that some 342 hectares of vineyards were damaged by the cold, with losses amounting to NT$43.44 million.
Damage to agricultural facilities, meanwhile, reached NT$3.78 million, and animal husbandry losses stood at NT$630,000, according to COA estimates.
Among Taiwan’s cities and counties, the southern city of Kaohsiung sustained the heaviest losses of NT$820.91 million, followed by Tainan City with losses of NT$522.55 million, Chiayi County with NT$126.75 million, Yunlin County with NT$76.51 million, Miaoli County with NT$47.09 million and Changhua County with NT$46.59 million, the COA statistics show.
Temperatures dropped from 16 degrees Celsius on Friday afternoon to just 4 degrees on Sunday — a 44-year low. The cold snap caught many people by surprise because this winter is relatively warm, with December temperatures being the second warmest since record keeping began a century ago.