Sunday, 8 July 2012

Ecological agriculture seen as ideal for Taiwan

Taiwan is well-positioned to develop ecological agriculture, which uses organic farming methods to sustain the environment and people's health, foreign environmental advocates said recently.

Since Taiwan is known for its rich diversity in crops, it could capitalize on that to develop more indigenous produce types instead of relying on imported food, Greenpeace researchers said at an agriculture forum held in Taipei.

They said for instance, Taiwanese could look into ways to cultivate a wider variety of sweet potatoes to make the traditional snack -- commonly seen in Taiwan in the 1980s -- popular again.

"It's sad to see Taiwanese people lose their original eating habits, turning to French fries instead of fried sweet potatoes," said Greenpeace campaigner Wilhelmina Pelegrina.

Choosing local food would increase the chance for environmental-friendly agriculture because farmers could apply the knowledge they already have about the land to use simpler but more efficient farming methods, Pelegrina said.

She added that since indigenous food does not have to go through gigantic supply chains, it is more likely that people get fresh food directly from the farmers and reduce unnecessary storage at the malls that could cause waste once the food is expired.

In addition to building up farming capacity for the farmers, the organization explained, ecological agriculture is aimed at creating healthier supplier-customer relations and engaging more people to do good to the environment on a community basis.

"The spirit of ecological agriculture lies in that every one has a choice -- the choice of food and the choice of lifestyle," said Reyes Tirado, a scientist with the Greenpeace Research Laboratories based in the United Kingdom.

The government and local NGOs could facilitate efforts by working with the World Vegetable Center, a locally based international nonprofit institution, to spread the idea of environmental-friendly farming, Pelegrina suggested.

"We have already seen many interesting initiatives emerge among local farmers such as exchanging heirloom seeds and organizing farmers' market," Pelegrina said. "The next step is to further manage the system by learning from others."

(By Lee Hsin-Yin)
Original Article here

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