The Taitung County Government has allowed growers of organic rice to burn straw to drive out black bug infestation in Guanshan Township (關山).
The traditional method of fighting insects with fire and smoke, which has been banned over air pollution concerns, was conditionally revived to protect the second crop of rice from the bugs, the county government wrote in a news release on Saturday.
Starting on Monday, organic farmers, who cannot use pesticides, were permitted to burn straw in their fields between 8am and 5pm every day until the end of the month, it said.
An estimated 220 million bugs have eaten 70 percent of the affected area’s crops this year, Taitung Agriculture Department Director Hsu Chia-hao (許家豪) said.
The bugs — which have infested 110 hectares of rice paddies supplying the Zi-yuan Rice Husking Factory — were first observed in the second harvest last year, he said.
Synthetic pesticides would have been highly effective under normal circumstances, but the affected farmers cannot utilize them due to organic certification rules, Hsu said, adding that organic cures did not show promising results during testing.
Bonfires were authorized following reports that the bug population is increasing 20-fold per season, he said.
Burning straw in the fields would disrupt the reproductive cycle of the insects and reduce their population, he said.
However, the department is working on a better long-term solution, Hsu added.
Local farmers must obtain a permit before burning straw, he said, adding that only those who have an organic farming certification for more than 50 hectares would be eligible.
The permits would also need to be signed by the township office and the local farmers’ association, he said.
Anyone who burns straw without a permit, outside the assigned time or within 50m of Provincial Highway No. 9, would be prosecuted, Hsu said.
RISK FACTORS: ‘We hope people can cooperate and endure it ... it is possibly the very important last mile,’ Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung said Taiwan’s COVID-19 restrictions and mask regulations are to remain the same next month, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday. The center reported 42,112 new local COVID-19 cases and 85 deaths, saying that the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients has dropped to a new low this month. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the CECC, said that the center is keeping COVID-19 restrictions and mask regulations the same due to the local virus situation, and an increase in the number of imported cases of the new Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 of SARS-CoV-2, among other risk factors. Easing
TRAVEL CONFERENCE: Representatives from the two countries exchanged views on how to increase tourist numbers, with one identifying individual travel as a trend Taiwan and South Korea aim to increase the number of tourists traveling between the two countries to 3 million, government and tourism industry representatives said at a conference in Hsinchu City yesterday. The annual event was attended by Deputy Minister of Transportation and Communications Chen Yen-po (陳彥伯); Tourism Bureau Director-General Chang Shi-chung (張錫聰); Taiwan Visitors Association chairwoman Yeh Chu-lan (葉菊蘭); South Korean Representative to Taiwan Chung Byung-won; Yoon Ji-sook, an official at the South Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism; and Korea Association of Travel Agents chairman Oh Chang-hee. Global tourism is expected to soon rebound to between 55 and
The Taichung District Court yesterday sentenced to nine years in prison an unlicensed judo coach who caused the death of a seven-year-old student after slamming him onto the ground more than a dozen times. In its decision against the coach, a man surnamed Ho (何), the court cited his lack of remorse for using excessive force against an inadequately trained child and his failure to reconcile with the parents for his role in their son’s death. Speaking on behalf of the boy’s mother, Taichung City Councilor Jacky Chen (陳清龍) said the family would appeal to a higher court. Prosecutors said that Ho on
DAMAGE CONTROL: The KMT in a statement called the Taiwan Strait ‘international waters,’ after Alexander Huang said China had the right to claim it as internal waters Lawmakers and experts yesterday accused the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) envoy to the US Alexander Huang (黃介正) of acting as China’s stooge, after he said that Beijing has the right to claim waters beyond its maritime territory as its exclusive economic zone and that the US has no legal basis to assert that the Taiwan Strait is an “international waterway.” Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Wang Ting-yu (王定宇) said in an online post that most of the world considers the Strait an international waterway, adding that this is important for safeguarding Taiwan. “We have seen US warships transiting through the Taiwan Strait.