Thursday, June 22, 2006

TAIWAN'S FIRST RICE-TRADING CENTER INAUGURATED

2006-06-22 by Elizabeth Hsu

Taipei, June 22 (CNA) Taiwan's first rice-trading center was inaugurated and began its first day of operations Thursday at the Agriculture and Food Agency's (AFA) southern regional office in Tainan City.

Trading at the new facility will emphasize the quality and safety of rice, instead of the weight -- the traditional way of rice-trading on the island, AFA Director-General Huang Yu-tsai said in his address at the inauguration ceremony.

Weight has been key, or sometimes the only reference for traders to buy crops from growers, while the government guarantees the price of NT$21 per kilogram of rice as part of efforts to maintain a stable rice market, Huang explained.

However, at the new rice-trading center, more information including type of rice strain, name of grower and safety guarantees will be available for traders' reference.

Huang said he expects quality-oriented rice trading to replace that of weight-oriented trade.

A rice farmer participating in Thursday's opening expressed support for the rice center's establishment, a venue where he said he had gained a profit twice that of the production area.

The center is the first of four such planned facilities by the Council of Agriculture, with others to be constructed in Taiwan's northern, central and eastern regions, respectively.

Trading at the southern regional rice center will be conducted once every two weeks, with each grower obliged to auction at least 30 tons of rice, while the bidder has to purchase at least five tons of rice per bid, according to the Tainan center.

On the center's first day of operations, a total of 13 trading transactions were completed, with "dream beauty" rice grown in Houpi Township, Tainan County, selling at the day's highest price -- NT$160,000 per ton -- or three times that of other brands of high-quality rice on the market.

According to the AFA, "dream beauty" is a crop of rice bred under a contract of Japanese traders. The rice will be exported to Japan in July and marketed there in small packages.

It is rare to see rice exported to Japan in small packages from other rice-producing countries, AFA officials noted.

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