Land Grabbing in Taiwan: The Crisis of Food Security and Land Justice

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 4:20 PM
Room: Booth 61
Oral Presentation
Pei-Hui TSAI , Graduate Institute for Social Transformation Studies, Shih Hsin University, Taiwan
Yi-Ting CHUNG , National Cheng Kung University, Taiwan
Yu-Hua CHEN , National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan
Since the 1980s Taiwan had adopted liberalism economic policy and given up the principle of food self-sufficiency. The importance of agriculture had decreased and the land had been seen as valuable asset rather than the means of production. These changes together contribute an over-dependence on imported food in the local market and the loss of food sovereignty of the consumers and farmers. As a result, the food self-sufficiency rate has been extremely low in Taiwan (33%), far lower than China (95%), France (122%), the U.S. (128%), and even Japan (40%). In recent years, the implementation of neo-liberalism in agricultural policy has further worsened the practices of farming and the ways of land use in the rural areas. Since several local governments aim to promote rapid development in the high-tech industry, many farmers and rural residents have been forced to leave their farmland and assets. Over the past decade, Taiwan has consequently lost 4,000 hectares of farmland per year and totally lost 109,652 hectares in the last 30 years equated around 12% of farmland. In reality, the legalized land exploitation which in the name of scientific and industrial park and various developmental projects could be seen as a new form of land grabbing. In this paper, we present two case studies and explore how the recent land exploitation has changed the agricultural practices and social context in the rural areas and the long-term effect on the food security of the whole society. The two cases cover the events and outcomes which have happened in Dapu District of Miaoli County and Siangsihliao of Changhua County, the former representing the form of anti-land-grabbing and the latter of as anti-water-grabbing one. Finally, we will attempt to discuss the impact of land grabbing on the food security and the possible citizenship aspires to food sovereignty.