Taipei--A program launched in Taiwan's Miaoli City to encourage people to farm has received very good responses from the public, with 769 residents vying for 311 chances to win a plot of land from the local government to grow their own food.
Lots were drawn Thursday to decide the lucky winners.
Sun Chun-ming (???), a city government official, said each of the winners is entitled to a 6.6 square-meter plot for two years, and the Miaoli City Office will provide them with fertilizer made from kitchen scraps every six months.
The city office will also offer them two hours of lessons to help them draw up their farming plan, Sun said.
Many of the participants said they were attracted to the program because they were scared by the various food safety scandals that have occurred time after time in Taiwan. They also complained about vegetable prices that can sometimes soar to intolerable levels.
Growing vegetables by themselves can ensure the food they eat is pesticide-free while helping them save on household spending, they said.
In recent years, there have been more such efforts by the local and central governments to encourage people to farm. That's partly because Taiwan's food self-sufficiency - the amount of food its people consume that is produced locally and not imported - has dropped from 56 percent in 1984 to around 30 percent in recent years.
That is considered low, and is lower than the percentage in neighboring countries such as South Korea and Japan.