Taiwan's Drought Pits Chip Makers Against Farmers

By Raymond Zhong4 days ago

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HSINCHU, Taiwan Chuang Cheng-dengs modest rice farm is a stones throw from the nerve center of Taiwans computer chip industry, whose products power a huge share of the worlds iPhones and other gadgets.

This year, Mr. Chuang is paying the price for his high-tech neighbors economic importance. Gripped by drought and scrambling to save water for homes and factories, Taiwan has shut off irrigation across tens of thousands of acres of farmland.

The authorities are compensating growers for the lost income. But Mr. Chuang, 55, worries that the thwarted harvest will drive customers to seek out other suppliers, which could mean years of depressed earnings.

The government is using money to seal farmers mouths shut, he said, surveying his parched brown fields.

Officials are calling the drought Taiwans worst in more than half a century. And it is exposing the enormous challenges involved in hosting the islands semiconductor industry, which is an increasingly indispensable node in the global supply chains for smartphones, cars and other keystones of modern life.

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