In Taiwan it is customary to hand out scallions with purchases of vegetables, free, along with cilantro. With the typhoon and recent rains, onion prices have risen. Cheap scallions that went for NT$160/jin last week rose briefly to $600/jin before settling back to $350. The culprit? Organized crime. It seems gangsters have gone around the farms buying up onions to corner the market and drive prices up, according to reports in the local Chinese media. An article from the Liberty Times gives some background….

強颱海棠襲台 - 特別報導》

天啊!一根蔥30元 Good heavens! A bunch of scallions goes for $T30!

〔記者江志雄、林秀姿╱綜合報導〕才過一天,青蔥每公斤批發價 昨天又從兩百四十元漲到三百廿五元,零售價更從三百元漲到四百元,再創歷史新高, 平均一根就要三十元!

蔥,不過是餐桌上的小配角,不過現在盤子裡放幾個蔥花,就像是撒了一小堆銅板 ;小吃店老闆破口大罵,「夭壽,以前買菜送蔥,現在一根蔥比一顆大白菜還貴!」 excerpt: Onions are so expensive that sprinkling some on the dish is like sprinkling money on it.

台北農產運銷公司強調,預估青蔥還會再漲兩個月,民眾最好先以薑、蒜代替青蔥 去腥,若是小吃店、餐廳業者以蔥為主要料理食材,只好減量使用,否則會不敷成本。

台北農產運銷公司主任秘書陳忠男表示,六一二南台灣水災後,彰化青蔥全軍覆沒 ,全台灣的青蔥供應量全靠宜蘭三星地區,但是「海棠」橫掃宜蘭地區,雨勢驚人,超 過三成的青蔥田受損泡水,貨源短缺、品質又差,才會拉高菜價。 excerpt: With the rains in June wiping out the legions of onions in southern Taiwan and Changhua, Taiwan is dependent on the Sanhsing area in Yilan for its onion supplies.

七、八年前青蔥一度飆漲破兩百元,當時農委會曾經政策性指示由日本進口青蔥, 平抑台灣物價,但陳忠男表示,日本進口青蔥要價兩百元以上,而台灣青蔥漲價是短暫 現象,所以尚未接到進口青蔥、平抑物價的指示。

昨天全面搶收,三星農會送出的青蔥雖爆出大量,今天凌晨送到台北批發市場上的 三星蔥也只有十六點五噸,不過,未來三個月內,恐怕不是經常能有這麼多。

蔥農黃簡淵說,青蔥的生長期約要三到四個月,這次很多蔥田遭強風豪雨襲擊後, 青蔥陸續倒伏,如果再經烈日曝曬,很快就發黃枯死,他估計全鄉有三分之二面積受害 ,恐怕都要重新翻耕栽種,未來三個月內青蔥可能都還會供不應求。
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Other reports tell of policemen guarding fields to prevent theft, and under-the-table deals. Taiwan’s garlic trade is also heavily influenced by organized crime. As the Far Eastern Economic Review reported some years ago, the island cannot produce enough garlic to meet its needs, so the deficit is made up by smuggling from China.