Taiwan to help Nicaragua with port and irrigation plan

Managua (AFP) - Taiwan said Wednesday it will provide technical assistance to Nicaragua as the Central American nation works to develop a drought-fighting irrigation system and build a Caribbean port.

Taiwanese President Ma Ying-Jeou, who arrived in the country earlier in the day, said his Nicaraguan counterpart Daniel Ortega had requested help with a feasibility study for an agricultural irrigation plan.

At least 53 municipalities in the country's Pacific and north-central regions are frequently affected by drought that damages crops, dries up water sources and decimates livestock.

Ortega said that the irrigation project would next be presented to international organizations for finance discussion.

Agricultural production accounts for 18 percent of Nicaragua's GDP, with some 60 percent of that falling in the hands of small and medium-scale farmers.

Taiwan will also analyze the feasibility of constructing a port off Nicaragua's Caribbean coast, Ma said.

Ortega reiterated Nicaragua's commitment to Taiwan as it fights for UN recognition.

Nicaragua is one of a limited number of countries that have relations with Taiwan, which is regarded by Beijing as Chinese territory.