Premier Chen Cheng accepts a banner of appreciation for the land-to-the-tiller program.


In the days after Taiwan’s retrocession to the ROC, the farmland distribution and rental systems still favored large landowners over the majority tenant farmers. To eliminate unfair conditions, the government implemented a three-phase land reform program from 1949 to 1953, which introduced rent reduction measures, sold public land to farmers, and transferred land ownership from landlords to tenant farmers.

This land reform program was spearheaded by Premier Chen Cheng (photo center), then governor of Taiwan Province and later premier of the Executive Yuan. Chen supported the independent farmers and successfully raised their income and yield by reducing rent, leasing public land, and acquiring land from landowners. From 1949 to 1960, Taiwan’s rice paddy output rose by about 50 percent while farmer revenue increased more than three times.

This successful reform not only fulfilled the national ideal of equalization of land ownership but also laid a foundation for Taiwan’s subsequent industrial and economic boom.