The Rising Stars of Taiwan's Agricultural Sector
With strong competition in world markets, the development of specialty agriculture, improvement of product quality and increase of output value have become the key components of Taiwan's "blue ocean" strategy for its agricultural sector. Taiwan's dense population, limited space and family structure have been key factors contributing to Taiwan's small-scale farming style. The operators of resulting small-scale farms face tough price competition from the larger-scale operations found in the United States and Australia. Thus, developing high added value produces is crucial for the future of Taiwan's agricultural sector, so the following strategies will be Taiwan's golden goose in the future.
The organic farming sector is expected to reach an annual output value of NT$74 billion by 2012. With LOHAS (Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability) becoming a trend in Taiwan, consumers want to establish safe and healthy eating habits and have grown more concerned about their food’s safety. Safe, healthy and high-quality products, toxin-free products to organic agricultural produces , surely will create huge business opportunities. To safeguard consumer's rights and safety, the Council of Agriculture (COA) has implemented agricultural product certification systems such as “Good Agricultural Practice (GAP)” fruits and vegetables, “Certified Agricultural Standards (CAS) ” products, traceability product , as well as and organic Awards . The COA estimates that Taiwan's GAP, organic and traceability product sectors will attain an annual output value of NT$74 billion by 2010. The Council of Agriculture, in cooperation with farmers and consumers, is confident that Taiwan can be transformed into a toxin-free island in the future.
The "agricultural excellence" program focuses on the development of agricultural biotechnology. Many people consider agriculture to be a sunset industry, but with the injection of high technology and the development of new technology , the agricultural sector can write a new chapter. As a result of this initiative, it is expected that agricultural biotechnology will join the financial and high-tech industries as one of the country's star industries.
The flower industry, for example, is one of the industries with the greatest potential. Taiwan is known as the "Kingdom of Orchids" worldwide and phalaenops (butterfly orchids), flamingo flowers and Oncidium are the country's top three exported flowers. The volume of floral seedling exports, exceeding 10 million per year, proves that Taiwan is a major player in the world flower industry, and its quality is confirmed by the fact that Japan is the top importer of Taiwanese cut flowers.
To help spread agricultural biotechnology industry development in the country, the Council has not only established the "Agricultural Biotechnology Information Center" Web site but also the "Pingtung Agricultural Biotechnology Park." The development of the park is aimed at creating a biotechnology cluster, expanding the overall scale of the biotechnology industry, generating more job opportunities and boosting the agricultural sector.
"LOHAS"-- leisure agriculture in Taiwan
The rise of leisure agriculture in Taiwan can be attributed to trendy recreational lifestyles and ecological awareness. Based on these trends, crop production is no longer the main source of money for farm owners. The owners of various theme farms provide tourists farming experiences such as picking fresh fruit and ecological education, hoping that these experiences and activities become a favorite family pastime. In addition, tours like flower, firefly and whale watching have gained popularity in Taiwan. The annual flower blossom festivals in Taichung's Sinshou and the East Rift Valley, for example, always lure thousands of tourists.
While leisure agriculture has attracted increasing numbers of tourists, specialty agricultural products make great gifts for consumers to purchase and boost the industry's profits. The development of these "boutique" products aims to showcase the innovation, design and characteristics of local specialties. Products presented in the top 100 agricultural and fishery goods fair, which is held annually by COA, have shown great improvement in quality and packaging. According to the COA, the annual output value of boutique agricultural products, including liquor, top-quality rice, bamboo products, and high-end fish and animal products, will reach NT$12.3 billion by 2012. In addition, 4,500 job opportunities will be created by the industry in four years, the COA said. Moreover, the COA hopes to improve the competitiveness of leisure farming by taking advantage of the development of recreational farms and boutique agricultural products.
With the government's sound policy , public support and farmers' efforts, the agricultural sector will no longer be considered a sunset industry. To diversify Taiwan's agricultural sector, more marketing and research talent is needed. With the improvement of such talent, the agricultural sector will make Taiwan more prosperous again and at the same time expand the new international markets for Taiwan's agricultural products .