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Government Plans Development of Five Bio-Agricultural Parks

Jun 27, 2008 | By CENS

The Council of Agriculture (COA) has earmarked NT$1.47 billion (US$474.19 million at NT$31:US$1) for the establishment of five bio-agricultural parks designed to boost Taiwan's biotechnology industry and help transform traditional agriculture into bio-agriculture.

The five parks are the Pingtung Agricultural Biotechnology Park, Changhua National Center for Flower-Breed Development, Taiwan Orchid Plantation Park, Chiayi Spice and Herb Biological Technology Park, and Yilan Marine Biotechnology Park. Together, the five will employ an estimated 17,000 people and generate a projected NT$29 billion (US$935.48 million) in production value in 2012. That same year, the bio-agricultural industry in Taiwan as a whole is predicted to have a production value of more than NT$71 billion (US$2.29 billion). Worldwide, the figure is expected to reach US$500 billion that year.

Observers believe that the five parks will give a strong shot in the arm to Taiwan's bio-agricultural industry, and that they will help stimulate business in the areas around them.

Sun Chih-li, director of the Biotechnology Industry Study Center of the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research (TIER), notes that Taiwan is quite strong in agricultural technology and that its food industry is also quite mature, which can boost the development of the domestic bio-agricultural industry. Sun predicts that the output of Taiwan's bio-agricultural industry will reach NT$53 billion (US$1.71 billion) this year.

In addition to the five parks, the Executive Yuan (Cabinet) recently approved a venture project aiming at the development of agricultural biotechnology in the fields of plant seeds, breeding animals, marine breeding, biotech foods, animal-use vaccines, biotech pesticides, fertilizers, and testing reagents.

Agricultural biotechnology can already be seen in many daily products such as toothpaste, shampoo, bath oil, facial masks, health foods, anti-cancer medicines, and garments. The COA recently transferred technology for the extraction of collagen from fish scales to the Taiwan Fertilizer Co., which will use it for making facial masks. The market value of the technology is estimated at more than NT$30 million (US$967,742), and the facial masks to be produced from it are expected to be on the market by the end of this year.

Taiwan Fertilizer has already invested NT$60-70 million (US$1.94-2.26 million) in the development of collagen products, for which it will need 40,000 tons of fish scales per year. Thanks to the promising market, this will bring fortune to the island's fishermen and to Taiwan Fertilizer itself.

Last year the COA raked in fees amounting to about NT$33.77 million (US$1.09 million) for the transfer of more than 70 items of technology. Five years ago, the take was a mere NT$1 million (US$32,258).

This year COA has a total budget of NT$3.9 billion (US$125.81 million), and two thirds of which was launched in 16 reforming farms for developing new bio-agricultural technology. Next year the government's budget for COA will expand to NT$4.4 billion (US$141.94 million).

In another success story, the COA's Taiwan Forestry Research Institute recently perfected a process for extracting taxine from the Taiwan yew, and transferred the technology to a domestic enterprise at a price of NT$3 million (US$96,774). Insiders explain that taxine is used in cancer medicines, and that its global market value is estimated at scores of billions of dollars.

Taiwan's 5 New Bio-agricultural Parks

Park

Investment (NT$B)

Area (hectares)

Major Products

Pingtung Agricultural Biotechnology Park

8.3

340

Plant seeds, animal breeding, marine breeding, etc.

Changhua National Center for Flower-Breed Development

0.808

81

Flower

Taiwan Orchid Plantation Park

2.06

200

Orchid

Chiayi Spice and Herb Biological Technology Park

1.5

86

Herb, health foods

Yilan Marine Biotechnology Park

2

262

Fish, marine foods

Source: COA

Estimated Production Value of Taiwan's Bio-agricultural Industry in 2008

Operation

No. of operators

Production value (NT$B)

Ratio (%)

Major products

Plant seeds

15

5.27

10.9

Orchids

Marine breeding

8

7.18

14.9

Fish

Animal vaccine

6

1.08

2.2

Vaccine for foot-and-mouth disease

Livestock biotech

13

1.58

3.3

Animal feeds

Biotech foods

41

19.4

40

Collagen, health foods

Biotech fertilizer

14

1.81

3.8

Fertilizer

Biotech pesticide

10

1.17

2.4

Pesticide

Others

11

10.77

22.3

--

Source: TIER


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