Thursday, March 15
Kenin Eubank, Kristen Ewing, & Joanna Litchfield – Presiding Fellows
Today is the tenth day in Southeast Asia for our class as we boarded the bus to leave the city of Taipei and make our way down the west side of Taiwan seeing the mountainous landscape in route to our first stop at the Tofu factory. The diversity of agriculture and intensity of land use was astounding to our class as every piece of arable land was in use right up to the roadsides and buildings. Once we made it to the Tofu Factory at Chung Feng we were greeted by the owner of the business to tour their 2 year old facility and witness the 6 step process of making dried Tofu. This plant specializes in making dried tofu for the purpose of extending their shelf life. This plant was a 120 employee factory that imports 6,600 metric tons of U.S Soybeans to develop their end product. This factory operates six days a week 24 hours a day to process the beans into tofu and in a given year they are equipped to produce roughly 4,400 metric tons of tofu of which some is imported back into the U.S. for consumption.
The group then made its way to the largest oilseed crusher in Taiwan, TTET Union Corporation. We received a very warm welcome from their president, ‘Leon’ Chen Chao-Liang and their manager of commodity trading, ‘Pat’ Lee Shou-Hao. TTET crushes about 60 million bushels of soybeans per year; about half are purchased from the U.S. and the other half from South America.
After our stop at TTET we headed to the World Vegetable Organization, also known as World Veg, and their Gene Bank. They hold the largest public collection of vegetable germ plasm in the world and distribute it. Founded in 1971, World Veg has over 400 employees who work with public and private entities to conduct research and promote health, resilience, and diversity. Their research outputs are global public goods. Most recently they have developed the golden tomato with increased beta carotene, which meets Vitamin A nutrient needs in a single fruit.
Tonight we will be staying in Tainan City before our last day of tours and visits tomorrow. We enjoyed a meal of chicken sandwiches and fried chicken legs on the bus provided by our tour guide as well as pizza and fellowship in the hotel.