Friday, March 16
Nicole Hasheider, Tim Wolfe, & Clay Zwilling – Presiding Fellows
The Class of 2018 kicked off its final day of the international seminar at the National Pingtung University of Science and Technology. This university is located in southern Taiwan where most of the agriculture industry is located. Approximately 10,000 students attend Pingtung University, with nearly half of those studying agriculture. Within the agriculture division, they offer a four-year bachelor’s and a two-year masters program. Additionally, special interest is placed on internship and real-world experiences. Dr. Chen, Dean of the College of Agriculture, greeted the group upon arrival. The class then was given a tour of the school farm. Across 500 sprawling hectacres, the university farm has dairy and beef cattle, horses, goats, dogs and hogs. Highlights included a biomass generator that uses methane from the manure generated by the livestock to provide power to the farm, a 100-head dairy operation that milks twice per day, and a swine unit that includes 100 sows. Special emphasis is placed on biosecurity for both the animals and human visitors. Much like the land grant universities in the United States, Pingtung focuses on research, teaching and extension.
Our second stop for the day was the District Agricultural Research and Extension Staging (DARES). This 55 hectare research station seeks to improve production of the region’s main crop products, including rice, soybeans, and a variety of fruits and vegetables. The center was established in 1903 and provides germplasm to not only Taiwan but to other countries in Southeast Asia with similar tropical and subtropical climates.
Class members had a chance to sample jujubes, a fruit that looks like an apple and tastes like a cross between an apple and a pear. DARES scientists helped develop improved varieties of the fruit, making it larger and sweeter. One jujube sells for approximately $3 (U.S) in Taiwan, as well in the countries where the fruit is exported, including China, Hong Kong, Canada and Singapore.
Beyond jujubes, the class members visited experimental plots of other tropical fruit trees, including mango, guava, wax apples and litchi. Tropical fruit wasn’t the only agriculture found at the center – the center also had crops more familiar to Illinois, corn and soybeans.
The center also specializes in breeding improvements for ornamental flowers, which many class members enjoyed seeing.
Following lunch, the class visited the Pingtung Agricultural Biotechnology Park. The biotech park is a world renowned professional agricultural science park covering 840 acres. The Taiwanese Ministry of Agriculture created the science-based environment to promote collaboration for research and development. Dr. Susan Chang met with us at their headquarters and gave us an overview of their park.
After the presentation, Dr. Chang and her staff took our group for a tour of some of the park’s tenants. We learned about many different bio-technologies, including biotech aquaculture.