Having frequent exchanges of ideas with many young atemoya growers in Taitung County, I have summarized their opinions into a few suggestions concerning the nation’s agricultural exports for the Council of Agriculture’s reference.
First, agricultural exports require teamwork. In the mid-1970s, Taiwan was praised as a “banana kingdom.” At the time, agricultural production and marketing were unified, and bananas were mainly sold to Japan through the Taiwan Province Fruit Marketing Cooperative, making up more than 90 percent of Japanese banana imports.
However, after the government in 2005 deregulated the export of bananas to Japan, the number of traders increased to more than 20 and there was vicious competition among them. The trade order was thrown into disarray and exports shrank as Taiwanese bananas were replaced by bananas from the Philippines.
The atemoya — known in Taiwan as pineapple sugar apples — grown in Taitung County faced a similar predicament in the past few years.
The fruit’s export to China relies on a dozen traders. Most of them are wholesalers for whom the fruit’s export is only a part-time job. They are opportunistic tricksters who compete behind the scenes. By Lunar New Year this year, the price for big fruit fell to NT$45 per jin (600g) — much lower than past prices of NT$85 per jin.
As export prices are controlled by middlemen, growers have nowhere to vent their frustration. Agricultural exports therefore need integrated sales and distribution channels.
Second, the authorities should help set up cold-storage networks and instruct growers on proper post-harvest processes. Planting and farming contribute 60 to 70 percent of the success of agricultural exports, but 30 to 40 percent relies on coordinating harvesting processes and transportation.
Thanks to Taiwan’s agricultural technologies, growers easily win the contest for the best freshly harvested products. However, it is a completely different matter after the products have made their way to consumers, as uneven quality affects competitiveness in international markets.
The atemoya distribution centers in Taitung County, for instance, are dispersed, so checking fruit and determining their quality is done manually.
Furthermore, local distribution centers often do not have sufficient cold-storage facilities and traders have to drive across the county to collect enough atemoyas to fill a 6.1m-long container. The fruit is then transported long distances. Without proper temperature control, freshness is compromised and sometimes the fruit cracks. The government’s most urgent task is to help solve the problem of distribution and build a cold-storage network.
Finally, the government should establish a Taiwanese fruit brand. By imposing strict quality control and management, the brand would symbolize high quality. It should be named “Taiwan” and mention the place of origin when necessary. Having a brand like “Taiwan Sugar Apples (Taitung)” and “Taiwan Bananas (Kaohsiung)” would achieve market segmentation and help distinguish Taiwanese fruit from foreign fruit.
As there is not enough land in Taiwan for large-scale planting, the only way to stand out is to have quality produce. For that, the government needs to work on improving new species, developing technologies, regulating pesticide use and product safety, integrating marketing channels and establishing a national brand to construct a comprehensive industry chain for the sustainable development of Taiwanese fruit.
Chen Chien-hsien is chairman of the Taitung County Sport Development Foundation and former secretary-general of the Taitung County Council.
Translated by Ho-ming Chang
With its passing of Hong Kong’s new National Security Law, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) continues to tighten its noose on Hong Kong. Gone is the broken 1997 promise that Hong Kong would have free, democratic elections by 2017. Gone also is any semblance that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) plays the long game. All the CCP had to do was hold the fort until 2047, when the “one country, two systems” framework would end and Hong Kong would rejoin the “motherland.” It would be a “demonstration-free” event. Instead, with the seemingly benevolent velvet glove off, the CCP has revealed its true iron
At the end of last month, Paraguayan Ambassador to Taiwan Marcial Bobadilla Guillen told a group of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators that his president had decided to maintain diplomatic ties with Taiwan, despite pressure from the Chinese government and local businesses who would like to see a switch to Beijing. This followed the Paraguayan Senate earlier this year voting against a proposal to establish ties with China in exchange for medical supplies. This constituted a double rebuke of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) diplomatic agenda in a six-month span from Taiwan’s only diplomatic ally in South America. Last year, Tuvalu rejected an
US President Donald Trump’s administration on Friday last week announced it would impose sanctions on the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, a vast paramilitary organization that is directly controlled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and has been linked to human rights violations against Uighurs and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang. The sanctions follow US travel bans against other Xinjiang officials and the passage of the US Hong Kong Autonomy Act, which authorizes targeted sanctions against mainland Chinese and Hong Kong officials, in response to Beijing’s imposition of national security legislation on the territory. The sanctions against the corps would be implemented
US President Donald Trump on Thursday issued executive orders barring Americans from conducting business with WeChat owner Tencent Holdings and ByteDance, the Beijing-based owner of popular video-sharing app TikTok. The orders are to take effect 45 days after they were signed, which is Sept. 20. The orders accuse WeChat of helping the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) review and remove content that it considers to be politically sensitive, and of using fabricated news to benefit itself. The White House has accused TikTok of collecting users’ information, location data and browsing histories, which could be used by the Chinese government, and pose