Tue, Jan 10, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Former president launches project to produce ‘wagyu’

By Hua Meng-ching and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Former president Lee Teng-hui, second right, inspects cattle pens at Shin Kong Chao Feng Ranch and Resort in Hualien County on Saturday.

Photo: Hua Meng-ching, Taipei Times

Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) has invested in a project to produce Japanese-style beef using Taiwanese cattle through experimental breeding techniques.

Lee, who has a doctorate in agricultural economics, said he is working with a biotechnology firm to raise 20 head of cattle on land rented from Shin Kong Chao Feng Ranch and Resort in Hualien County.

Lee said he hopes that the efforts will make domestic farming of “wagyu” possible within three years.

“I hope Taiwanese will have the chance to eat wagyu without importing it from Japan,” Lee said.

Lee and Lee Teng-hui Foundation secretary-general Wang Yan-chun (王燕軍) on Saturday went to the Hualien farm, spending one-and-a-half hours inspecting the cattle and their living conditions, diet and environment.

The foundation said Lee came up with the idea to breed wagyu after a trip to Japan’s Ishigaki Island in August last year, during which he was impressed by the quality of beef and resolved to produce Taiwanese beef of similar quality.

The foundation rented space from the ranch in September last year and established a research facility for studying breeding techniques.

Wang joined the facility as a researcher, while Japanese agricultural specialist Satoshi Nakamura was hired to assist with rearing the cattle.

The facility said it is raising cattle brought from Qingtiangang (擎天崗) ranch in Yangmingshan National Park, adding that it has hired agricultural professionals and ranch staff to take part in the project.

Ranch manager Chen Tai-ming (陳泰明) said the cattle were underweight when they were brought to Hualien, adding that the ranch’s focus is on fattening them up.

Chen said if breeding programs are successful the ranch might consider investing in breeding the cattle.

Lee said the project has invigorated him and the trip to the ranch was his second since he launched the project.

Chen said he felt fortunate Lee chose his ranch to host the breeding program.

Lee said he had visited the ranch as an agricultural specialist when he was much younger, adding that the land around the ranch was much less developed then.

At that time large stones were removed one at a time to develop the land, Lee said, adding that he has a special attachment to the land stemming from his involvement in clearing rocks in those years.

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