Sun, Nov 19, 2017 - Page 3 News List

API contest to spark ‘smart’ farming

‘FARM HACKATHON’:The design contest aims to help contestants find technological solutions to problems in the agriculture sector and to draw on non-farmers’ expertise

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

Agricultural losses last year reached a record high of nearly NT$28 billion (US$930.2 million), which highlights the sector’s need for better management through “smart” technology, a Council of Agriculture (COA) official told a forum in Taipei yesterday.

The forum, which was held at Taipei’s Syntrend Creative Park (三創園區), promoted the council’s “farm hackathon” — an application programming interface (API) design contest taking place from Dec. 9 to 10 at the Taipei Co-Space (臺北創新實驗室) in the city’s Neihu District (內湖).

The nation’s farmland has become largely fragmented and there are still many problems hampering farmland protection, API engineer Huang Hsiao-hua (黃小華) said, citing Yilan County Acting Commissioner Derek Chen’s (陳金德) criticism of high taxation for structures built on farmland in that county.

The 300 open databases provided by the council for the hackathon provide a good opportunity for people to propose changes in the agriculture sector, Huang added.

The goal is for contestants to come up with a good idea within the time frame, even though the idea might only be a rough prototype, Cool3c Media founder Wu Hsien-er (吳顯二) said.

The agricultural sector needs more input from information and communication technology to shape an industry grounded on “systems of systems,” said Taiwan Agricultural Research Institute Deputy Director-General Tsai Chih-jung (蔡致榮), who also spoke at the forum.

Participants at the forum raised questions and shared their opinions.

“Many urban dwellers in Taipei, such as engineers, designers, hackers and entrepreneurs, who might never have visited a farm, also hope to help farmers, but they don not know where to start,” one audience member said.

Many young people hope to make the nation better through their actions, which is why the Sunflower movement occurred in 2014 and why other social movements continue to occur, one event staff member said.

Chen Hsin-hao (陳新豪), an engineer who became a fruit farmer in Nantou’s Buli Township (埔里), said farmers need precise forecasts of microclimate phenomena.

Chen employs his experience with big data analysis to get a grasp on environmental changes, such as levels of moisture in the air and wind direction, which gives him more control over plant growth, he said.

His farm, which covers about 1 hectare, has become an ecosystem for precious species, such as the endemic Pararasbora moltrechti fish species, he said.

The API design contest has invited judges from various institutions, such as Institute for Information Industry Digital Service Innovation director Ho Wei-kuang (何偉光) and Senao International Co vice president Chang Tien-hung (張鈿浤).

Online applications are to be accepted until Sunday next week, event organizers said, adding that they expect the contest to attract up to 200 participants.

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