Thu, Apr 19, 2018 - Page 4 News List

COA develops image testing system for seeds

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

Taiwan Seed Improvement and Propagation Station director Chang Ting-lin, second right, and some colleagues display high-quality seeds while promoting seed exports at a news conference in Taipei on Tuesday.

Photo: CNA

The Council of Agriculture (COA) said it has developed a “smart” image recognition system to differentiate rice seeds of varying quality, which is expected to be operational next year.

Seed trade can earn the nation annual revenue of about US$300 million, COA Taiwan Seed Improvement and Propagation Station Director Chang Ting-lin (張定霖) said on Tuesday.

A poll released by MarketsandMarkets in 2014 has estimated that the global market for seeds should reach US$92.04 billion by 2020, he said.

The nation’s domestic vegetable seed exports amounted to US$18 million last year, with cauliflower, muskmelon, watermelon, papaya and cherry tomato seeds being most popular, he said.

Southeast Asian nations and China are the target markets for Taiwanese seed breeders, but Chinese firms have become more competitive in the global seed market in the past decade, he said.

Tasked with seed research and production, the station is located in Taichung’s Sinshe District (新社).

Last year, the station developed an image recognition system to differentiate rice seeds, which it targeted because they make up half of its testing work, Chang said.

The system is being tested, but should be ready next year, by which time the station would have uploaded the system’s data onto its cloud servers to be used as a reference for seed breeders and retailers, he said.

To improve their quality control, local seed breeders and agricultural businesses are encouraged to apply to have their seeds tested at the station, Chang said, adding it has the nation’s only International Seed Testing Association (ISTA)-certified laboratory.

The station charges NT$1,000 for a soybean seed sample and NT$4,000 for a corn seed sample, the latter being costlier as corn seeds can be used to produce more products, said Chang Hui-ju (張惠如), an associate researcher in the station’s biotechnology section.

In addition to better quality management, crop exporters can also avoid trade barriers if they possess ISTA certificates, she said.

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