Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Taiwan looking toward a toxin-free future

In order to transform Taiwan into a “toxin-free” island, the Executive Yuan has allocated NT$24 billion (US$739 million) towards health excellence and high-end agriculture. At the same time, Taiwan’s green energy industries are also to receive a substantial boost with the news that the government plans to invest NT$45 billion (US$1.4 billion) to promote this sector. These major pledges of support within the past month for six major emerging industries demonstrate the government’s confidence that these sectors will be the engine of the island’s economic revitalization in the coming years.

Agricultural best practice

Taiwan is no different from other developed countries working toward a more sustainable and eco-friendly future. A big part of promoting this practice centers on education, certification, and labeling of Taiwan’s agricultural products. The Council of Agriculture (COA) is working to promote healthy agriculture through deepening brand accreditation, promoting “Good Agriculture Practice” (GAP), product traceability and organic farming.

Currently, Taiwan has about 25,000 hectares (61,750 acres) covered by its “Certified Agricultural Standards” (CAS) program, which deals with traceability and organic farming. Last year, CAS cultivation accounted for 3 percent of the island’s cultivable land. By 2012, the government hopes the program will cover 50,000 hectares (123,500 acres), boosting production to NT$76 billion (US$2.3 billion).

In 1994, Taiwan initiated the GAP program as a safety oriented program to let buyers know that the products had an acceptable level of agrochemical residue. GAP is still used to label food today, but the emphasis has shifted. The new GAP offers more transparency on food production processes, spawning additional identification acronyms and logos to label local produce.

Along with the new logos of CAS and GAP, COA has also established three new Taiwan/Traceability Agricultural Product (TAP) logos, which help consumers trace products from the production source to its consumption. The other two TAP logos are the Ubiquitous Taiwan/Traceability Agricultural Product (UTAP) and Organic Taiwan/Traceability Agricultural Product (OTAP). The former deals with high-quality processed foods, and the latter with foods that met the strict organic guidelines.

Green energy industries

Taiwan’s green energy sector also received a substantial boost last month when the government announced it would invest NT$45 billion (US$1.4 billion) to nurture this growing industry. The Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) hopes to grow the industry from NT$160.3 billion (US$4.9 billion) last year to NT$1.5 trillion (US$45.6 billion) by 2015. The Legislative Yuan has also been busy over the last few months, approving the TakeOff Program in April and passing the Statute for Renewable Energy in June.

The TakeOff program will be divided in two stages; the first will concentrate on capturing a larger slice of the solar energy and LED market, with the goal of becoming the world’s largest supplier of LED lights and modules, and among the World’s top three producers of solar cells. Plans are already underway to change Taiwan’s 700,000 traffic lights to LEDs and to build the world largest solar power plant by 2011.

The second stage of the TakeOff Program will focus on promoting biofuels, wind power, hydrogen energy, and fuel cells. The government hopes to turn the island into a center for electric vehicle manufacturing and fuel-cell assembly.

Taiwan is not merely focused on sustainable agricultural practices and renewal energy, but in all areas aimed at making the island truly green and toxin-free. The government is also promoting several low carbon community projects that seek to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. According to Premier Liu Chao-shiuan, a pilot program will begin on Taiwan’s offshore islands. By sourcing electricity from renewable sources it is hoped that a low-carbon lifestyle can develop that can be the standard for the whole country. According to a report in the United Daily News, the government’s green energy polices have already resulted in a drop in electricity consumption equivalent to a year’s consumption for Tainan City and County in southern Taiwan.

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About Me

The Press Division of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in San Francisco represents the Government Information Office (GIO), Executive Yuan, Republic of China (Taiwan). GIO maintains nine Press Divisions in the United States, including the San Francisco office. The Press Divisions are in charge of promoting Taiwan's public relations and cultural exchanges. This blog is updated by the Press Division, TECO in San Francisco.