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NCNU, CH Biotech to boost Taiwan's precision agriculture sector

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National Chi Nan University and Taiwanese firm CH Biotech R&D look forward to a fruitful year of agricultural cooperation following the signing of a Letter of Intent (LOI) in December 2019. The partnership will see land revitalization and student participation from NCNU, and technical and on-site training from CH Biotech.

Established in 2013, CH Biotech has devoted NT$2 billion to establishing a global R&D center at the Central Taiwan Science Park’s Chung Hsing location. The Nantou-based innovator then formed an alliance with Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI), Taiwan Fertilizer, Know-You Seed Co., and Tien Heng Machinery Co. last November.

The Precision Agriculture Alliance draws upon each member’s respective specialties in identifying and cultivating prized species, regulating crop growth and nutrition levels, and designing greenhouses, among other skills. Targeting the high-end agricultural market, alliance members work to optimize the output value per unit of farmland.

Explaining his lifelong aspirations to contribute to Taiwan and the nation’s agricultural sector in particular, CH Biotech Chairman Wu Chen-pang pointed out precision is the key to profit as most produce lose value due to loss of freshness or quality. Moreover, successful expansion of precision agriculture, otherwise known as site-specific crop management, will enhance the market value of Taiwan’s agricultural output by 30%. This field is moving from experimenting to forging templates, he said, and the equipment that will cut costs for farmers will be on the market soon. 

The CH Biotech R&D center has recently completed a study on optimizing the growth of cucumber, tomato, and coffee plants, Chairman Wu added, and this is where the partnership with NCNU begins. By enlarging the first 20-ping (6-square-meter) experimental greenhouse at the center to an industrial 200-ping (66-square-meter) standard one at NCNU, the partnership will help finalize the 2,000-ping (660-square-meter) prototype unit produced for commercial use.

NCNU President Dr. Yuhlong Oliver Su said that he is confident in the academic-industrial collaboration that will see the university’s Department of Applied Chemistry students lead the way for agricultural research, and the Department of Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management students work with CH Biotech engineers on refining coffee-processing technology.

This opportunity will also utilize the vast lands of NCNU, train students in management and agricultural skills, and perhaps even lead to internships in the future, he stated. In giving his blessings to the new partnership, Su also spoke of his hopes for the establishment of a collegial unit devoted to biological resources to complete the last piece of the university’s founding blueprint. 

The scope of collaboration outlined by the Letter of Intent encompasses the development of precision-based greenhouse operations, such as smart agriculture and self-regulating facilities; organizational management, including analytical software and big data analysis; and coffee-processing technology, by holding academic and technical seminars.

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