Taiwan could be a prime target for Queensland agtech exporters. That is the message in a new report, released by Trade & Investment Queensland (TIQ) in Australia.
The report examines the pressures driving agricultural change in the Asian nation and how they are contributing to the adoption of new farming technologies.
According to Patrick Hafenstein, TIQ Commissioner for Taiwan, Queensland exporters are well positioned to take advantage of the opportunities available in Taiwan. “Queensland agtech businesses have a chance to enter a premium market that’s located close to Australia and well supported by government initiatives”, he says.
Taiwan agriculture faces range of challenges
Agriculture in Taiwan is facing a range of challenges, including an ageing farming community, changing weather patterns from climate change and increasing scarcity of farmland. “This report provides Queensland businesses with the latest market insights and strategic information to help them explore export opportunities related to these challenges”, Mr Hafenstein says.
Evolving agtech market
Mr Hafenstein points out that Queensland’s reputation for world-class agricultural ingenuity would give the state’s suppliers a competitive advantage in Taiwan’s rapidly evolving agtech market. “Agtech is an emerging industry in Queensland”, he says. “And the economy of Taiwan is based on technology. We thought there would be some good opportunities for Australia and Taiwan to collaborate and target global markets together.”
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An agrivoltaics system on a research farm in Taiwan. - Photo: Taiwan Agricultural Research Institute
Mr Hafenstein explains that Australian company Ceres Tag, that makes the world’s first smart ear tag for livestock, showed that this could work. It partnered with the CSIRO, Data 61 and James Cook University to develop a working prototype, but found a strategic manufacturer in Taiwan to optimise their product.
Seeing the potential growth opportunity in Ceres Tag, Yomura Technologies drew on its manufacturing expertise in medical devices and worked with the company to improve the ear tag prototype – reducing the product’s weight and size by 30%. The positive response to the improved product convinced Yomura Technologies to invest in Ceres Tag as an official partner.
Precision technologies are currently used in Taiwan for high-value crops such as dragon fruit, jujubes and lychees, and are increasingly adopted by produce cooperatives in eastern and southern Taiwan that specialise in a wide variety of crops at different stages of growth.
Capitalising on the growth of smart agriculture, opportunities exist for businesses to support farmers in installing environmental-control equipment, including:
- Intelligent hardware such as temperature, humidity, soil pH and luminosity sensors that wirelessly transmit to desktops, tablets and mobile phones.
- IoT monitoring systems to automatically control field operations via software control and remote programming
- Remote sensing to provide much-needed monitoring and prediction of crop disease and/or pest outbreaks, such as tools to track pests in real-time
- UAV’s (unmanned aerial vehicles) such as autonomous drones or satellite technology
- all-in-one integrated systems
- VRT’s (variable rate technologies) that can realise the application of input variables and allow farmers to control the amount of input applied in specific locations. Basic VRT methods are map-based, sensor-based and manual.
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A musk melon greenhouse in Taiwan. - Photo: Taiwan Agricultural Research Institute
AI, robotics and big data
Mr Hafenstein emphasises that the government of Taiwan is very supportive of the development of new technologies, such as agtech. “They are dedicating a lot of funds and resources towards this”, he says. “They also have a lot of technological knowhow in areas like AI, robotics and big data. They are well positioned to take part in the agtech industry.” Taiwanese companies could also use Australia as a testing ground for their technology, explains Mr Hafenstein.
The interest in the report 'Opportunities for Queensland businesses in Taiwan's agtech market' has been good so far, says Mr Hafenstein. “There have been 133 downloads so far”, he says. And Agfrontier, a regional agtech incubator, has also shown interest in the opportunities in Taiwan.
A drone spraying over a Taiwanese Red Dragon fruit farm. - Photo: Taiwan Agricultural Research Institute