Taiwan is located in the subtropical region, which is rich in biological resources and has a solid foundation in traditional planting and farming. Based on these conditions, Taiwan's agricultural practices are in need of transition. The development of Taiwan's agricultural biotechnology will have a vision of reinforcing Taiwan's agricultural biotechnology foundation, building up Taiwan to become the world's most important research, production, and service country for the subtropical biotechnology industry.
Agriculture played a very important role during the early stages of Taiwan's economic development. Through joint efforts between the government and farmers, Taiwan's agriculture sector recorded many outstanding achievements. However, Taiwan's farm land is limited. With the coming of economic prosperity, the increase in labor costs, plus the small farmer system instituted by land reforms, Taiwan's farm land has been fragmented into too many small plots. This makes large-scale commercial or mechanical farming difficult, and has thus reduced the global competitiveness of Taiwan's agricultural productivity.
The agricultural biotechnology industry is one of Taiwan's newly flourishing biotechnology industries. Due to the late development of the industry in Taiwan, agricultural biotech companies didn't begin to set up operations in Taiwan until recently. In addition, some of the medical and agricultural biotech companies have invested and set up their own agricultural farming departments, pioneering the field of agriculture biotechnology from different angles.
In 2014, Taiwan's total agricultural production value reached an estimated NT$495.6 billion (US$16.3 billion), accounting for 1.88 percent of the nation's gross domestic product. In response to changing food consumption patterns and increased competition due to market liberalization, the focus of Taiwan's agriculture has shifted from traditional farming of staple crops to production of consumer-oriented and higher-value commodities chosen for their market potential and Taiwan's technological advantages.
In recent years, the Taiwan government has aimed to develop unique and competitive strengths and turn agricultural technology R&D achievements into commercially viable products, such as animal vaccines, feed additives, biological pesticides, and ornamental fish.
To develop agricultural technology, it is important to form agricultural technology industry clusters and encourage agricultural transformation. Therefore, the Council of Agriculture (COA) has established agricultural biotechnology parks, which are meant to develop agricultural technology, introduce agricultural technology expertise to Taiwan, promote the transformation of agricultural industries, boost R&D in agricultural technology products, and promote mass production and trade.
The Agricultural Biotechnology Park (ABP) is situated within Pingtung County and has a planned maximum capacity of 120 tenants. The ABP is expected to generate an output of NT$18 billion after 10 years and create 8,000 jobs for southern Taiwan.