Never Forget Where the Fruits Come from As You Enjoy Them
Taiwan is not a big island but it has diversified weather and geographical conditions. Plus long-term development of agriculture as its economic basis and excellent agricultural technology, Taiwan has established a reputation as “Formosa (beautiful island)” and the quality and varieties of vegetables and fruits it produced have been ranked by the international community as one of the best. Through the research and development, innovation and cultivation at various district agricultural research and extension stations set throughout Taiwan by the Council of Agriculture, as well as the production and distribution by private seed and seedling companies, farmers are able to obtain superior seeds and seedlings and grow excellent fruits.
Trustworthy Breeding by Experts
Being situated in subtropical region, Taiwan is suitable for the growth of a wide range of plants. Crop improvement section chief Mr. Rong- mao Lai at the Kaohsiung District Agricultural Research and Extension Station explained that genetic resources of current fruits plants in Taiwan come mainly from species or strains imported from abroad, or local mutated strains, but not all imported species and strains are suitable for production prior to a series of strict process of examinations and cultivation. The genetic resources of imported species or strains must first be established firmly, and following by hybrid breeding, so the researchers will identify whether they are suitable for production in Taiwan according to such examination index as outward appearance, flavor, yield and draught- and disease-resistance. The application for naming and announcing the new varieties and their commercial products can be filed after passing evaluation following a long period of trial planting in the field.
Since breeding has to undergo various comparative experiments for a long time, it will always take 6 to 20 years for a new variety to complete the whole process from selecting genetic resources for hybrid breeding to announcing its name. For example, it took 13 years for the Kaohsiung District Agricultural Research and Extension Station to put a new variety of mango, one of its major fruit products, on the market recently. Because of the strict procedure, all seedlings cultivated by experts at agricultural research and extension stations after screening have such features as excellent taste, high yield or draught-, disease- and pest-resistance, enabling farmers to grow fruits smoothly with economic benefits. The seedlings are also trustworthy for farmers to plant because long-term examinations and experiments have ensured their stable quality.
Information on Breeding Is Provided through Various Channels
Following the announcement of a new variety, the district agricultural research and extension station will introduce it to local Farmer’s Association and farmers by way of demonstrations and inform the public through mass communication media, in addition to providing the information via such routine propaganda channels as agricultural information bulletin or pamphlets. Then based on the variety’s specific features and nature of cultivation, the station will grant exclusive or inclusive license to Farmer’s Associations, production and marketing units or private companies for them to produce seeds, seedlings or nursery stocks and sell them to farmers.
Maybe farmers will ask, to whom they should turn if and when there are problems with the seedlings they bought? In fact, as long as they made contact with the district agricultural research and extension station responsible for the variety, the station will send agricultural experts in charge to help solve the problems and provide assistance and guidance. For instance, the Kaohsiung District Agricultural Research and Extension Station is mainly in charge of cultivating plants that grow such tropical fruits as wax apple, Indian date, litchi and mango. And there are more than 50 varieties and strains of wax apple in its genetic resources garden. Farmers encountering problems related to the varieties of these plants or their cultivation will get expert assistance soon after contacting directly with the Kaohsiung District Station.
In addition to breeding by agricultural experts, of course, farmers or farmer organizations can also engage in the work of breeding plant varieties and apply for plant variety rights. Such right is aimed at protecting the holder’s ownership of the plant variety, promoting breed improvements and practicing seedling management in order to enhance farmer interests and agricultural development. Interested farmers may check the latest varieties and various related information on the Council of Agriculture’s publication of information by entering in COA ’s plant variety rights register web page (http://agrapp.coa.gov.tw/NewPlant/index.jsp).