All citizens in Taiwan will have new identification cards by the end of this year, opening a new chapter for the I.D. card system. Do you know that the agricultural products also have identification cards now? Through such identification method, the production and marketing of the agriculture, fishery and livestock products are undergoing system change. Following the "New Agricultural Movement" led by Council of Agriculture (COA) Minister Su Jia-chyuan, agricultural products certified safe for "eating" have started a trend gaining rapidly in popularity and familiarity.
What?! I don't know what are certificated agriculture, fishery and livestock products. I haven't heard, seen, nor eaten them before. Hey!… that's not cool.
The certificated agricultural products refer to such products with traceability, which means that information details regarding the producing, processing, transporting, and marketing are recorded and, thus, can be traced. The food products are safe for eating.
By purchasing traceable agricultural products, you are not only into "consumption" of agriculture but also into "participation" in agriculture. Try to think about it, when you buy a bundle of vegetables with traceability bar-code in the supermarket or hypermarket, you can find out everything about your purchase- the origin, the production, the processing and the delivery – by simply passing it through the bar-code reading machine, or using your mobile phone to get on the Taiwan Agriculture and Food Traceability System website to check. The documentation on where the vegetables came from, who produced them and how these were grown should be clear. Such information should enable consumers to buy them with confidence about their being safe to eat. You seem to participate in the production of this bag of vegetables.
Through traceable record, the producer's "picture" is no longer blurred and unreachable to the consumer. The consumer has more channels through which to participate in the agricultural production and to build their trust and confidence in the agricultural products. Such agriculture allows "the participation of all people" and it a main spirit of the "New Agricultural Campaign."
Liao An-ding, who heads the COA's Planning Division, stated that after Taiwan joined the World Trade Organization (WTO), agriculture faced strong competition in the international market. Europe and Japan will implement comprehensively the agricultural product traceability system by 2008 and 2010 respectively. Taiwan must synchronize its export agricultural products' traceability system, completing it within limited time before the deadlines of the EU and Japan. .
In the domestic market, when mainland China's agricultural products with competitive prices enter Taiwan in big volume in the future, having certificated traceability is going to be an advantage for Taiwan's agricultural products, said Hu Zhong-I, chief of the Planning Division.
The urgency of this project exists because the potential down side effect can be seen. Based on the experiences acquired through the demonstration project on the agricultural product traceability system in the last two years, the system's implementation can move forward in full force under Minister Su's direction this year.
The COA has set the goals. By 2015, Taiwan will implement the agricultural product traceability system comprehensively. This will cover all the wholesale and the traditional retail markets. For the short and medium terms, all the hypermarkets and chain stores in the urban areas must see to it within the next three years that the agriculture, fishery and livestock products should have traceability. The extent of traceable agricultural products should reach 10% in 2006, 50% in 2007, and 100% in 2008.
Because of such goals, complete sets of measures have been drawn up. Regarding the production aspect, providing several products certified with traceable records can lead to consumers' acceptance, even contributing one reason towards their habit of buying them.. From the point of view of product characteristics, there were 64 agriculture, fishery and livestock products, which were declared Traceable Good Agriculture Products (TGAP) in 2005. The list is expected to increase to 100 items this year. Currently, there are 75 products certified as TGAP. Newly added are: Chinese yam, honey, water bamboo, spinach, wax apple, litchi, leeks, Roselle, mushroom, bi-luo-chun green tea and beef. In addition, the objective is for all the hypermarkets and chain stores in urban areas to carry traceable agriculture products in 2006, thereby requiring consistent and sufficient supplies.
Chemical residue examination is also one of the important issues on traceability. The COA passed the "Guideline for the Examination Control on the Agricultural Product Traceability," and for the first time put the whole certification and examination system within the legalization system regulation this year (2006). Before the end of this year, the COA also seeks to come up with the traceability label or mark in order to provide consumers with a clear certification of guarantee. In addition, making possible inquiry through the mobile phone is another important goal this year.
To expand the marketing channel is also a target end. What is produced must be marketed. This year, the Taiwan Association of Logistics Management was commissioned by the COA to work out plan for the "Establishment of the Demonstration Mode for the Production-to-Marketing Process towards Agricultural Product Traceability." Five demonstration points were selected to establish the standard traceability operation system. In the meantime, to raise the exposure of traceability agriculture products and the purchasing convenience of the consumers, the selling points will be increased from five markets in 2005 to 24 markets (8 channels) in 2006.
With the push of successful product management, certificated agricultural products are going to become increasingly popular. How can you miss this important trend?