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Plant Seedlings Industry Has Great Business Opportunity
Domestic demand for plant seedlings has increased continuously in recent years and the annual output value of seedlings is estimated at more than NT$15 billion, with some 68% seedlings for gardens and 32% for agriculture and other functions. Cultivated seedlings are not only provided for domestic need but also offer great business opportunity for exports. Thus, increasing the quantity and upgrading the quality of seedling production are the key for Taiwan to maintain agricultural competitiveness.
Vegetable seeds are the main item of Taiwan seedling exports, with an annual export value of NT$3.6 billion. Tissue cultures and greenhouse seedlings of Phalaenopsis and other orchids are major flower seedling export items, accounting for an annual export value of NT$2 billion. At present the main special crop seedling is tea seedlings provided to domestic tea plantations, which need 20 million healthy tea seedlings every year. Once tea products are manufactured, their exports could reach 8,000 tons annually.
Tree seedlings are also valuable! In response to foreign demand for such special trees as material for genetically modified pulp wood, anti-cancer drug and biofuel, raising genetically modified eucalyptuses and new variety of Taxus celebica Li and its seedlings is estimated to have an annual output value of several billion NT dollars and enables Taiwan to compete in the US$10 billion world market.
In the past three years Taiwan's achievment in breeding included 32 varieties of vegetables, Taiwan tea No. 19 (emerald) and No. 20, genetically modified fast-growing eucalyptuses, quality disease-resistant banana Tai-Chiao No. 5 and fruitful Tai-Chiao No. 6, and red dragon yam Tainong No. 5.
All these new varieties are agriculture's rising stars. Those with strong disease-resistant capability may become source of farm crop replacement, while some of them may improve the yield or quality of the trad Himal varieties, as a result, increasing the output value of agriculture and forestry. Therefore, seedlings have laid the foundation for Taiwan's agriculture to compete in the international market and extended the value of preserved genetic resources with regard to protection of domestic crop varieties. We will elaborate in the section on "Animal and Crop Varieties Also Need Patent Right Protection."