Planning for an Integrated Institution for Agricultural Science and Technology
Given ever-increasing economic and trade liberalization and the threat of extreme weather conditions, policy makers are confronted with the critical issue of finding a proper balance between economic development and food security. In tackling future challenges, the COA aims (a) to achieve cross-disciplinary integration of high-quality human resources with advanced technology to create innovative production value chains, and (b) to make Taiwan’s agro- technology industry into a leading innovative industry that will build cooperation between agro- businesses and farmers and open up new prospects for agriculture in Taiwan.
At the meeting of the Strategic Review Board of the Executive Yuan held on December 6-8 of 2010 and dedicated to long-term strategies for agro-industry and agro-technology, one of the conclusions was to “establish an institute of agro-technology as a platform for the industrial application of agro-technologies and the development of innovative industries.” On June 7 of 2012, the Executive Yuan passed the “Golden Decade National Vision” plan setting “agriculture of health and sustainability” as the central axis of agricultural policy, and further setting one of the main strategies as creation of an institute of agro-technology to (a) promote innovative research and development of agro-technologies and industrial applications thereof, and to (b) create a new agriculture based on a combination of green energy, high-efficiency development, and reduced energy use. The COA has consequently taken charge of planning for the establishment of this body, called the Agricultural Technology Research Institute (ATRI), in order to aggressively promote innovative R&D in agro-technology and industrial applications thereof.
The purpose of the founding of ATRI is to provide (a) agro-technologies and (b) agro- technology commercialization, and (c) industrial application services, to agro-businesses, farmers’ associations, and individual farmers. The goal is to speed development of innovative industries and ensure that Taiwan’s agriculture can stay competitive in the context of internationalization. The core duty of ATRI has been defined as taking research results produced by agricultural research institutions and finding industrial applications for these results, thereby enhancing their economic value. Specific activities include (1) converting agro-technology R&D into mass production, (2) setting technological or industrial standards and norms, (3) evaluating and analyzing proposed applications of agro-technologies, (4) protecting and licensing intellectual property rights, and (5) branding, marketing, and market research for specific products. ATRI will advise private-sector businesspeople in taking over specific technologies and turning these into commercial products on an industrial scale, with the aim of making technology-based agro-business into a cutting-edge sector within Taiwan’s economy. We must create an “agriculture of the whole people” that breaks down barriers between traditional farming and the rest of society, building cooperation between agro-businesses and farmers.
ATRI will be established as an independent entity under civil law. It will absorb some relevant existing organizations, task forces, and offices. For example, the Animal Technology Institute Taiwan (ATIT) will be dissolved and its elements incorporated into ATRI. Task forces and offices set up by the COA dedicated to commercialization and industrialization of technology will also come under ATRI. The site for ATRI has been provisionally determined to be the current site of the ATIT. In the future ATRI will be expanded and integrated with the laboratories and research stations of the COA, and will share grounds currently occupied by these laboratories and research stations. Based on the development of overall operations, in the future ATRI will establish departments for applied R&D, industrial strategy, and overall management. The department of applied R&D will cover animal, plants, and marine life research laboratories. When there is a need to enlarge ATRI’s fields of research, to create new incubation teams, and so on, ATRI will be able to borrow experts from the COA’s subordinate research institutes, and ATRI’s own manpower will be increased in the future as practical operational needs are evaluated.