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Asia Silicon Valley Development Agency CEO Says Internet of Things, Drones Could Boost Taiwanese Agriculture

Emerging technologies, such as the internet of things and drones with remote sensing capabilities, may radically change how farmers manage their crops, discussants said at a seminar organized by the Taiwan government-funded Asia Silicon Valley Development Agency.

At the seminar in Pingtung County that was aimed at introducing digital technologies to southern farmers, Asia Silicon Valley Development Agency CEO Chiou Junn-rong said internet of things technologies could help farmers collect agricultural data, for example data relating to irrigation water usage or pest control, which could ultimately help farmers boost their sales.

“Pingtung County needs to establish a platform that integrates supply side and demand side information for farmers, food suppliers, schools, markets, etc.” Chiou said at the seminar held at the end of June.

“The internet of things …could be used to help scale up production processes in Taiwan’s agricultural industries,” Chiou said.

Chiou said his agency had subsidized several promising smart farming projects created by Taiwanese companies.

In one project, GEOSAT Aerospace & Technology is using agricultural drones to capture high-resolution images of fields and gather other real-time data that can help farmers make more informed decisions about minimizing the use of sprays and fertilizers. The information overall helps them to manage crops, soil and irrigation more effectively.

The company is planning to use this drone technology to boost agricultural production in Taoyuan, Taichung and Tainan, amid a trend in Taiwan for using drones in agriculture.

At the seminar co-hosted by the Pingtung County Government, Chiou also pointed to another smart faming project from Taiwanese industrial giant Tatung. The conglomerate has created a platform that tracks and monitors the certification of crops, such as bananas.

Tatung’s banana certification platform has already passed a preliminary review by the Asia Silicon Valley Development Agency and is now in the testing stages. There will be a market test in Pingtung County in the next few months.

In September 2016, President Tsai Ing-wen's government announced its Asia Silicon Valley initiative. The Asian Silicon Valley Development Agency was launched in December the same year. It aims to connect Taiwan with global industries and cutting-edge technologies with a view to making Taiwan more attractive to international firms and talent.

The initiative is part of Tsai’s “5+2”program for fostering new innovative industries in Taiwan. These include defense, biotechnology, clean energy, the Internet of Things and smart machinery.