Agriculture in Taiwan

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A farmer in Taiwan.

Agriculture in Taiwan is one the main industry in Taiwan. It contributes to the food security, rural development and conservation of Taiwan.[1] Around 24% of Taiwan's land is used for farming.[2]


Chiayi School of Agriculture and Forest in Tainan Prefecture.


Agriculture has been an important sector of Taiwanese life since ages ago. From archaeological sites in Changbin Township, Taitung County, since Paleolithic Age around 30,000-50,000 years ago, people hunted, fished and gathered. In Neolithic Age around 5,000-2,000 year ago, then only people began to live their sedentary lifestyle where they grew rice and other corps and domesticated animals. In Iron Age around 2,000 years ago, people in the northern coast of Taiwan began to make iron tools and food production increased significantly. In the 17th century, people from Mainland China began to migrate to Taiwan where they fished, hunted and grew crops. Most of them settled in Tainan.[3]

Dutch Formosa[edit]

During the Dutch Formosa in the early 17th century, the Dutch promoted the production of sugarcane and rice. At that time, 119 km2 of Taiwan land was cultivated which the land belonged to Dutch East India Company. The Dutch exported Taiwan's agricultural products and imported peas, tomatoes, wax apples and mangoes from Southeast Asia and United States to Taiwan.

Ming Dynasty[edit]

During the rule of Koxinga in the Kingdom of Tungning in the late 17th century, people immigrated from Mainland China to Taiwan increased to 200,000 people. This resulted in the increase of the cultivated land to 292 km2. Koxinga established land tenure system and taught people to build reservoirs for irrigation. Rice was the main produce at that time. The mainland Chinese people also brought 43 kinds of vegetable from South China, such as leeks, garlic and Chinese cabbage.

Qing Dynasty[edit]

During the Qing Dynasty, immigration from Mainland China to Taiwan increased because of wars and famines in the mainland. People began to build canals for irrigation. At this time, the cultivated land in Taiwan increased to 3,506 km2 by 1895.

Empire of Japan[edit]

Chianan Irrigation dam during the Japanese rule.

During the Empire of Japan, the Japanese greatly improved the agriculture sectors in Taiwan. They built concrete dams, reservoirs and aqueducts which forms an extensive irrigation system, such as the Chianan Irrigation. Arable land for rice and sugarcane productions increased by more than 74% and 30% respectively. They also established farmers' associations. Agriculture sector dominated the economy of Taiwan at that time.

Republic of China[edit]

After the handover of Taiwan from Japan to the Republic of China in 1945, the government revitalized the agricultural sector first to recover from the damage caused by World War II which eventually it was fully recovered in 1953. The government extended agricultural facilities and introduced the land reform program under the Sino-American Joint Commission on Rural Reconstruction.

In the late 1950s, Taiwan underwent fast high-speed economic growth and industrialization. In 1963, industrial sectors output value exceeded agricultural sectors output value. Also in the 1960s, the government shifted their priority to the development of export-oriented economic policy which focused on labor-intensive industries, such as textiles, convenience food and consumer electronics which eventually made Taiwan part of the Four Asian Tigers, along with British Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea. However, this caused pressure to the agricultural sector where more and more people move out from rural areas and labor costs increased.

In the 1970s, the role of agriculture shifted from main economy to supporting economy. The government that time issued policies for farmers to grow organic farming. In the 1980s, many farmlands were left idle due to the emigration of people from rural to urban areas and that Taiwan has begun opening up itself to staple food imports. On 1 January 2002, Taiwan joined the World Trade Organization under the name Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu. This accession caused further damage to the agricultural sector in Taiwan. In response, the government has promoted agricultural tourism.[4]

Recently, the government has introduced new policy to reactivate all of the idle lands left before to ensure food security, food self-sufficiency and to revitalize the agriculture sectors. Policies to develop the sector to be more competitive, modern and green were also introduced.


Agriculture-related affairs in Taiwan is handled by Council of Agriculture (COA), headed by Minister Chen Chih-ching. Taiwan houses the headquarter of World Vegetable Center. Taiwan is also the member of world organizations related to agriculture, such as Afro-Asian Rural Development Organization, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas and World Trade Organization.


In 2013, there are four main agricultural produce sectors in Taiwan, which are plant crops (47.88%), livestock (31.16%), fishery (20.87%) and forest (0.09%).


In 2013, Taiwan harvested more than 1.6 million tons of rice yield from 2,703 km2 of land with a total value of NT$36.9 billion. It is the most valuable cash crop in Taiwan.[5]

Betel nuts[edit]

In 2001, Taiwan harvested 165 thousand tones of betel nuts from more than 500 km2 of land, the second most valuable cash crop after rice.[6]


In 2013, Taiwan harvested 2.68 million tones of fruits from 1,844 km2 of land with a total value of US$191 million. Taiwan's fruit produces are banana, grape, guava, jujube, lychee, mandarin orange, mango, orange, papaya, pineapple, pomelo, sand pear, starfruit, strawberry, watermelon and wax apple.


Vegetable farmland in Lienchiang County.

In 2013, Taiwan harvested 2.75 million tones of vegetables from 1,459 hectares of land with a total value of US$170 million. Taiwan's vegetable produces are broccoli, cabbage, carrot, chayote, Chinese cabbage, edamame, eggplant, kai-lan, onion, scallion and spinach.


See also: Taiwanese tea
Tea plantation in New Taipei.

In 2013, Taiwan harvested 14,718 tons of tea with a total value of NT$6.92 billion, in which 3,919 tons of it was exported. Taiwan's tea produces are oolong tea, pouchong tea, green tea and black tea. Taiwan began cultivating tea since around two hundred years ago.[7]


In 2013, Taiwan harvested flowers with a total value of NT$16.52 billion, in which US$189.7 million of it was exported. Chrysanthemum floriculture takes the most land share among other types of flowers. Taiwan is the world's largest exporter of orchid, representing 87% of the flower export value in 2013.


In 2013, Taiwan produced livestock with a total value of NT$150 billion. Taiwan's three major livestock are pigs, broilers and eggs. Taiwan exported 10,890 tons of livestock products and imported 295,063 tons.


Fishing port in Penghu County.

In 2013, more than half of Taiwan's fishery products were exported with a total value of NT$54.5 billion. Taiwan's fisheries range from deep sea fisheries (43.64%), inland aquaculture (32.92%), offshore fisheries (12.48%), marine culture (6.93%) and coastal fisheries (4.03%). Taiwan's fishery products are clam, eel, grouper, milkfish, oyster and tilapia.

In 2013, Taiwan produced ornamental fishes with a total value of NT$1.2 billion. Taiwan has around 260 ornamental fish farms producing over 300 species of ornamental fish.


Headquarter of Agricultural Bank of Taiwan in Taipei.

In 2013, agriculture sector contributes around 1.69% of its gross domestic product (GDP) with a total value of NT$475.90 billion.[8] Combined with agriculture-related tourism sector, it contributes to 11% of Taiwan's GDP. Taiwan exports around US$5 billion worth of agricultural products annually to Canada, Mainland China, Japan, Middle East Singapore and United States.

In 2013, agritourism in Taiwan attracted around 20 million visitors and generated NT$10 billion.


Agriculture sector employs around 540,000 people in Taiwan, about 5% of the total population. In 1997, there were around 780,000 farm households, in which 80% of them were part-time farm households. There are 1.1 hectares of cultivable land per farm family.[9]


Agricultural financing system consists of the Agricultural Bank of Taiwan (Chinese: 全國農業金庫) and credit departments of farmers' and fishermen's association which falls under the supervision of the Bureau of Agriculture Finance (Chinese: 農業金融局) of the COA. Agricultural Credit Guarantee Fund (Chinese: 農業信用保證基金) is responsible for financing farmers without enough collateral to acquire working capital.

Trade events[edit]

  • Nantou Global Tea Expo (Chinese: 南投茶業博覽會)


Tianzhong Farmers' Association in Changhua County.

There are government-assisted farmer organizations around Taiwan which gives general assistance to farmers, such as supply, distribution, financial services etc. Farmer organizations in Taiwan consists of 302 farmers' associations, 40 fishermen's associations and 17 irrigation associations.


There is one political party in Taiwan related to agriculture or farmers which is the Taiwan Farmers' Party established on 15 June 2007. However, the party has no representative in the Legislative Yuan.


There are 16 research institutes established under the COA aimed to the development and innovation of technologies in agriculture-related produce. In 2013, there are 123 agricultural technology transfers to the private sectors with royalty payment of around NT$84 million.

Research centers[edit]


Spatial planning[edit]

Spatial planning for agricultural farms in Taiwan is embedded into the Taiwan Agriculture Land Information Service (Chinese: 臺灣農地資訊服務網) whose data is collected by Formosat-2 earth observation satellite. Information of farmland availability, soil properties, cropping suitability, irrigation infrastructures, land use zoning, and land consolidation are available for public access.


In 2010, the food self-sufficiency of Taiwan was 32%.

Energy usage[edit]

In 2014, agriculture sector consumed a total 2,832.9 GWh of electricity.[10]


Over the past few years, agritourism has become more and more popular in Taiwan. The government has built recreational area around farms and fishing villages by integrating the produce, nature and festivals. In 2013, there are more than 75 recreation farming zones have been established and there are almost 317 recreational farms have been licensed. Food-related museums are also plenty in Taiwan.

Tourist objects[edit]

Chihsing Tan Katsuo Museum, Coca-Cola Museum, Flying Cow Ranch, Fushoushan Farm, Fuxing Barn, Honey Museum, Kuo Yuan Ye Museum of Cake and Pastry, Ping Huang Coffee Museum, Ping-Lin Tea Museum, Qingjing Farm, Rareseed Ranch, Shangri-La Leisure Farm, Soya-Mixed Meat Museum, Soy Sauce Brewing Museum, Spring Onion Culture Museum, Taiwan Mochi Museum, Taiwan Nougat Museum, Taiwan Salt Museum, Taiwan Sugar Museum, Teng Feng Fish Ball Museum, Toucheng Leisure Farm, Wuling Farm, Wu Tao Chishang Lunch Box Cultural History Museum and Yilan Distillery Chia Chi Lan Wine Museum.

See also[edit]