This morning we arose to our final sunrise in Southeast Asia. We began our morning with a debriefing and wrap up about our experiences in Taiwan, including an analysis of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of agriculture in Taiwan and a look at how the US Grains Council can improve their relationship with the Southeast Asian nations. After sharing our favorite memories of the trip and viewing a slideshow that summarized our I-CAL experience, we concluded that our experience in Asia was one we will never forget. We have learned together, we have laughed together, but perhaps most importantly we have gained valuable knowledge and experience that has added a new dimension to our contribution to the agricultural industry.
After our debriefing, we headed to our final lunch of traditional Taiwanese beef and noodles. As we type this we are sitting on the bus on the way to the airport enjoying the scenic mountains of northern Taiwan. Within two hours we will be on our trans-Pacific flight back to the United States.
The only thing left to do now is thank our fearless leader, Mr. Marty Tatman. Professor Mah-tee, you have been truly exceptional in your leadership and organization of this program. We can’t thank you enough for facilitating our learning and ensuring that we experienced true Southeast Asian culture. We guess you were fun to have around, too! Thanks again for making this program possible.
See you in America!
Lucas Fuess – Cornell University
Emily Schneider – Kansas State University
>The program has come to a close, after all the memories made, experiences shared and laughs to remember we just wrapped up our last day in Taiwan. We started off with a tour of the wet market; this market was very different from the wet market in Malaysia. For instance this market was indoors, they used ice to keep meat products cold, and there was a lot less people and nasty smells in the air. Somehow people still managed to drive their scooters in the building.
From the market our group traveled to Wei Mon Industries; a company that specializes in bioplastics. This was an informative visit. We learned that bio-plastics are made from plant materials, not oils, so they are biodegradable, sustainable and environmentally friendly. Products made from bio-plastics include: cups, plates, eating utensils, cake and fruit trays, “to go” containers, and others just to name a few. At 60 degrees Celsius it would take 67 days for a cup to fully decompose, if left at a normal temperature of 40 degrees Celsius and outside it would take approximately 1-2 years. We also learned that the plastics are made from any high starch material. Wei Mon uses a lot of U.S. corn! About ten kernels of corn will yield one kernel of bio-plastic. This company is taking huge steps in helping to green up our planet, they are progressive agriculturalists who are looking at the potential of plants and helping to bring that potential to life.
From Wei Mon, our travels brought us to Taipei 101, the 2nd largest building in the world. We stepped on the world’s fastest elevator that brought us up to the 82 floor in less than 30 seconds. Let’s just say we were flat bookin’ it. Due to some rain today, our view of Taipei wasn’t that great but with the help of a hand guided tour headset we were able to get the general idea of what we were looking at.
Once back at the hotel we took advantage of some time to repack all of our stuff and try to stuff as much as we could into our bags. Some of us (mainly the girls) may have some issues when it comes to checking our bags tomorrow due to weight limits. One thing is for certain, this trip has been a great experience. We all know that agriculture is a global industry and being able to spend time here in Asia has opened our eyes to different agricultural practices, and industries in Ag. We can’t thank the United States Grain Council and The GRAINS Foundation enough for sponsoring this program. A special thanks to Clover Chang, the director of the U.S. Grain Council here in Taipei and Adel Yusupov the Southeast Asia Regional Director for taking time to travel with us, answer our questions and show us an unforgettable time. Thanks for all you do!
Tim Martini – Colorado State University
Amy Petersen – Utah State University
>Our group traveled two hours out of Taipei, Taiwan this morning to tour Taichung Port. Along the way we stopped to try some Taiwanese treats at the rest stop. We were surprised to see that Taiwanese rest stops not only offer toilets, but also a wide range of food, beverages, and souvenirs for purchase. We were briefed on the Eastern Media International (EMI) Corporation’s business activities in Taiwan and all throughout Asia. EMI is the only grain shipping company in Taiwan, and they import 8.2 million tons per year. Ninety-two percent of corn, two-thirds of soybeans and almost all of the wheat used in Taiwan are imported from the U.S. After viewing a Panamex ship unloading at the port we enjoyed a seafood lunch.
We stopped at one of the many rice paddy fields on our way to Fwusow Industry Company feed milling plant. At Fwusow we met with Yau-Kuen Hung, Chairman and CEO of the company. He shared with us that Fwusow is involved in numerous enterprises including pet and animal feeds, edible oils and foods for human consumption. As we toured the plant we were able to see fresh dog and cat food as well as broiler feed shaped into pellets and bagged. We were also able to see the central control rooms that operation the feed mill.
Back in Taipei, the I-CAL team enjoyed a Mongolian BBQ dinner with U.S. Grains Council staff and other key Taiwanese agriculture officials and experts. We also celebrated Adam’s birthday with a huge cake topped with fresh fruit! After dinner we stopped to sing our hearts out with karaoke for a few hours. We look forward to tomorrow when we are able to meet with staff from National Taiwan University, Taiwan Feed Industry Association and the China Grain Products Research and Development Institute.
Caitlin Kasper – University of Minnesota
Devin Burton – University of Wyoming
>We enjoyed a nice Japanese and Western style breakfast in our hotel before our first meeting of the day at 8:30. We started our first full day in Taipei, Taiwan with a meeting with the Clover Chang, Director of the U.S. Grains Council in Taiwan. We also listened to presentations from Mark Dries, Chief of the Agricultural Affairs Section of the American Institute in Taiwan, the equivalent of the U.S. embassy and Keith Schneller, Director of the Agricultural Trade Office of the Foreign Agricultural Service.
Then we left for a 10:30 meeting with the Council of Agriculture which is the similar to the United States Department of Agriculture. There we watched a video highlighting Taiwan agriculture and the programs they promote for farmers. We enjoyed some fresh fruit produced in Taiwan while we discussed the country’s agricultural sector with Dr. Kuei-son Sheu, Director of the Department of Animal Industry for the Council along with several of his staff. We were also surprised with a visit from the Deputy Minister of Agriculture for the Council. After spending a great deal of time discussing the many aspects of the industry, we headed off to lunch. We stopped along the way for a brief 10 minute visit at a large square and courtyard honoring one of the country’s greatest presidents. For lunch, we enjoyed fried pork – Japanese style!! This was also our first opportunity to use chopsticks in Taiwan.
During the afternoon, we visited the National Palace Museum, a world renowned museum of Chinese art and history of the past 5,000 years! Then we met back at the hotel for a brief break before walking a few blocks in downtown Taipei for supper at a local mall. To much of our surprise, there was Coldstone Creamery, where many of us enjoyed a little ice cream, a small piece of home. Then we walked around a bit downtown before heading back to the hotel, for some much needed rest and our nightly debriefing meeting. Stay tuned for more tomorrow as we tour Taichung Port and Charoen Pokphand Enterprise Co., a feed mill in Taiwan.
Ryan Hrubes – Iowa State University
Wil Baxley – North Carolina State University