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
>The I-CAL team started off by going to the PETRONAS Twin Towers today, the fourth tallest building in the world. These towers are regarded as a symbol of Malaysia and its growing infrastructure. Many people may recognize these towers from the Sean Connery film “Entrapment.” We had the opportunity to go up to the 41st floor and tour the sky bridge that connects the two towers. PETRONAS is the largest petroleum company in Malaysia with business interests in over 35 countries.
We thanked our great United States Grain Council representative, Adel, for all the time he spent with us and making our time in Malaysia truly unforgettable. We also expressed our appreciation to our exquisite tour guide Joseph, whose local knowledge of Malaysia added to our cultural experiences.
After good byes we departed for Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Five hours later and some turbulence we arrived in Taipei to 71 degrees Fahrenheit (26 degrees Celsius) with a gentle rain. Our 45 minute bus ride brought us to the Howard Plaza Hotel, where we will be staying for the remainder of the trip. Tomorrow we are looking forward to learning about the U.S. Grain Council’s efforts in Taiwan and meeting with the Council of Agriculture.
Grant Christensen, Iowa State University
Adam Miller, Ridgewater College
>Rainforests, monkeys, leeches and caves: today in Malaysia was filled with excitement and adventure! We started off our day bright and early with a 2-hour drive from Malaka back to Kuala Lumpur. We stopped on the outskirts of the city to visit a forest reserve that met all of our dreams and expectations of what a rainforest should entail. Lush green vegetation, tall trees, huge insects and even bigger rocks surrounded us as we hiked through the jungle. Soon after we arrived, however, our rainforest experience became complete when the daily Malaysian rain came pouring down. Within minutes we were soaked, but that didn’t stop us from trudging up the trail to the canopy walkway. After dealing with a few leeches, we felt like Tarzan as we walked across the treetops on nothing more than ropes and boards- an experience none of us will soon forget. The fog rolling in over the endless trees created an image that was everything we had ever imaged a rainforest would be.
After our rainforest adventure, we stopped for lunch and a cup of excellent Malaysian tea at the Malay Tea House, and then continued our day of discovery at Batu Caves. The caves, located exactly 270 steps above Kuala Lumpur, contain an ancient Hindu temple with golden statutes and elaborate alters. The wild monkeys provided endless entertainment as we climbed the steps to gaze out over the city and view the caves. We finished the experience with coconut juice as we headed back into the city.
After a stop at Central Market to purchase some authentic Malaysian souvenirs, we headed back to the hotel to wipe off the rainforest grime and prepare for our last evening in Malaysia. Our last stop of the day was the Kuala Lumpur Tower, the fourth tallest tower in the world. We spent some time on the observation deck before heading to dinner at the revolving restaurant that provided an excellent view of the city from hundreds of meters in the air. The cuisine was top notch, and the buffet tables were laden with both Malaysian and Western food, complete with a desert table that was second to none. It was a perfect way to say goodbye to Kuala Lumpur.
After a quick ride back to the bottom of the tower, it was time to say farewell to one of our wonderful hosts, Shellen, and her husband, Steve. Our trip would not have been possible without her expertise and guidance, and we parted with the hope of meeting again in the future.
By then, it was getting late, and some returned to the hotel while others spent a few minutes walking around Bukit Bintang Square, which is Kuala Lumpur’s equivalent to Times Square. The square offered bright lights, Starbucks and exciting shopping which provided an entertaining evening for all.
Malaysia was truly a diverse and exciting nation that provided tremendous opportunities to learn about agriculture and try new things. We will be sad to leave Kuala Lumpur tomorrow, but we are looking forward to experiencing a new country and culture in Taiwan.
Emily Schneider – Kansas State University
Lucas Fuess – Cornell University
Our third day in Malaysia started with a unique experience, the Kuala Lumpur Wet Market. The market is similar to a farmer’s market in the United States where restaurants and families can come to buy fresh fruits and vegetables like corn, carrots, and pineapple. Unlike the typical famer’s market, this market also sold frogs, live chickens, and fish that were still wiggling on the table. The air was filled with early morning humidity, fresh seafood, and smoked meats. At 8:00 am, we were already late for the freshest products as the market starts at 4:00 am each morning, and by 2:00 pm a huge sale takes place so that the food doesn’t spoil in the hot sun.
Adell, our friend from the U.S. Grains Council treated us to his favorite breakfast spot, Resotran Devis Corner. It was a popular Indian restaurant for the non-natives. We had rice pancakes stuffed with a potato curry masala. The highlight of the meal was the fresh squeezed apple juice, yum!
Our next stop was Westport, a central hub for the importing and exporting of Malaysia grain. The port had feed mills, ships, and containers covering its 7 kilometers of ocean front property along the Strait of Malacca. It was no surprise to hear that this port was the 14th largest port in the world in terms of volume. With all of the opportunities and growth taking place in Southeast Asia, Westports has goals of becoming a top ten port in the world. Currently it could move 10,000 tons of dry bulk grains and 20,000 tons of bulk liquids per hour. By mimicking an airport, this seaport specializes in convenience, efficiency, and employee and customer satisfaction. They treated us like VIP’s as we got up close and personal with some of the $7.3 million cranes and 370 meter long boats (that’s long enough to fit 3 football fields)!
Along the port, we were fortunate enough to tour Cargill’s feed mill. Cargill is a Minnesota based company that stretches around the globe working in 68 countries. They have been established in Malaysia since 1978, and have 581 employees. Specializing in animal nutrition, grains and oilseeds, texturizing, and flavoring, Cargill is committed to serving its worldwide customer base. From palm oil refining to formulating proper fish feed, Cargill has its hand in all aspects of Malaysian agriculture.
Our last tour of the day was with a company that owned all of the KFC’s and Pizza Huts in Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia, and India. Ayamas is a fully integrated company owning the feed mill, processing plant, hatchery, and restaurants it needed to obtain 10% of the chicken market in Malaysia. It was a real treat because it was the first branded chicken and was leading the way in providing value added products in Malaysia. Stay tune as we tour one of the most innovated chicken farms in Malaysia tomorrow and head to Melaka!
Ashley Gatling – University of Arkansas
Dan Helvig – University of Minnesota
>Our second day in Malaysia and first full day of touring was packed full of learning opportunities. We started by visiting the U.S. Grains Council Office and meeting with David Cottrell and Raymond Hoh of the Foreign Agriculture Service and Adel Yusupov with the U.S. Grains Council. They briefed us on the agriculture industry in Malaysia and Southeast Asia. We learned that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has a wide variety of agriculture trade opportunities throughout the world. Malaysia is prominent in the production of palm oil, rubber, rice, and cocoa, while ASEAN’s future opportunities include population and economic growth, GDP and consumption growth, the demand for more meat products and the desire to be self-sufficient in animal agriculture. Demand for meat products in the region will increase as a result of growing population and urbanization as nearly 75% of the population in Malaysia is projected to be urban by the year 2050. Demand for healthy and lowfat products in Malaysia is also increasing. Our group also discussed DDGS and its use within Southeast Asia.
After learning about the broad agriculture industry in Malaysia we visited the Malaysian Palm Oil Board. Palm oil is the largest agriculture industry in Malaysia accounting for 60% of the total agriculture production. Twenty three percent of world fat and oil supply comes from palm oil, and Malaysia exports 90% of their production. From research, 12 new varieties of palm oil trees have been introduced and selected for different purposes. We had the opportunity to view and experience palm oil production from start to finish and the diverse number of products and by-products it produces. We learned about the life cycle of the trees and the production statistics of the palm oil trees.
Next we toured a swine farm in Tanjung Sepat. The farm maintains about 700 sows and about 10,000 market hogs. Our group discussed the similarities and differences between a typical American swine farm and this Malaysian farm. This swine farm markets their hogs at 100 kilos, mixed their own feed and completely uses artificial insemination. Ten employees work on the farm to care for the hogs, and due to the hot weather in Malaysia the hogs are always bathed at least once a day. An interesting fact we found out is that the stomach is the most expensive part of the hog.
We finished the day with a little recreation. We had a wonderful seafood dinner on the banks of a river and concluded with a firefly night cruise. These unique fireflies were no bigger than fruit flies and appeared to pulse like Christmas lights on one variety of tree that grew next to the river. Our group is looking forward to more learning opportunities and cultural experiences tomorrow.
Devin Burton – University of Wyoming
Caitlin Kasper – University of Minnesota