Editor’s Note: Matthew Ryan is the digital marketing manager of HWTrek, a Taiwanese company that helps innovators and SMB’s find supply chain partners for their IoT hardware projects. With agtech as a key industry of focus for the company, Matthew lays out why Taiwan is set to play a big role in the digitization of agriculture globally.
There are few places in the world that have a better environment for building agtech devices and large scale smart farming projects than Taiwan. The island is a major manufacturer of all of the components used in smart farming, including IoT sensors, solar panels, drones, robotics, LED’s and vertical farms and agricultural technology system integrators. Taiwan is also a perfect base for agricultural companies wanting to enter the China and Asian markets. The island is actively pushing itself as a hub for Agriculture 4.0 and is looking to attract startups, SMB‘s and system integrators to its shores.
Taiwan has been an agricultural research and development leader since the 1960’s, when changes to the economic and social structures, matched with an outflow of manpower and rising wages, forced the nation to become an early adopter and innovator in agricultural mechanization. In the following decades, university departments and government investment focused on agricultural research. Today, thousands of students from around the world come to Taiwan to study tropical agriculture. Taiwan is a mass exporter of produce, mainly to the Japanese market, where the nation’s fruit is renowned for its taste and quality. Smart farming and agriculture 4.0 is set to be the next chapter in this story.
Components of Agriculture 4.0
Taiwan is world renowned for its engineering prowess and possesses more electrical engineering majors per-head than anywhere else in the world. This workforce supports a tight-knit supply chain of thousands of SME’s that build all the other components needed in smart farming.
- IoT Sensors: Taiwan has been dubbed the “the engine room of the internet of things,” due to the large number of semiconductors found mainly in the Science Park in Hsinchu. Today, Taiwan produces 25% of the world’s semiconductors.
- LED’s: Taiwan has the second largest LED industry in the world. The rise in indoor farming is being driven by advances in LED technology. Indoor farming is particularly demanding of LED precision because of the requirements to provide optimal growth and yields.
- Robotics: Taiwan is one of the global front-runners in robotics, with a goal to turn it into one of its core competencies in the next twenty years.
- Solar Cells: As the world’s single largest producer of solar cells, Taiwanese companies can provide the energy resources of large-scale agriculture projects.
- Drones: 10% of the world’s commercial drones are made in Taiwan, and this industry is predicted to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 10% until 2025.
- Indoor Farming/Aquaponics/Hydroponics: Making use of a wealth of experience and resources in LED lighting, some OEM companies have sprung up offering full solutions for indoor farming/aquaponics and hydroponics.
Outside of components, Taiwan also has some technology providers and system integrators that can provide complete, smart farming solutions. The most prominent of these is Advantech, which is able to create fully intelligent agricultural solutions for farms.
Mandarin-speaking and located two hours from Shanghai, Taiwan is the perfect base for companies looking to enter the Mainland China market, as well as other parts of Asia. In an interview, Mark Chen of Taipei-based system integrator, SmartAgri said: “Our advantage in Taiwan is that we are used to working with the humidity of the tropical climates of South East Asia and have the connections and cultural know-how to push projects in the China market.”
The Taiwanese government is doubling down on Agriculture 4.0, with pledges to invest $300 million by 2020. There is also a push for overseas developers of agricultural devices and system integrators working in agriculture to consider partnering with Taiwanese companies.
We at HWTrek firmly believe that the world is in the middle of its biggest agricultural revolution in over one hundred years. At the same time, we are confident that Taiwan is set to be the engine room for many of these monumental changes and hope agricultural innovators will join us here.