Taipei (Taiwan News) -- Shennong (神農), also known as the Divine Farmer in ancient Chinese literature, is credited for teaching the ancient Chinese how to grow crops and raise animals. Shennong is renowned for testing hundreds of herbs on himself to record their medicinal properties. In Taiwan, the Shennong Award was established 30 years ago to commemorate this great forerunner and to honor present pioneers who stand out from their peers for their innovations and contributions to a sustainable food future in the country.
The Top 10 Shennong Award ceremony was held on Tuesday with the attendance of Premier Lin Chuan, Council of Agriculture (COA) Minister Tsao Chi-hung, Democratic Progressive Party legislators Huang Wei-cher and Frida Tsai. There were 10 people who received the Top 10 Shennong Award and another 12 who took home awards for the best farmers of the year.
Premier Lin Chuan said at the ceremony that the agricultural sector is the pillar of our economy, which is, however, plagued with problems and needs serious attention. The first challenge Lin pointed out is the scattered and small plots of farmland which has led to a decline in agricultural production. To tackle the problem, Lin said the government is planning to revitalize fallow farmland and improve its utilization.
The second challenge, according to Lin, is a rapidly aging rural population as young people continue to move to urban areas for better career opportunities. Lin noted that the new administration will come up with more solutions to address this problem, such as providing a variety of incentives to youths to return to farm villages to work full-time and apply their creativity to produce and market agricultural products, transforming the traditional agricultural business into value-added agriculture.
Lin thanked the award winners for their contributions to the development of local agriculture either through incorporating green practices or newer, versatile technologies.
Horn-Liang Foods' general manager Ou Lin-he (center) receiving an award from Premier Lin Chuan (left) and from Agricultural Minister Tsao Chi-hung (right). (Taiwan News photo by Sophia Yang)
Among the Top 10 Shennong Award winners, Horn-Liang's general manager Ou Lin-he was the only winner from the livestock sector. He was awarded for integrating downstream and upstream capabilities for production optimization. Other outstanding producers in the livestock sector winning the Best Farmers of the Year were egg producer Chang Chien-feng, broiler producer Huang Sheng-yu, and hog producer Lin Yueh-chan.
Chang took home the prize for his good food safety practices, Huang for his successful branding strategy to market his broiler products, and Lin for his successful implementation of a food traceability system.
Horn-Liang's general manager Ou Lin-he transformed his family duck farm into a successful supplier of processed eggs worldwide. Horn Liang adopted solar power and green practices in duck farming, which have also been proven effective in weathering an avian flu pandemic and strong typhoon winds. Also, Horn Liang is committed to improving production efficiency through proven technology and implementing food safety management like ISO 22000 and HACCP and has obtained certifications such as CAS for its processed egg products.
Horn-Liang's products are currently available at major local retail outlets and in 16 countries including the United States and Japan. In these markets, the company has seen a year-over-year increase in sales revenue and profitability.
Horn-Liang Foods displays its processed egg products at the ceremony. (Taiwan News photo by Sophia Yang)
According to the COA, among the 22 winners of this year, up to 13 were aged under 45, including 31-year-old melon farmer Yang Jing-shiang, who increased his production through scientific management. The oldest winner was Chen Tien-chi, who established an organic turmeric farm and developed advanced turmeric processing technology.
Egg producer Chang Chien-feng (center) receiving award from Premier Lin Chuan (left) and agricultural minister Tsao Chi-hung (right). (Taiwan News photo by Sophia Yang)
Broiler producer Huang Sheng-yu (center) receiving award from Premier Lin Chuan (left) and agricultural minister Tsao Chi-hung (right). (Taiwan News photo by Sophia Yang)
Hog producer Lin Yueh-chan (center) receiving award from Premier Lin Chuan (left) and agricultural minister Tsao Chi-hung (right). (Taiwan News photo by Sophia Yang)