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Taiwan-Philippines demo mushroom farm breaks ground

Michael Hsu (second left) and George Culaste (second right).

Michael Hsu (second left) and George Culaste (second right). (CNA photo)

Officials from Taiwan and the Philippines broke ground Friday on a demonstration mushroom farm in the country's Baguio City, as part of a joint collaboration aimed at helping the Southeast Asian nation gain a deeper understanding of Taiwan's agricultural development and its mushroom industry.

The project, the first of its kind to be established by the two countries, aims to assist the Philippines with its button mushroom cultivation and also to explore export opportunities for Taiwan's agricultural equipment and materials.

Michael Hsu (徐佩勇), Taiwan's representative to the Philippines, told CNA at the groundbreaking ceremony that the project was first conceived when Philippine officials expressed the desire to learn from Taiwan's mushroom industry during a bilateral meeting last year.

The Council of Agriculture (COA) then deployed a team of experts to the Philippines to scout for possible areas to set up a demonstration farm, Hsu said, adding that Baguio was chosen because of its ideal climate.

The farm will be able to help local farmers improve their production capacity, and at the same time open up a window of opportunity for Taiwanese suppliers in terms of materials and equipment related to mushroom cultivation, he explained.

Chen Junne-jih (陳駿季), head of the COA's Taiwan Agricultural Research Institute, who also attended the event, said the demand for button mushrooms in the Philippines is especially high.

He said the farm will assist local farmers to generate more revenue based on increased production, adding that it will also help create new job opportunities for locals because button mushrooms require a lot of manpower during harvest.

The ceremony was also attended by several Philippine officials, including Bureau of Plant Industry Director George Culaste and Manila Economic and Cultural Office Vice Chairman Gilberto Lauengco.

Construction of the farm is scheduled to be completed by June this year. (By Angie Chen and Ko Lin)