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At NPUST the Time for the “Plantaenarian” has Arrived

At NPUST the Time for the “Plantaenarian” has Arrived

Goals to cut pesticide use in-half in ten years, improve food safety, and promote broader reaching environmental protection policies have already been laid out by the government—and one of the key components to the strategic approach is the implementation of a “Plant Doctor System”. In order to develop the necessary infrastructure in the southern part of Taiwan, National Pingtung University of Science and Technology has received subsidies from the government to establish a Plant Doctor Education Hospital which will be operated by the university’s plant medicine faculty. An opening ceremony and plaque unveiling for the new hospital was held on December 7th to mark the launch of its official operations.

A number of government and industry representatives were invited to be present for the landmark occasion, including Director Hai-tung Feng of the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine. NPUST Vice President for Administrative Affairs Chao-Lin Tuan, who hosted the event, explained that Taiwan is the first country in the world to establish a legally based plant doctor medical system. Animals have veterinarian medical systems; plants should have plant doctor or “plantaenarian” medical systems too, so that farmers have a system they can rely on to keep their crops healthy through medical diagnostics and disease prevention.

These plant doctors will be called on to provide diagnostic services and consultancy. They will provide support and education on correct treatment, safe use of medicines, and disease prevention strategies, so that the agriculture industry will be able to achieve the goal of cutting pesticide use in-half within the next decade while also raising production value, contributing to the health safety of farmers, and providing peace of mind to consumers. 

Director Hai-tung Feng of the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine explained that, in suit with Taiwan University, National Chung Hsing University and Chiayi University, NPUST has established a Plant Medicine Teaching Hospital. These facilities are now distributed uniformly from the north end to the south end of Taiwan. In addition to training talent, plant hospital operations involve interacting with farmers, publicizing the system and assisting farmers to create eco-friendly environments. They will serve as safeguards for healthy harvests and help dispel any doubts that consumers have towards food safety. They are creating opportunities to allow farmers, agricultural businesses, and the general public to get acquainted with plantaenarians and develop friendly relationships with this special breed of medical practitioner.

The Assistant Professor Chen Wenhua, who oversees the university’s Plant Medicine Teaching Hospital, explained that the plant hospital has a regular reception desk where you can take a number, a medical records room, diagnostics lab, examination lab, plant medicine consultation office, and a classroom for plant medicine education. Currently, the Council of Agriculture is supporting two interning plant doctors who are responsible for outpatients, telephone registration, preliminary diagnosis and treatment consultations. During outpatient checkup hours, the entire faculty of the Department of Plant Medicine is on rotation to visit the patients; and if necessary, multiple professors will be called on at one time to provide comprehensive consultations.

Every year, as part of a complete and comprehensive training regime, third-year, fourth-year and graduate students take part in special projects and clinical internships, both at the hospital and out in the field. Currently, the hospital is cooperating with the Wandan Council of Agriculture (red bean producers), providing periodical visitations to specific locations, consulting on the health management of featured crops, and assisting with the monitoring of diseases and pest outbreaks. By providing precise instruction on pesticides application, the frequency and quantity of pesticides can be reduced. A traceability system is also being promoted and farmers are encouraged to adopt friendly or organic crop production techniques so that ecosystems in agricultural areas can remain stable and the environment can keep healthy. Expectation are that NPUST’s Plant Medicine Education Hospital will become Southern Taiwan’s main center for healthy plant care.

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