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Late president's dream comes true with approval of Taiwanese cattle breed

06/19/2024 05:22 PM
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CNA file photo
CNA file photo

Taipei, June 19 (CNA) The efforts by late President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) to conserve a cattle breed that was imported into Taiwan from Japan in the Japanese colonial era from 1895-1945, has borne fruit with the official announcement of its formal name, "Yuanxing Cattle" (源興牛).

The Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) announced its approval of the registration of Yuanxing Cattle as a new cattle breed in Taiwan on Monday, nearly four years after the Lee Teng-hui Foundation applied for the name registration in late 2020.

The announcement made Yuanxing Cattle the first cattle species conserved by a private entity.

If no objections are filed within 30 days of the announcement, the breed conserved by GGP Biotechnology Co. Ltd. -- founded by Lee in 2017 -- will officially become a reality, according to the MOA.

In addition to being Taiwan's first democratically elected president in 1996, and serving in that post from 1988 to 2000, Lee held a doctorate in agricultural economics from Cornell University in the United States and was dedicated to transforming Taiwan's beef industry.

Lee, who died on July 30, 2020 in Taipei, had once said that Yuanxing Cattle should rival its Japanese counterpart Wagyu -- known for its prime quality meat.

To fulfill his dream, Lee purchased 19 head of cattle (eight male, 11 female) in 2016, which were taken to a leisure dairy farm in Hualien County, eastern Taiwan, where they grew in number to 31 as of December 2022, MOA official of animal industry affairs Li I-chien (李宜謙) said.

The cattle breed was named "Yuanxing" by Lee based on the designation of his family home in New Taipei's Sanzhi District, "Yuanxing House," where he grew up.

According to the MOA, the cattle were identified as descendants of those imported to Taiwan by the Japanese colonial government for farmland work, and considered genetically distinctive because they had never been cross-bred since arriving in Taiwan.

The ministry explained that genetically, Yuanxing Cattle are more distant from Western cattle breeds and closer to Japanese Wagyu cattle.

Moreover, principal component analysis and neighbor-joining method results indicate that although Yuanxing Cattle are closely related to Japanese Wagyu, they still form an independent group with their own distinct genetic identity, the MOA said.

The official approval for the naming means Yuanxing Cattle can enter commercial breeding, as well as become an important genetic resource to enhance the diversity of the domestic beef supply chain, it added.

(By Yang Shu-min and Lee Hsin-Yin)

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