HSINCHU (Taiwan) – Chuang Cheng Deng’s humble rice farm lies just a stones throw from Taiwan’s nerve center for the computer chip industry. Its products power many of the world’s iPhones.

Mr. Chuang is awarded the prize this year for his economic contributions to high-tech neighboring countries. Taiwan has been in drought, and Taiwanese have begun to crawl to conserve water for their homes and factories. They also stopped irrigation on thousands of acres of agricultural land.

The authorities pay compensation to the producers for their loss of income. Chuang, 55, fears that customers will seek out other suppliers due to the failed harvest. This could lead to years of low revenue.

He said that the government used money to close farmers’ eyes, as he surveyed his brown parched fields.

Officials consider Taiwan’s drought to be the worst in over 50 years. It also highlights the immense challenges involved in hosting Taiwan’s semiconductor industry. This is an indispensable hub in global supply chains for smartphones, automobiles and other essentials of modern living.

To clean their factories and wafers (the thin silicon disks that make up the basis of chips), chip makers require a lot water. With global semiconductor supplies already severely constrained by rising demand, concerns over Taiwan’s water supply shouldn’t be dismissed.

TSMC is responsible for producing chips for Apple, Intel and other major brands. More than 90% of the world’s top chip manufacturing capacities are located in Taiwan. Last week, the company announced that it would invest $ 100 million over the next three-years to increase its capacity. This will likely further strengthen its market leadership.

According to TSMC, the drought has not had an impact on production. The unpredictable rainfall in Taiwan is a result of the growing tech industry. Taiwan must continue to make every effort to ensure that water flows freely.

The government has been flying planes and burning chemicals over the reservoirs for the past few months. Hsinchu has a seawater desalination facility to house TSMC’s headquarters. A pipeline connects the city to the rainier northern. It has directed the industry towards reducing their usage. It has reduced water pressure in some areas and cut off the supply for up to two days per week. TSMC is one of the companies that has been bringing in truckloads from other regions.

However, the most comprehensive solution has been to stop irrigation. This affects around one-fifth of Taiwan’s arable land.

Tian Shou Shi, a 63-year-old Hsinchu rice farmer, said that “TSMC and these semiconductors do not feel it at all.” “We farmers want to make a decent living.”

Taiwan Water Resources Agency assistant director Wang Yifeng spoke out in defense of the government’s policies. He stated that the dry spell will make it difficult for crops to grow even with irrigation. He stated that it would be a “lose-lose” decision to redirect scarce water to homes and farms rather than factories and homes.

Nina Kao spokeswoman for TSMC, and said that farmers’ water problems are a concern. She also noted the involvement of TSMC in a project to increase irrigation efficiency.

It is paradoxical that Taiwan, which is one of the most rainy places in developed nations, should not have water. This borders on tragedy.

The summer typhoons deposit a lot of the water that residents use. However, the storms can also dump soil from Taiwan’s mountains into its reservoirs. This has slowly reduced the water reservoirs can hold.

Rainfalls can also vary from one year to the next. Last year was the first time that a single typhoon did not land in the rainy seasons. This is the first such event since 1964.

Taiwan stopped large-scale irrigation in 2004 and 2015, when it was trying to conserve water.

“If the same conditions occur in two or three more years, we can state, ‘Ah Taiwan has definitely entered a period of great water shortage,'” said You Jiingyun, professor of civil Engineering at National Taiwan University. We will wait and watch. ”

According to the company, the TSMC facilities at Hsinchu used 63,000 tonnes of water each day in 2019, more than 10% of the water supply from Baoshan Second Reservoir and Baoshan First Reservoir. TSMC saved 3.6 million tonnes of water by increasing recycling and adopting other measures to recycle more than 86 per cent of its manufacturing water this year. This is still a small amount compared to the 63,000,000 tons of water consumed in Taiwanese plants for 2019.

Kuo Yu-ling is Mr. Chuang’s business partner at Hsinchu Farm. He doesn’t like to demonize the chip industry.

Ms. Kuo, 32 said that “Hsinchu Science Park wouldn’t have been as developed as it is today.” She was referring to the main industrial area of the city. She said that TSMC engineers are crucial customers for their rice.

However, it is wrong to accuse farmers, according to Ms. Kuo. They are accused of consuming water and contributing little economically.

She asked, “Can’t we accurately and fairly account how much water farmers use and how much the water industry uses and not continually stigmatize agriculture?”

According to Wang Hsiaowen, a professor at National Cheng Kung University, Taiwan’s biggest problem is the government’s inability to raise water tariffs. This encourages waste.

According to government statistics, households in Taiwan consume 75 gallons per day of water. According to the World Bank, most Western Europeans consume less water than Americans, but Americans consume more.

The Water Resources Agency’s Mr. Wang stated that “adjusting water prices has a significant impact on more vulnerable members of society.” We are very cautious about making adjustments. “Taiwan’s prime Minister stated last month that the government will consider increasing fees for 1,800 water-intensive factories.

Lee Hong-yuan is a professor in hydraulic engineering and was previously Taiwan’s interior minister. He also blames a bureaucratic quagmire for making it difficult to construct new wastewater recycling plants or modernize the pipeline network.

Lee said that other small countries are all very flexible, but we have the operating logic and the operational logic of a large country. This is because Taiwan’s government was established decades after the Chinese Civil War with a goal of governing all of China. Although it has lost this ambition, the bureaucracy has not.

The southwest of Taiwan is both an agricultural hub and an emerging industrial center. The southern city of Tainan is home to the most recent chip facilities at TSMC.

In some areas, the Tsengwen Reservoir has become a swampy stream. The reservoir’s bottom has been transformed into a vast lunarscape along a scenic stretch known as Lovers Park. According to the government, water volume is approximately 11.6 percent of its capacity.

Many growers in Tainan’s farming communities said that they are content to live off the government cent, at least temporarily. They remove the weeds from the fields. They enjoy tea with their friends and take long bike rides.

They also have faith in their future. According to Taiwanese, growing rice seems less important than producing semiconductors for the island and the rest of the world. Heaven, or at the very least greater economic forces, seem to be telling farmers it’s time to look for other jobs.

“Fertilizers are becoming more expensive. Hsieh Tsai Shan, a rice farmer, said that pesticides are becoming more and more costly. Being a farmer is really the worst thing.

The village of Jingliao is surrounded by tranquil farmland. It became a tourist attraction after a documentary about the changing lives and practices of farmers.

Only one cow remains in the town. It is a tourist attraction and does not work in the fields.

Yang Kuei Chuan, a 69-year-old rice farmer, said, “Here 70 counts as young.”

Both Mr. Yang’s sons work in industrial companies.

Yang stated that if Taiwan had no industry, it would have relied solely on agriculture.

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