No. 1 chip-maker unveils tea factory in central Taiwan
The China Post news staff
April 8, 2012, 12:00 am TWN
The China Post news staff--Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), the global number one in the industry, yesterday unveiled a new plant in the mountains of central Taiwan — not to make computer chips, but tea.
The tea plant is part of a project to help Alishan's indigenous people rebuild their homeland, devastated by Typhoon Morakot in 2009.
The chip-maker has donated NT$70 million in reconstruction funds to help the area get back on its feet.
Apart from the tea plant, it has built a bamboo shoot processing factory, an agricultural produce sales and exhibition center, and a performing area for the indigenous people to showcase their traditional songs and dances.
The reconstruction project was first conceived by TSMC Chairman Morris Chang's wife, Sophie Chang, but building a tea plant in the mountains proved much more difficult than expected.
“It may take us three months to construct a wafer fab, but it took us a year to build this tea plant,” Arthur Chuang, director of TSMC's New Fab Planning and Engineering Division, was cited by the United Evening News as saying.
Chuang said a wafer fabrication plant costs at least NT$100 billion to build, but there was much more to learn when trying to set up a tea plant that cost only NT$10 million.
The TSMC team for the project had to first learn about tea making techniques, and decide what kinds of equipment would be needed.
The construction process was also made difficult by the location of the plant. Transporting cement was a major issue as the roads leading to the site were small.
It was also a lot of hard work for the TSMC volunteers who helped with the construction, Chuang said. The Hsinchu-based employees had to travel about 500 kilometers to and from the site every week, he added.
The tea production of the plant is expected to generate NT$15 million in revenue annually. TSMC will continue to help improve the tea business by helping the locals to develop more value-added products.
TSMC hopes that the tea plant can increase the locals' income by 15 to 20 percent.
The company's own annual revenues amount to more than NT$400 billion.