AVRDC headquarters is located adjacent to the Southern Taiwan Science Park, just south of Shanhua, Tainan City in southern Taiwan, on a 117-hectare campus containing research fields, laboratories, glasshouses, administration buildings and accommodation for international staff, students and guests. Most of the Center’s experimental work is conducted at headquarters, where approximately two-thirds of our staff are based.
The research farm comprises 100 hectares of flood irrigated research fields, including 5 hectares that are nationally certified for organic production and 6 hectares nationally certified for biotech crop research. A flood mitigation program in conjunction with the neighboring Science Park secures the farm from storm damage. The Center is equipped with 40 nethouses mainly used for regeneration of genebank accessions and 72 glasshouses for year-round crop production. A secure negative pressure high-tech glasshouse is available for biotech research. The Center produces its own compost for use experimental use.
Labs include equipment for specialized research in chemistry/biochemistry, nutrition, microbiology, molecular biology, entomology, plant physiology and soil science. Special facilities include an insectory, High Performance Liquid Chromatography, Near Infrared Spectroscopy, Gas Chromatography, freeze-drier, image analyzer and facilities for the analysis of essential nutrients and phytocompounds. Separate rooms are used for tissue culture, staining, electrophoresis and the handling of radioactive materials. An animal room and cell culture room are also available for nutritional and functional studies.
Standard procedures for DNA extraction of several plant and microbial species are used. The biotechnology laboratories consist of dedicated DNA, RNA, molecular marker and transgenic laboratories. Facilities include PCR and real time PCR facilities with robotics for fully automated sample preparation. Li-cor sequencers are available for SSR (simple sequence repeat) and AFLP (amplified fragment length polymorphic) marker analysis. A PCR-based SNP (single nucleotide polymorphic) marker genotyping facility is also available.
Virology has well equipped laboratories for the serological and molecular detection, identification and characterization of plant viruses. There are also insect-proof glasshouses, screen houses and growth rooms where mechanical and vector transmission of plant viruses is routinely performed to indicator test plants as well as for screening germplasm and breeders lines for resistance to important virus diseases.
The world’s largest public collection of vegetable germplasm is housed in the AVRDC Genebank. Two long term storage units with a total floor area of 52 m2, kept at -10 to -15 ºC contain orthodox vegetable seeds, and there are six medium-term storage rooms with a total floor area of 96 m2, operating at 5 ºC and 40-45% RH, and one short-term storage with a floor area of 105 m2, operated at 15 ºC and 40% RH. Vegetables that are vegetatively propagated such as shallot and garlic are maintained as living plants in field genebanks, and there is a tissue culture laboratory for in vitro conservation of germplasm and embryo rescue activities.
The AVRDC Library, located within the main lab building, offers a collection of more than 1500 journals, 12,000 monographs and almost 16,000 crop publications. The Library Online is accessible to all Center researchers and other users.
Living in Taiwan
Taiwan combines a rich traditional Chinese culture with modern high-tech lifestyles, a well-developed economy and efficient infrastructure. It has a population of approximately 21 million, with most people living on the narrow strip of alluvial plains along the west coast. The main island is approximately 400 km long and 140 km wide and about two-thirds is mountainous and forested. Taiwan straddles the Tropic of Cancer, and the climate in southern Taiwan is tropical for most of the year, with high humidity and occasional heavy rain during summer. In winter, the evenings can be quite cool. Mandarin is the most widely spoken language, with more Taiwanese speakers in the south where the Center is located. English is commonly spoken in larger cities.
The AVRDC campus provides a congenial, safe and pleasant environment for staff and visitors. All international staff live on campus in ranch-style houses for families or apartments for singles or married couples. Guest rooms and self-contained apartments are available for visiting scholars and consultants. All accommodation is air-conditioned, furnished and maintained by campus maintenance staff. The campus has high-speed internet access and homes have access to cable or satellite TV. Daily English language newspapers can be delivered upon request.
Campus sports facilities including a 50-meter pool and a wading pool for small children, two tennis courts, basketball and volleyball courts and a billiards and table tennis room.
A gym with indoor pool, basketball and badminton courts, and exercise classes is located in the nearby Nanke Science Park. The city of Tainan, a 15-minute train ride or 30-minute drive from the campus, has many cinemas, cultural performances, and restaurants. The Center is located 20 km from the seacoast, and mountainous national parks are within a 30-minute drive from campus.
Shopping and medical services
The AVRDC campus is about 2 km south of Shanhua, a town with a population of around 40,000. Shanhua has a day and evening wet market, several supermarkets, pharmacies, restaurants, electronic stores and other shops and services. Tainan, a city of about 1 million inhabitants, is located about 20 km south of the Center, and provides amenities common to most large urban areas.
High quality medical care from English speaking doctors is available at the ChiMei Hospital clinic in the Science Park, less than 10 minutes from the Center. Excellent medical and dental services are available from the ChiMei hospitals in Tainan or Liouying, about a 30-minute drive from the Center.
Taiwan offers excellent public transportation and an extensive highway system. The closest international airport is in Kaohsiung, one hour to the south by car or an hour and a half by train. Train stations in Shanhua and Nanke are five minutes by car from the Center. Trains are inexpensive, frequent and reliable. The High Speed Rail (HSR) bullet train passes within sight of the Center and can reach Taipei in northern Taiwan in an hour and forty minutes. The nearest HSR station is in Tainan, about a 35-minute drive from the Center.
There are several good kindergartens, elementary and high schools near the Center for English-speaking students, including the Living Waters Kindergarten, National Nanke International Experimental High School (K-12), and two international schools in Kaohsiung: Morrison Academy or Kaohsiung American School.