NKUHT (National Kaohsiung University of Hospitality and Tourism) joined forces with National Kaohsiung Normal University, National Pingtung University of Science and Technology, and Far East University to exhibit the results of university social responsibility projects in Warehouse #3 of Songshan Cultural and Creative Park. Investments were made in Pingtung’s Neipu area to breathe new life into the local cocoa industry, and the results are significant. The exhibit also featured many Taiwanese cocoa brands who competed in the International Cocoa Awards.
Japanese chocolate expert Tsuchiya Kouzi (つちや こうじ) praised Pingtung’s cocoa for its superior quality over its European or Vietnamese competitors, and expects explosive growth from Pingtung’s cocoa industry in the future. As a tropical plant, cocoa grows well in hot and humid environments. Pingtung’s hot summers and frequent afternoon thunderstorms and rainfall match the growth characteristics of cocoa well, and produce beans with strong nutty scents and other unique aromas. Cocoa plantations in Pingtung of Taiwan are also closer to an international airport than any other cocoa plantation in the world, and Pingtung can potentially produce cocoa with the lowest carbon footprints in the world. Pingtung County’s government is diligently promoting its cocoa as the “black gold” of Pingtung. NKUHT joined forces with National Kaohsiung Normal University, National Pingtung University of Science and Technology, and Far East University to execute “Taiwan’s Smiling Cocoa: Local Entrepreneurship in Neipu and International Brand Establishment Project”, and the results were exhibited to the public. Through “My Cocoa Journey”, participants can learn how cocoa is grown and made into chocolate, obtain many souvenirs, and also pay for their own “cocoa beverage mixing” experience, where they may produce a Pingtung style cocoa beverage themselves. The results exhibition also featured the Pingtung County Neipu Township Cultural Advancement Association and many companies who competed in the International Cocoa Awards who traveled up north for the exhibition, including Cocoa Queen, Chufang Plantation, Chuanming Produce Processing & Production Co., ChiusCoco, TC Cocoa Depot, Cocoa Baby, Happy Cocoa Plantation, Kakawa Bean to Bar Ltd., and Hugo Cocoa.
Since assuming her current position, President, Pearl Lin, of NKUHT had been committed to instructor-student relationships, creative entrepreneurship, local investments, and industry globalization. This USR project is focused on the development potential of Pingtung’s cocoa, which is viewed as Taiwan’s black gold, thus resulting in “Taiwan’s Smiling Cocoa: Local Entrepreneurship in Neipu and International Brand Establishment Project”, which is committed to organizing and promoting sustainable cocoa industry development in Neipu of Pingtung. Grounded on the vision of “local entrepreneurship”, local industries were organized, while agricultural experts from National Pingtung University of Science and Technology, culinary development and tourism management experts from NKUHT, biotechnology and health foods experts from Far East University, and visual and industrial design experts from National Kaohsiung Normal University were recruited for this project, the results of which were produced by a “multi-school” effort involving 4 postsecondary schools, 6 centers, 11 “interdisciplinary” departments, 14 university instructors, 2 industry consultants, 280 students, 15 academic classes, 6 analytical consultant groups, 3 food crop education groups, 23 companies from relevant industries, and 8 training classes. The 4 schools involved are visibly committed to this project and truly upheld the university social responsibilities between instructors and students as academic resources were invested locally to give back to local industries. Hopefully, investments of academic resources, coupled with the passion and energy of local industries, will lead to prosperous cocoa industry developments in Pingtung.