Farmland speculation is a serious issue in Taiwan. Around our country, many farmlands are not used to cultivate crops, but are brought to build up illegal factories or “mega cottages.” Due to these non-agricultural usages, farmland has become a popular “real estate commodity” and its price has soared in recent years, which makes lots of young farmers unable to buy farmland. Good farmlands are lost, and crop production is decreasing.
To discover how bad the situation is, Apple Daily journalists spent 10 months doing research on farmland price data and visiting various farmlands in numerous towns around Taiwan.
First, we’ve cooperated with data researching company “Taiwanstat” to analyze the farmland price growth in the last six years. Totally, we have compiled data of more than 120 thousand farmland transactions in Taiwan and found out that during the recent years, the average farmland price has hiked up three times. According to official data, in 2010, the price is 15 million Taiwanese dollars per acre, but now, the price has soared to 48 million.
Second, by compiling the data provided by the international real estate research company “Savills,” we also discovered that farmland price in Taiwan is the highest in the world. According to Savills’s report, the farmland price in Australia is solely 65 thousand Taiwanese dollars per acre, while the price in U.K is 780 thousand, which are both much cheaper than Taiwan.
Third, we’ve collected and restructured the data of farmland transactions in six years, and presented the information on our feature story website. The information is totally open to the public. For example, we have divided Taiwan into four main areas: North, Central, South, and East, and then we highlighted dozens of towns with highest farmland price rise on the map.
In addition, on the last part of the feature story, we’ve presented readers a complete country map which shows every town’s data. Thus, any reader, researcher, student, or journalist could reuse the information on the map, and develop their own analysis.
What makes this project innovative?
In terms of the big data about farmland price in Taiwan, the most reliable source is “Searching Site of Real Estate Transaction Price” created by Taiwan’s interior ministry. The site compiles data from the whole country, containing millions of valuable transaction data. However, readers can only search information about single area on the site. So they aren’t able to compare the price of one town with another directly. To solve the above issue, we’ve cooperated with a data gathering company to compile the big data on the official cite. First, we defined our research areas and began collecting the farmland transaction data of 257 townships around Taiwan. The period of big data is the six years from 2012 to 2018. Second, we ranked the farmland prices of different places in three aspects: price, growth, and transaction cases. For instance, by compiling the big data, we realized that the city with the highest price rise is New Taipei City, which is 117%. When it comes to transaction, Taoyuan ranks No.1 with 16795 cases in six years. As a result, readers can access to our database, and do their own further investigation based on our open data. For example, if the students of Department of Land Economy wanted to know more about farmland transaction in a certain area, they could definitely find something useful on our database.
What was the impact of your project? How did you measure it?
Our investigative feature report has won great acclaim after the publication. First of all, over 10 Taiwanese news outlets have quoted our report, and produced their own in-depth stories about farmland price and speculation in Taiwan. The media reports have raised the public’s awareness about this issue. For example, many non-profit environmental organizations have called on the government to save farmlands from speculation. Second, the government has promised to solve the issue after we published the in-depth story. The Counsel of Agriculture in Taiwan’s Executive Yuan admitted that Taiwan’s farmlands are the most expensive in the world, while said it would crack down on the illegal factories built on farmland.
Source and methodology
Our main big data source is Searching Site of Real Estate Transaction Price” created by Taiwan’s interior ministry.( https://lvr.land.moi.gov.tw/login.action) Also, we use a Taiwanese map to show readers the information in a direct way. We not only collected the big data from the official website, but also rearranged and ranked it in order to make readers easier to understand it. The database is open to the public and available for readers to search information easily. We hope our feature story could become an important reference cite for other journalists or researchers who care about our farmlands.
Po Chun Ho, journalist. Liang Ju Hou, journalist. Yi Jing Wu, journalist. Wei Chou Chen, journalist. Ting Jen Chen, journalist. Huan Cheng Lin, journalist. Charles Wang, visual designer. Kristi Hu, visual designer. King Hsueh, visual designer. Tiffany Keng, engineer.