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Root Cultivating Program Creates New Hopes
A total of 27 communities from northern, central and southern Taiwan participated in the ¡§Charming Villages, Happy Cultivating Root¡¨ conference in February 2008. This conference was held to demonstrate the communities¡¦ accomplishments in community development and to give them a chance to share their experiences with each other. The event triggered an outpouring of passion and love for the rural villages, both in the joyful dancing and in the special agricultural products. The participants were obviously very proud of their hometowns. This is a major accomplishment for the ¡§Root Cultivating Program¡¨ of the Soil and Water Conservation Bureau, and is leading to a new look for these modern villages.
In order to coordinate with the New Taiwan Agricultural Movement initiated by the Council of Agriculture, the Soil and Water Conservation Bureau has continually promoted a series of agriculture development movement. With new ideas and creativity, the agency inserted love and passion into this land. Besides operations related to water and soil conservation and village development, this bureau promoted the ¡§Root Cultivating Program¡¨ allowing more people to participate the development projects, based on the principle of the ¡§villages¡¨ and engaging them to get in touch with the land they live.
The main purpose of the ¡§Root Cultivating Program¡¨ is to provide training and develop quality human resources. The project coordinates local organizations and staffs to conduct the training, which encourages villages to fully participate in the planning, design and development of their hometowns by obtaining a consensus among them. At the same time, it reinforces their sense of belonging and common vision, which makes the village more lively and energetic. The project organizer customizes courses and instructors based on the characteristics and features of the local villages in order to meet the specific needs of each village. These included a ¡§Knowledge Course¡¨, an ¡§Advanced Course¡¨, a ¡§Core Management Course¡¨, and an ¡§Executive Course¡¨ for those who are willing to build a better village and realize the goal of self-sufficiency through these courses.
The ¡§Knowledge Course¡¨ introduces the ideas of soil and water conservation, the concept of village building, and cases of successful village development. The ¡§Advanced Course¡¨ focuses on soil and water conservation improvement, sustainable management, understanding the advantages and disadvantages of particular villages, and preliminary plans for village development. The ¡§Core Management Course¡¨ instructs villagers in overall planning of village construction, creating distinctive features, marketing, theme creation, multi-dimensional strategy and alliances, and international exchange. Courses in the Root Cultivating Program include village development courses based on the specific needs of the local area. Participants in these courses learn from practice so that they gain understanding and will be interested in participating in rural village development. Human resource quality, management of a quality village environment, recognition of local culture and heightened energy are all aims of these courses.
The three courses in the Root Cultivating Program have completed 510 sessions with 13,466 participants in total as of this date. Trained individuals who complete these three courses are certified as an ¡§Executive Officer of Village Development¡¨. They become the seed elite in terms of water and soil conservation as well as village building upon completion of the courses. They are seeds that the Council of Agriculture has cultivated for the new agriculture movement. They will be counted on to reinforce sustainable development of the Root Cultivating Program with their passion, knowledge and experience exchange and realize a bright vision for rural community development.
The ¡§Root Cultivating Program¡¨ has won great praise from villages for its efforts to open up the minds of local residents. It has also sparked their love for their hometown and their ability to realize the goal of self-sufficiency. Thus their standard of living will be improved. For those communities which want to become a member of the Root Cultivating Program, the Soil and Water Conservation Bureau will accept applications in March and April. Qualified applicants will receive visits from staff of the bureau, and the chosen communities will be allowed to participate in the program. Those with only a few residents can join courses in nearby communities. For details, please contact the Engineering Department of the Soil and Water Conservation Bureau in every county government or the charming villages website at http://rural.swcb.gov.tw/.