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COA's Policies on Attracting Young Generation Farmers and Providing Aged Farmers' Life Care
I. Statement of policies
To take care of farmers, the government presents policies for both young and elderly farmers respectively, including human resource training of young farmers, young farmers′ farm operation and new technology education as well as support system for aged farmers’ life. The goal is to help farmers devoting themselves wholeheartedly to agriculture so that to continue the industry’s vitality.
1. Improve agricultural human resources quality
(1) Establishing the Farmers’ Academy for the training of young farmers
In order to encourage young people to return to their hometowns for agricultural industry development, the Council of Agriculture (COA) worked out a series of new projects for training young agricultural manpower, such as gradually implementing the Wandervogel Project and Gardener Project. These two experiential and training projects attract young people to get close to agriculture, understand agriculture, and eventually join in agricultural business. Starting from 2009, the agricultural short-term vocational training and farm apprenticeship program have cultivated new young generation interested in agriculture, which symbolically injects new water into traditional agriculture. After realizing new agricultural technology and industrial diversity and innovation, these beginning farmers become very modernized and vibrant. Established in 2011, the Farmers’ Academy integrates agricultural research, educational and promotional resources, to build a complete system of agricultural educational training. Moreover, it holds systematic programs of agricultural educational training, which provides opportunities of agricultural lifelong learning for those interested in agriculture. In addition, the academy adds management courses to enhance farmers’ management ability, cultivate many talents good at agricultural enterprise management, as a result, improving Taiwan's agricultural competitiveness.
(2) Farm apprenticeship program
In its systematical training, the Farmers’ Academy provides opportunities of farm apprenticeship for trainees after primary training or other agricultural professional training as well as for graduates from university's agriculture-related departments. It aims to enhance new farmers’ ability of agricultural practice and accelerate diverse developments of agricultural business.
(3) Youth Project for young farmers
To encourage more young people to engage in agriculture, the Youth Project, launched from June 2013, selects 100 youths every two years and provides two-year one-by-one assistant packages. The packages include helping individual farmers with production and marketing operations, offering them facilities and low-interest loans, teaching them professional knowledge of agricultural management, assisting the rental of farmland, and building channels with selling markets. The project aims to help young farmers operate steadily in the early stage and further expand business scale or develop effective value-added ways. As a result, Taiwan’s agricultural sector is expected to be reactivated.
(4) Local young farmers’ exchange experience through local organizations and consultation
The COA has instructed municipal and county (city) governments to establish service and exchange platforms for young farmers, to inspect how young farmers manage in this area, and to provide local information, apprenticeship and agricultural guidance services. Moreover, it encourages young farmers to cooperate mutually, enhances organizational operation, overall marketing capability, improves assistance, service and support for local young farmers. Furthermore, it hosts comprehensive marketing events with various resources, inclusive of combining theme exhibition and sale promotion activities, organizing training courses about marketing or customer service, and offering a selling management system. The goal is to stabilize their products markets and revenues, lead young farmers to cooperate together, and improve the quality, diversity and competitiveness of their products.
2. Programs of information and service platform under the Farmers’ Academy
In association with the establishment of the Farmer’s Academy, the COA sets up an Internet information and service platform as a window of educational training for farmers, which provides online enrollment, payment management, farm apprenticeship matchmaking, farm products marketing system, digital courses learning, information of agricultural management and Internet community.
3. Promote rural youths’ agricultural education and community service
It aims to cultivate rural young people into “all-around” youths, helping local farmers’ associations promote youths’ agricultural education and community service. Young people are educated to begin from understanding agriculture and caring about communities, thus later becoming the new vital power for agriculture and rural community development.
4. Strengthen management of farmers’ groups and organizations
It helps farmers’ associations cultivate high-quality human resources and bring association staff close to each other. Also, it assists farmers’ associations with transformation into innovative management, development of diversified economic businesses, production and marketing of new products, and enhancement of associations’ service functions, etc.
Moreover, it hosts the selection and marketing of agricultural and fishery boutiques, instructing farmers’ and fishermen’s associations to put emphasis on the principle of “careful selection and local production” and to produce healthy and quality agricultural products. In addition, it helps associations construct retailing channels, improve consumers’ recognition of Taiwan’s agricultural and fishery products, increase sales of farmers’ agricultural and fishery products and upgrade the associations’ image.
5. Construct farmers’ life support system
As the aging problem is serious in rural areas, it is important to improve rural life by helping farmers improve their living skills, helping the elderly adopt healthy lifestyle, strengthening self-health management, and implementing rural people with health and disease prevention education.
(1) Enhance rural women’s living ability
To put into practice lifelong learning for rural women, the farmers’ associations organize “family service classes” in rural areas, in which educational training courses are arranged to improve women’s homemaking capacity, strengthen their autonomy and independence, and further open up new sources of income.
(2) Prompt the rural elderly to grow actively
It helps farmers’ associations host different life improving classes for the elderly, including knowing more about the information of depression and suicide prevention, improving diet nutrition, preventing infectious diseases, understanding temperature change, for them to adjust lifestyle properly. In addition, also, to boost association staff’s creativity, improve rural life quality, activate rural culture and prevent elderly farmers from having a boring life. For example, the “creative learning activities” are held for the rural elderly. The elderly are encouraged to set up groups, to join in music, dance and other activities, so that they can enjoy a wonderful elderly life.
6. Take care of farmers’ and fishermen’s welfare and maintain their rights
(1) Grant Elderly Farmers’ Welfare Allowance
To take better care of elderly farmers’ and fishermen’s life and increase their welfare, the government announced the implementation of the Provisional Regulations Governing the Elderly Farmers’ Welfare Allowance Program on May 31, 1995. From the government’s budget, the welfare allowance was given to elderly farmers in their later life. Those aged over 65 years old or older qualified for getting the monthly allowance of NT$3,000 per person. On January 1, 2012, the monthly allowance increased to NT$7,000. On July 16, 2014, some parts of the regulations are amended. The period of qualified farmers’ participation in farmers health insurance is adjusted from six months to 15 years, which can actually take care of elderly farmers engaged in agriculture for a long time. Moreover, the allowance recipient must stay in the country over 183 days every year in the past three years.
(2) Grant Education Financial Aid for the Children of Farmers and Fishermen whose children are studying in colleges, senior high schools or vocational schools
To implement the care of farmers and fishermen, and prevent their children from losing opportunities to attend senior high schools, vocational schools or colleges due to their economic disadvantages, the Executive Yuan, based on the policy of looking after disadvantaged groups, launched the Education Financial Aid for the Children of Farmers and Fishermen in August 2003, the financial aid between NT$3,000 and NT$10,000 for each student.
(3) Provide agricultural natural disaster relief
In Taiwan, natural disasters easily cause serious agricultural damage and affect farmers’ or fishermen’s income. To alleviate the burden of these damages for farmers and fishermen, the COA draws the Implementation Regulations of Agricultural Natural Disaster Relief based on the Article 60 of the Statue on Agricultural Development Act, providing various measures, such as cash, grants or low-interest loans, to help farmers or fishermen able to resume production quickly after the disaster to stabilize the agricultural and fishery production and farmer's income.