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Watch as Taiwan's Agriculture Transforms
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Watch as Taiwan's Agriculture Transforms

As the facade of Taiwanese farmers increasingly diversify, how does the urban set view the modern farmer? The latest survey conducted by the Council of Agriculture, Executive Yuan "worldwide information network," as many as 23% of those interviewed consider that farmers these days are getting younger and younger, while 68% of the interviewees believe that the modern farmer is capable of saving enough money, rather than engaging in agriculture as just a way to support the family. Respondents reckon that the greatest change found in the country's agricultural villages in the past few years is the rise of leisure agriculture, while as many as 78% of the interviewees indicate that the advantage of Taiwan's agriculture lies in added-value rendered by leisure agriculture. This coincides with the COA policy approach to upgrade the agricultural industry from first tier to third tier. It has also been found from the survey that 70% of the interviewees believe that if there can be better technology or talented people, the prospect of development for Taiwan's agriculture industry is good.

In order to appreciate the opinion and views of urbanites toward modern farmers, the COA agriculture worldwide information network has conducted a network survey from the 27th December, 2006 to 10th January, 1007, and the results published are as follows:
-- As a whole, 2,622 individuals responded to the survey
-- Male to female ratio is 2:3
-- Age distribution of the interviewees:
 20 to 35, 81%,
 20 to 25, 38.4%, and
 26 to 35, 42.3%.
 Students 31.4%.
-- People who work in commercial enterprises, 28.1%
-- Interviewees with a college education, 71%
-- Residence
-- Northern Taiwan 1,655 (63.1%)
-- Central Taiwan 497
-- Eastern Taiwan 54
Those having no family member in agriculture 71.8%
Those whose occupation does not directly involve agriculture 91.4%

These numbers allow us to conclude that further study is required to determine whether or not opinions about agriculture is influenced by whether or not their income involves agricultural production.

The facade of modern farmer is changing. How and to what degree does metropolitan folks' view of today’s farmers differ from how they used to think? We should witness such difference from the aspect of age, educational background, and income.

It is indicated from the survey that most interviewees believe that Taiwanese farmers are considered to be aged over 45 either from their previous impression or views today. However, there is rather a well-noted difference of opinion toward younger farmers ages between 30 -45. Interviewees reckon that farmers of this age group amount to 8% and that now it amounts to 23%. , which indeed indicates that interviewee realize that the age of Taiwanese farmer is winding up younger and younger

As for the educational level of farmer, 52% of the interviewees believe farmers in the past are generally uneducated, and illiterate, only 3% of them believe farmers enjoy high school or college education. Nonetheless, for farmers today, 7% of interviewees believe that farmers can read, as for a high school or greater education, 59%. [Chinese unclear as to what 59% means], showing that interviewees reckon the educational level of modern farmers today has been enhanced significantly.

Interviewees also share tremendous difference toward the income of farmer today and in the past. 82% of the interviewees believe that farmer in the past have to rely on grace of weather to harvest, and can hardly make their ends meet. Or what they earning could merely support their family; however, interviewees share different views for farmers today. As indicated from the survey, only 31% of the interviewees believe that farmers today rely on the grace of weather to survive their harvest, with great drastic reduction from the previous one. Among those 2,622 individuals of interviewees, 44% of them consider if farmer today farm the right crop or know about marketing, the profit of their trade can be tremendous, while 24% of the interviewees believe the income of farmer today has already reached that of average level.
  
In terms of model for agricultural management, 84% of the interviewees consider that farmer in the past continues to run their business with traditional management because they simply inherit family business. However, interviewee express that the management model of farmer today has changed drastically; only 7% of them believe that they retain traditional way of management, while as high as 40% of them reckon that farmer today know how to make use of technology, with 40% of them have invested on the transformation of production development, while 39% them have joined farmer organization (cooperative or production and marketing squad of the farming association).

With the change of trend in times, it has helped shifting the role-play of agriculture incessantly. From the very early times that agriculture is mainly to produce staple crops, it is now being transformed to leisure farms throughout the island, and agriculture has turned itself into the trade that helps people to be released of pressure and settle themselves spiritually and physically. Agriculture has been elevated from first-tier industry to that of the tertiary-tier, and the view and opinion of the mass towards agriculture are very much different from that of the past, which can be observed from this survey.

There is great difference among interviewees regarding its role-play and opinions for Taiwan's agriculture in the past and today. 92% of the interviewees consider the role-play of agriculture in the past is mainly of production of agriculture product, while those for today it is now merely 48%. On the other hand, 80% and 71% of the interviewees respectively believe that agriculture is endowed with the utility of leisure recreation and assisting development of agricultural bio-tech, ranking at the first and second position.

What are the advantages of Taiwan's agriculture? 78% of the interviewees point out that it is of the added-value rendered by the leisure farming which tops all other factors, seconded by the factor that 69% of the interviewees consider the introduction of novel idea of management and focus on marketing are advantageous; for the third advantageous conditions, 65% of the interviewees believe products that are healthy and natural should provide consumer with fresh and seasonal agricultural products, while 55% of the interviewees believe that the improvement of technology helps lower production cost is the other advantage.

Then, what are the advantageous conditions for the development of Taiwan's agricultural products? The top three conditions are believed respectively as the research of peripheral product for the enhancement of added-value, with a headcount of 68% among the interviewees; second, it is of the attention given to the image of brand name and package of agricultural product, with a headcount of 60% among the interviewees; third, 32% of the interviewees consider that less expensive pricing than imported agricultural products is one of our advantages.

61% of the interview results reckon that what is most inadvantageous to the development of Taiwan's agriculture is of environmental pollution and booming proliferation of manufacturing plants. After our accession into WTO, 60% of the interviewees believe the most inadvantageous factor is of the competition would become lot more fierce, 50% of the interviewees consider that agricultural value is not being looked upon with due attention, while 47% of them think that aging structure of farming population.

Only 6% of the interviewees consider Taiwan's agriculture is a dawning industry, about to fade out, while as many as 70% of the interviewees believe that if there is better talent or technology there can be good prospect for Taiwan's agriculture, and as many as 14% of the interviewees see brilliantly with the future of agricultural development.

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