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Experience farm life before you make a decision to become a farmer
Whether you are a new graduate or are thinking about a career change, if you have a hankering to get involved in the agriculture sector, read the following advice from people who have already made the change before you make a final decision, as that could help you become a successful farmer.
Advantage of graduating from agriculture school: Strong professional background and theoretical foundation. Disadvantage of graduating from agriculture school: Lack of cross-industry integration experience.
"Whether or not you are a new graduate from an agriculture school, secure an internship at a farm before you go into the business. Not until you have accumulated enough experience should you gradually start your own career, "says Mr. Cheng-yu Hsu, a rice farmer born in the eighties.
According to Hsu, the low ratio of graduates from agriculture school entering the sector is attributable to misunderstanding about the future of agriculture. With the rise of the technology sector and the country's top 100 firms having become favorite employers among new graduates, the labor-intensive agricultural industry has become less and less attractive to them. In Hsu's case, his decision to get involved in agriculture was also opposed by his family. Against all odds, however, he insists that agriculture still has a bright future.
He has adopted a variety of measures, including using machines to reduce manpower, proper me of fertilizers and effective pesticide management, to help reduce costs and increase revenue, but estimates that the net income of his six hectares of paddy in a six-month period is only about NT$180,000 -- a little higher than the average starting salary for a new college graduate. Compared to the total working time over the six-month period, however, Hsu argues that he has more flexibility than people engaged in other industries, given that he spends a total of only one month of the six actually working on the land.
With their technical and theoretical background, students who graduate from agriculture school can compete strongly in the agricultural sector, with their success relying on how well they apply what they have learned in school to actual practical farming.
Advantage of people switching careers into agriculture: Full of enthusiasm and interested in cross-industry integration. Disadvantage of people switching careers into agriculture: Lack of farming knowledge.
Mr. Yu-ling Liu has been involved in organic farming for over 10 years and recalls that many people made an impetuous decision to go organic only because it was one of the hottest areas for farmers. However, once they found out the size of the gap between their dreams and reality, they were forced to quit, losing their investment in land and equipment. "It is worth working on someone else's farm before you begin on your own, "Liu says.
"I took advantage of my previous work experience," he added. "The accounting classes I took and experience of selling insurance helped me deal with the problems of inventory management, marketing strategy and sales channels."
"Agriculture is more than just production, " he points out. "Diversification, innovation and combination are the key factors to raising your competitiveness and finding your niche."