In order to upgrade the quality of Taiwan’s farming force, the Council of Agriculture planned a series of projects to vitalize farming force in New Agriculture Movement program, including Wandervogel project, which induces youngsters to go into farming, Gardener project, which encourages people in prime years to return to the countryside, and Deep-plowing project, which innovates farmers’ concepts of management. And all these projects are put into practice in the hope of injecting into traditional agriculture a steam of living waters to respond to the new agricultural challenges and to accelerate the modernization of Taiwan’s agriculture.
COA noted that learning through first-hand experiences is the new trend in today’s education and training and it is also a very effective training method. COA launched Wandervogel project, hoping to allow youngsters aged from 18 to 35 to go to the rural area to learn and experience for themselves, to have a hands-on participation in farming work and to grasp the characteristics of local agriculture and the way to produce high quality agricultural products by means of planned courses combining lectures and first-hand experiences. Those who go one step further to identify themselves with farming workers and take an interest in farming business may sign up for advanced training offered in other nest-building camps to become “the birds to stay” in the agricultural sector.
COA indicated that, in order to reinforce the follow-up assistance to those trainees who intend to go into farming, it has integrated the resources of the agencies affiliated with COA to implement a string of aiding measures by providing trainees who have completed their training with upgraded professional know-how and financial loan assistance and setting up a consultation and guidance system. These measures also include establishing a special Wandervogel website, constructing a Gardener mailbox in Agriculture and Food Agency and setting up a single counseling window in agricultural research and extension stations located in various districts with an aim to helping the trainees solve difficulties and problems arising from agricultural management and offering services of consultation, counseling and recommendation. To improve their farming technology, COA also held training programs for farmers to fill in to receive further professional training, obtaining a more advanced agricultural production and marketing knowledge. To enhance the practical capabilities of the youngsters who choose to go into farming business, carry out the project for Wandervogel trainees to have hands-on experiences on farms, and, at the same time, to amend “Methods to Help Expand the Managerial Scale of Family Farms and Help Farmers to Take Out Loans to Purchase Farmland” and “Points for Farmers to Follow to Take Out Loans to Improve Agricultural Management”, COA has loosened its restrictions on financing the Wandervogel trainees who have completed their training to help them resolve their financial problems. COA has also planned to launch a Farmland Exchange Platform of Farmland Bank to help farmers purchase or rent farmland through local farmers’ associations so as to make it easier for farmers who are new in the business to find a proper plot of farmland for agricultural production.
COA put a lot of stress on these two projects, which started running in 2006 and reviewed the process in which they were being carried out. According to the questionnaires responded by the trainees who completed their training, these two projects were met with high recognition by the participants. Over 90 percent of the respondents expressed their satisfaction with the overall performance by evaluating them to be good or excellent and 50 percent of trainees expressed their willingness to go into farming business after receiving the training. In order to track the follow-up of the trainees who completed their training and chose to go into farming business, in May 2006, COA has conducted a survey targeting the trainees who had completed their training last year ( 2006 ). According to statistics, there are 195 youngsters who chose to go into farming business and there are 118 participants aged over 35 who were participants of Gardener project and have chosen to go into farming business. Due to their warm reception by their participants, after having reviewed how they were conducted in the previous year and made some partial revisions of implementing regulations, COA has created 2,100 more vacancies in Wandervogel project for people to fill in to participate in the training, and, at the same time, has created 3,220 vacancies for people aged over 35 to fill in to participate in the training. And almost all vacancies have been filled in.
COA indicated that talents are an important asset in agricultural industry and the quality of human resources is crucial to the long-term development of the industry. Among the recipients of Saturnian Awards in recent years, one can see the promising young successors of agriculture or men and women in their prime years who made their mid-career change and became a success in farming, in all of whom one sees the promise of modernized agricultural business. The cultivation and training of human resources is a time-consuming job, and it may be difficult to see any concrete result in the short run. However, seen from the process in which Wandervogel project was being implemented, the number of trainees who were interested in farming business rose from 18 percent before their participation to 55 percent after their participation, we feel the pleasures the participants felt in coming into contact with farming and appreciate the efforts made by the government to improve the domestic agricultural production environment. COA hopes to upgrade the quality of farming force through a variety of foundation-laying efforts like introducing novice farmers and cultivating farmers who are currently in the business, and, through the counseling mechanism, help people who go into farming business improve their management efficiency, thereby laying a solid foundation for further agricultural development of Taiwan.