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Blessings and Expectation An Overseas Apprenticeship for Wandervogel Trainees


In order to recruit novice farmers and vitalize farming force, the Council of Agriculture has set in motion the New Agriculture Movement --Wandervogel Project—since last year to allow the younger generation to learn more about agriculture and motivate them to join the ranks of farming business. Ever since its implementation, it has generated a great impact. As of the end of July this year, there have already been 150 trainees who chose to commit themselves to farming. In order to encourage youngsters to go into farming and broaden the vision of these novice farmers by acquiring the farming experiences from advanced countries, COA has planned and implemented Overseas Apprenticeship Project for Wandervogel trainees and held a public testing and selection session, in which those Wandervogel trainees who are equipped with the proficiency of a second language and have already gone into farming were picked and sent to Germany and Japan for apprenticeship. The Minister of COA, Mr. Chia-ch’uan Su, went out of his way to give them a reception on the eve of their departure on August 30 to give them blessings, wishing them a fruit-bearing trip. He enjoined them to persist in their efforts, to accomplish the self-realization to grow into modern novice farmers armed with top-notch managerial skills as well as state-of-the-art technology.

COA indicated that, in order to conduct the project, it has laid down ground rules for testing and selecting Wandervogel trainees for overseas apprenticeship. It officially informed those trainees, who have taken part in and completed the training of Wandervogel project and who have devoted themselves to farming business, of the opportunity to sign up for the testing and selection session and has also organized a reviewing team. Having gone through personal portfolio review and oral tests, six applicants stood out as eminent Wandervogel trainees and they are Zhelung Hsieh, Guoshang Wu, Shoumei Lo, Yuchuen Zhuang, Chiaoyan Lai and Zuolung Liu. They were sent to Germany and Japan to acquire the most advanced agricultural know-how and will be apprenticed to the advanced mode of agricultural management.

COA said that the rationale behind selecting Germany and Japan as this year’s model countries, where Wandervogel apprenticeship is conducted, is that the agricultural environment in Japan is similar to that in Taiwan and its production of organic vegetables sets up an example for Taiwan to follow, and that Germany is home to Wandervogel project adopted by COA. And Germany boasts of its double- track vocational education system where both instruction and farm apprenticeship receive equal emphasis, which offers an excellent opportunity for youngsters who have a mind to go into farming to receive agricultural hands-on training. In the overseas apprenticeship project, COA will join hands with local farms and farmers to arrange for an opportunity of a one-month apprenticeship on the farm. COA subsidized two thirds of the apprenticeship costs, while the participants were responsible for the remaining costs. After the six trainees go back home, apart from having to bring up a written report on what they have learned, they will be required to go to various Wandervogel camps to share what they have learned and what knowledge and skills they have acquired from this apprenticeship trip to augment the results of their apprenticeship and serve as the seeding members who spread out knowledge.

COA went on to explain that, ever since the launching of Wandervogel project, starting from hands-on experiences with Wandervogel camps and advanced training to build nests, COA has also initiated various follow-up counseling packaging measures one by one, which includes upgrading their professional skills, helping trainees who went into farming take part in professional training, amending regulations related to lending out loans, providing financial aid to special cases, establishing Farmland Bank, setting up service platform providing information on farmland’s sales and lease to enable novice farmers to gain an easier access to information on farmland’s sales and lease and obtain assistance, and having COA’s district Agricultural Research and Extension Stations as centers providing responsible counseling services. In order to induce youngsters to go into farming business in a more practical way, COA has planned to give on-the-farm hands-on training to those youngsters who make their mind to go into farming. Apart from the overseas Wandervogel apprenticeship, COA has also visited domestic professional farms and recreational farms, which are willing to provide an opportunity for Wandervogel trainees to go to these farms for apprenticeship to receive a master-apprentice type guidance to take part in agricultural production and management so that the risk of their making inexperienced ventures can be reduced.

COA indicated that, due to the aging of agricultural labor force and a discrepancy in their educational levels, the adoption of and effects generated from the application of new technologies and new concepts are limited, which exerted a negative influence on the speed at which agricultural technology and management skills are advanced. COA has designed a series of projects to vitalize farming force in New Agriculture Movement, and, in the process of setting them in motion, it has keenly felt the overflowing joy coming from those participants who came into contact with agriculture, their appreciation of the government’s efforts to further agricultural policies and the expectation of those trainees who went into farming for a promising future. COA hopes to upgrade Taiwan’s agriculture by improving the quality of farming force through recruiting novice farmers and, by means of a counseling mechanism, help those who choose to go into farming master their management skill, thereby laying a solid foundation for further agricultural development.