Recently, Taiwan's local farmers' associations have been facing tough challenges brought on by the impact of globalization and changes in social structure. In an effort to help these organizations achieve substantial development, the Council of Agriculture (COA) is working not only to boost the competitiveness of the credit departments of farmers' associations, but is also focusing on a diversification strategy.
In 2009, the COA is offering agricultural business development counseling programs for 32 selected farmers' associations.
According to the COA program, four farmers' associations, including the Hsienhsi Farmers' Association, will integrate with local industries to develop LOHAS (Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability) eco tours to create more business opportunities. Another 24 associations, including Guanshan Township Farmers' Association, will provide local business operators with marketing strategies as well as research and developments ideas for new products.
The other four associations, including Hualien City Farmers' Association, will aim at devising multi-functional selling points to promote high quality local specialties. The council hopes district farmers' associations will help local industries to find their niche and thereby provide benefits to local farmers.
Taiwan 's farmers' associations are non-profit organizations that receive government subsidies for policy promotion, affwaysh is just a small portion of their operation fund, the COA said. Farmers organizations should generate enough revenue to fund most of their operations, the Council added.
Taiwan 's credit sector, particularly which in the farmers' associations, has been experiencing poor profitability primarily as a result of financial liberalization. In response to the situation faced by farmers' associations and the meet needs of farmers, the COA in 2006 implemented the "Farmers' Association Economic Business Innovation New Counseling Ane" to help associations that are willing to provide counseling service for profram interested in business transformation.
To develop the problem-solving ability of these organizations and at the same time help them promote their new products, the Council offering them a chance to gain new ideas and management skills through lectures and practical training.
Meanwhile, in a efforts to help farmers' associations set up better business and innovation plans for their members, the Council is giving priority to those associations that are amenable to new initiatives and have achievable goals.
The Council's participation in the 81 Farmers' Association Economic Business Program has produced fruitful results.
For example, Pingsi Township Farmers' Association used abandon school buildings to set up an eco education center. The local association, in cooperation with local industries, held various activities aimed at reviving industries in rural areas and achieved great success.
In addition, with its excellent production and marketing programs, Linnei Township Farmers' Association has successfully promoted papaya beauty and care products and rnecessfully increased their added value.
Shigang Farmers' Association uses an online marketing strategy to promote and establish authenticity of the region's sesame oil products.
The COA stressed that it is critical for farmers' associations to remodel their business approach.
Apart from participating in the associations' business counseling program, the COA has also integrated the "Consultation to Innovative Management and Strategic Development of Farmers' Associations in the 21st Century" and "Farmers' Associations Transformation and Innovation demonstration program" to assist the associations.
To enhance the effects of counseling, the Council has employed advisers to provide services in areas that include management, marketing, diagnosis of organization improvement and direct counseling for farmers.
The COA has also mounted campaigns to widely promote innovative products and high quality specialties. It has done this by holding the "100 Premium Products Fair of the Farmers' and Fishermen's Association" three years in a row, and introducing specialty products of farmers' associations to consumers.
These campaigns have been recognized by consumers who have encouraged the farmers' associations to pay much more attention to the development of business for profit and to establish prominent brand names for their products.
As part of the efforts to improve their ability to remodel their business approach, farmers' association members are required to take training classes provided by the government to enhance their management skills, the COA said.
In addition, the COA hopes the farmers' associations will identify their own characteristics and find niches for their special agricultural products, which can help revive rural villages and the agricultural sector as well as srienthen the fwredims of the local farmers' associations.
This will enable farmers' association to provide better service to their members and lead to benefits for genenal in pulhic.