Accompanied by the Council of Agriculture (COA) Minister Chen, Bao-ji and Miaoli County Magistrate Hsu, Yao-chang, President Ma, Ying-jeou paid a visit to young farmer Chang, Chih-chieh′s organic farm in Miaoli County on June 27 and familiarized himself with the management of the farm. The president was impressed by a series of training and guidance programs the COA offered to prospective farmers like Mr. Chang, who had started with no farming knowledge and became one of the leading figures that motivate the clustering of young farmers in local communities.
The president then listened to a presentation about related policies and measures aimed to assist young farmers and encouraged COA to continue forming more new generation to become agro-business entrepreneurs, making them the core force of agricultural innovation and sustainable development of Taiwan in the future.
People as the core of innovative agriculture
The COA stated that agriculture in Taiwan is now facing challenges from industrialization, large scale production, and internationalization. Thus, the industry desperately needs to develop well-trained agricultural professionals and recruit young talents from different professional backgrounds to re-adjust agricultural labor structure and elevate its professional level, leading to a sustainable development of the industry. Professional counseling of young farmers is therefore crucial to the formation of new generation farmers who will lead the future of agriculture.
The COA further pointed out that the Council has since launched a designated counseling project entitled: "Young Farmers Chase Their Dreams". It selects 100 eligible young farmers to take part in a two-year counseling program which integrates useful agricultural resources such as Farmers’ Advanced Study, Small Landlords Big Tenant Policy, and Loan for Young Farmers' Start-up Businesses. The program also provides them with production know-how, marketing, finance, R&D, organization and information management guidance, as well as other assistances such as subsidy for equipments and installations, and special 3-year interest-free loan. All these measures aim to ensure young farmers' steady growth at their initial stage, and gradually expand the scale of their businesses that head towards value-added production.
Fruitful success of counseling projects for young farmers
The COA explained that the first edition of said counseling project for young farmers recruited over 4,200 agricultural technicians and interdisciplinary experts, introduced 92 new techniques or species from research resources, subsidized up to NT$15.3 million on equipments and installations, and approved over NT$88.97 million worth of loans for these start-up young farmers. The average production yield of young farmers effectively increased by 11%, while total farming scale expanded over 400 hectares. More than 190 products were granted certification from Good Agricultural Practice (GAP), Traceable Agricultural Products (TAP) and organic certification. Last but not least, it assisted around 200 products in expanding retailing channels.
The COA reiterated that in the mean time, the Council also offered consultation to municipal and county Farmers' Associations to establish 15 local exchange platforms for young farmers. Currently, there are over 1,250 farmers at the average age of 35 who take part in the forum to share information, cooperate with each other and pass down agricultural know-how. Such interchange platforms will boost more local governments to join counseling work and integrate resources for the development of local industry clusters. Eventually, they would create a win-win situation for local young farmers, their community, and the country in the near future.