Premier Lin Chuan today attended a national farmers award ceremony sponsored by the Council of Agriculture, saying the government's "new agriculture" policy will make Taiwan more competitive and ensure the sustainable development of its agricultural industry.
That policy was proposed by the government to address the many challenges facing the industry and includes initiatives to regenerate farmland, attract young people, develop specialty products and services, add greater value to products, and speed up industrial transformation.
Among those challenges, fragmentation of farmland has limited production volume, the aging farmland population has been slow to embrace change, farmers are relying on non-farming activities for their main sources of income, and the labor shortage is more acute than ever. Efforts to modernize production, marketing or management processes have also proven difficult. The government must work with the public to solve these problems together, the premier said.
The first priority is to promote farmland regeneration by consolidating idle or fragmented plots, the premier said. The next order is to encourage young people to take up farming and become professional agricultural workers. Developing specialty agricultural products and services will also be high on the government's agenda as it is the only way to put Taiwan ahead of other countries, he added.
To increase agricultural value, farmers must improve their facilities and equipment. The government has been developing modular systems with simplified construction procedures to save farmers money, promote the field of "facility agriculture," and create opportunities for organic and specialty farming businesses.
Agricultural insurance and cross-industry alliances are also important for Taiwan's agricultural foundation, the premier continued. Installing solar panels on pig farm rooftops or using biogas for power generation are examples that have enabled the agricultural sector to work with the green energy industry for mutual prosperity.
In closing, Premier Lin urged farmers to work with the government to rebuild and revitalize rural villages and balance urban-rural development. He also encouraged today's award winners to pass on their experiences so that farmers can learn from one another as they help the industry thrive.