Australia eyeing greater young farmer exchanges with Taiwan
Taipei, March 24 (CNA) There could be further exchanges between young farmers in Australia and Taiwan, as the agricultural sectors on both sides share many similarities and challenges, said Catherine Raper, representative of the Australian Office in Taipei.
"The next generation of farmers will face new challenges but also new opportunities as agricultural practice evolves," Raper said on Friday.
"With this in mind, we wanted to start a dialogue between our respective young farmers," according to Raper, who initiated an exchange program aimed at bringing mutual benefits to young farmers on both sides.
There are various reasons for such efforts, Raper said, explaining that agriculture makes similar sizes of contribution to the economies and employment in Australia and Taiwan, and that their agricultural sectors are in many ways complementary as they are counter-seasonal.
In addition, Raper said, farming sectors from both sides are facing similar challenges, including aging rural populations and climate change, as well as ways to be more competitive in productivity and profitability in an environment of globalization.
The office invited two young farmers from Queensland to visit their Taiwanese counterparts earlier this month, Raper went on.
Paul Inderbitzin and David Groves, 30 and 28, respectively, said the trip was rewarding because they were able to share their experiences with local young farmers.
Inderbitzin said he was impressed with the diversity of Taiwanese fruit, the way Taiwanese farmers add value to their produce through processing, for instance, as well as Internet sales, which have shown an upward trend.
Using drones to monitor his crops on his 500 hectares of farmland, Inderbitzin also suggested the application of robotics for Taiwanese farmers as the technology could contribute to more efficient farming.
"The more information I have, the better and faster my decision making," he said.
Groves, meanwhile, noted that the source of labor is more of an issue for Australia, as it costs approximately NT$5,300 (US$174) per worker per day, which is why the Australian government-led working holiday program -- which has attracted 20,000 young Taiwanese to Australia -- could be a potential pool of labor.
In an effort to raise fruit diversity on his family farm, Groves said, he will also be involved in trialling new lychee varieties from Taiwan under a memorandum of understanding signed between Taiwan and Queensland last year. (Courtesy of CNA)