Twelve Taiwan Youth Agricultural Ambassadors (TYAA), together with Deputy Director General Hsiao Kuang-wei of the Public Diplomacy Coordination Council-Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) and Deputy Director General Hung Hsiao-chun of the Department of International Affairs-Taiwan Ministry of Agriculture (MOA), paid a courtesy visit to the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) on 17 November 2023 as part of the TYAA New Southbound Policy Exchange Program.
Co-organized by MOFA and MOA, the TYAA New Southbound Policy Exchange Program provides Taiwanese tertiary students specializing in agriculture, aquaculture, animal husbandry, and forestry with an opportunity to engage in academic, research, business, and cultural exchanges with other countries.
During the meeting, Ms. Huang Hung-chi, an agribusiness student at the National Chung Hsing University (NCHU) and one of Taiwan's youth ambassadors, presented her experiences during the exchange program.
"I am thankful to our government for giving us the opportunity to connect with the world through the New Southbound Policy Exchange Program," Ms. Hung-chi stated. "Since the countries we visit faced the same challenges as ours, we can exchange insights and solutions and gain practical experiences from each other," she added.
She also discussed other Taiwanese government-led initiatives focusing on cultivating young agriculturists through food and agricultural education and talent exchange.
The visitors were apprised of SEARCA's mandate, programs, and offerings. Mr. Joseph Matthew Hedreyda, senior associate for events and visitors and SEARCA youth ambassador, introduced the Young Forces for Agricultural Innovation (#Y4AGRI)—the Center's banner youth engagement initiative.
He imparted some of #Y4AGRI's completed activities, such as the Southeast Asian Youth Fest (SYF), a forum on the state and directions of food security in the region, and the SEARCA Youth Stories Competition, a video contest that featured success stories of youth agripreneurs.
Mr. Hedreyda also discussed the Center's new youth initiatives, namely, the Green Skills for Youth, which was designed to cultivate the young staff's green skills and increase their involvement in community relations activities. He also introduced the Youth in Agri Talk Show, which aims to make agriculture appealing to young students. Additionally, he mentioned SEARCA's upcoming activity titled Sowing Seeds, a school campaign promoting agriculture as a viable career option for senior high school students.
TYAA shared their motivations for pursuing agriculture, with the passion for farming as one of the main reasons.
To cap the event, both parties expressed interest in fostering collaboration opportunities.
"Having heard your presentations and experiences, we want our young ambassadors to learn from you," Ms. Corinta Guerta, technical advisor to the Center Director, stated. She suggested organizing a forum with TYAA as resource speakers to share their knowledge and experiences with a broader audience.
Ms. Sharon Malaiba, unit head for Partnerships, identified other potential areas for collaboration, including scholarships and research.
A SEARCA delegation led by Assoc. Prof. Joselito Florendo, deputy director for administration, received the visitors. With them in the meeting were Ms. Guerta; Ms. Malaiba and Mr. Hedreyda, both of the Partnerships Unit (PU); Ms. Donna Bae Malayang, program associate of the Research and Thought Leadership Department; and key PU staff. The visitors were also given a tour of the SEARCA Hub for Agriculture and Rural Innovation for the Next Generation (SHARING).