Taiwan's Young Agricultural Ambassadors team visits PH

The 2023 Young Agricultural Ambassadors composed of 12 Taiwanese with expertise in farming, forestry, fisheries, and animal husbandry visited the Philippines on November 13 to 18 as part of the New Southbound Policy Exchange Program.

In an interview with The Manila Times, deputy director-general Hsiao Kuangwei of Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) Public Diplomacy Coordination Council, shared, "The participants hail from diverse backgrounds. Their areas of expertise include organic farming, aquaculture, fruit, vegetable and cultivation, as well as agricultural economics."

"For them, it's really a thorough trip in just seven days. They visited government agencies to learn about the current status of agricultural economic development and business opportunities, universities, research centers, private companies that are all related to agribusiness," he added.

The participants also gained insight into local farming produce market operations and marketing trends. They met with Taiwanese business people working in agriculture-related industries and visited successful factories and farms. The youths also engaged in exchanges with local producers, officials, and academics.

Among the government institutions members of the delegation – six university and graduate students, six agriculture entrepreneurs – visited are the Department of Agriculture and the House of Representatives' Committee on Agriculture. They also stopped by at the educational and research institutions such as International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Southeast Asia Regional Center for Graduates Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DoST-PCAARRD), Central Luzon State University (CLSU), Philippine Carabao Center and the PhilRice.

Moreoever, the Ambassadors also met farmers' group from the Tabon San Jose Farmers' Association, Farmers' Market in Araneta City, and agricultural industry group and company Taiwan Association in the Philippines and the Green Era Biotech Corp.

"This visit will improve understanding about New Southbound Policy partner countries among the next generation of Taiwanese agricultural specialists and increase substantive agricultural cooperation between Taiwan and the Philippines," Kuangwei said.

"I have a very strong sense that Taiwan and the Philippines are really close and good neighbors so we should help each other. Maybe we have something that you can learn from us, but definitely, you also have something that we can learn from. For this trip, we try to explore and learn the insights from the rural agricultural development. The Young Agricultural Ambassadors were able to share their experiences with their counterparts through this program," he added.

Taiwan's MOFA and the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) have co-organized the Young Agricultural Ambassadors New Southbound Policy Exchange Program since 2017. As of 2019, a total of 90 young agricultural ambassadors had been sent to six partner countries, including Thailand and India. Visits were temporarily suspended from 2020 to 2022 due to Covid-19, but with the easing of the pandemic, MOFA and the MOA have decided to restart the program this year. The goal is to continue to provide more opportunities for the next generation of Taiwanese agricultural specialists to engage internationally and develop their capacity to innovate.

Apart from the Philippines, 12 other Ambassadors have been selected to conduct seven-day field visits and in-depth exchanges in another New Southbound Policy partner country, Indonesia.