TW youth ambassadors share good practices to entice students into agriculture

TO share good practices for enticing youth into agriculture, 12 Taiwan Youth Agricultural Ambassadors (TYAA) paid a courtesy visit to the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) on November 17, 2023 as part of the TYAA New Southbound Policy Exchange Program.

The Taiwanese group was accompanied by 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).

Providing 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, the TYAA New Southbound Policy Exchange Program was co-organized by MoFA and MoA.

During the meeting with SEARCA, 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," Hung-chi said.

"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.

Hung-chi also discussed other Taiwanese government-led initiatives focusing on cultivating young agriculturists through food and agricultural education and talent exchange.

On the other hand, SEARCA's mandate, programs, and offerings were introduced to the visitors.

Introducing the Young Forces for Agricultural Innovation (#Y4AGRI) – the center's banner youth engagement initiative, Joseph Matthew Hedreyda, senior associate for events and visitors and SEARCA youth ambassador, also imparted some of #Y4AGRI's completed activities.

These are 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.

Also discussed was SEARCA'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. Another is the Youth in Agri Talk Show, which aims to make agriculture appealing to young students.

Hedreyda also mentioned the center's upcoming activity titled "Sowing Seeds," a school campaign promoting agriculture as a viable career option for senior high school students.

TYAA also shared their motivations for pursuing agriculture, with the passion for farming as one of the main reasons signifying their interest in fostering collaboration opportunities with SEARCA.

Having heard the TYAA presentations and experiences, Corinta Guerta, technical advisor to SEARCA director Dr. Glenn Gregorio, noted the need to organize a forum with TYAA as resource speakers to share their knowledge and experiences with a broader audience.

"We want our young ambassadors to learn from you," Guerta said.

Sharon Malaiba, SEARCA Partnership Unit (PU) head, also identified other potential areas for collaboration, including scholarships and research.

The visitors were also given a tour of the SEARCA Hub for Agriculture and Rural Innovation for the Next Generation.

Receiving the visitors was a SEARCA delegation led by Assoc. Prof. Joselito Florendo, deputy director for administration. With them in the meeting were Guerta, Malaiba Hedreyda, and Donna Bae Malayang, program associate of the Research and Thought Leadership Department; and key PU staff.