Mon, Feb 26, 2007 - Page 8 News List

Farms need infusion of new blood

Chen Yung-song 陳永松

For instance, it implemented a plan to rent land owned by major nationalized industries, such as Taiwan Sugar Corp, to those enrolled in the council's two training programs.

The distinguishing feature of these new farmers is that it is easy for them to take in new concepts and methods which allow them to treat the earth better. This is why it's important to promote organic farming.

Research has shown that naturally grown crops and organic planters produce greater yields and prove more resilient in the face of unusual climate changes. This point is worthy of further investigation by agricultural research agencies.

A relatively feasible solution to the current problem would be to encourage retired people in their 50s and 60s to move to the country and plant crops. This could be a major strength of the Gardener Plan, as more of these people have the economic means to purchase unused farm land.

But it's imperative that these new farms are able to form into farming villages. Even if a new crop of dedicated farmers spreads out around the country, modern computer technology could allow them to join together to create a sales portal for their goods on the Internet. Such a site could become similar to a staging area where techniques and ideas are exchanged or products are gathered and circulated. In this way, the majority of the profits could be returned to the farmers themselves.

I believe that when considering the difficulties the agriculture industry is facing in passing down farming traditions and protecting farming village culture, what is really needed is an infusion of new blood, not a series of top-down policies from agricultural agencies.

We can't afford to wait five or 10 years for the older generation to pass away before lamenting the fact that Taiwanese agriculture has reached the end of its road.

Chen Yung-song is an assistant professor in Ilan University's department of animal science.

Translated by Marc Langer

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