Wed, Apr 25, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Working holiday trial to begin in June

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

Council of Agriculture Minister Lin Tsung-hsien, center, and other officials yesterday announce the National Agriculture Congress at a news conference in Taipei.

Photo: Wu Hsin-tien, Taipei Times

A working holiday program for young Southeast Asians is expected to begin its trial run in June, but its official operation needs more discussion with other ministries, Council of Agriculture (COA) officials said yesterday.

COA Minister Lin Tsung-hsien (林聰賢) yesterday announced the National Agriculture Congress is take place from Sept. 7 to Sept. 8 in Taipei — 15 years after the last congress in 2003.

Seasonal labor shortages in the agricultural sector would be one of the congress’ focal subjects, he said.

There are numerous proposals on ameliorating the labor shortage — including opening jobs to foreign workers, encouraging young people to take up agriculture and promoting automated production — but they all need more deliberation, he added.

Inviting young people from Southeast Asia on a working holiday is one of the council’s projects, a trial of which is expected to begin in June, Lin said.

The program would be offered to young people from Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand — the countries from which most of foreign spouses of Taiwanese come, Department of Farmers’ Service Director-General Chu Chien-wei (朱建偉) said.

The council plans to accept 200 applications from each country, with those who have relatives in Taiwan to receive priority, he said.

To ensure such applicants have family in Taiwan, the council would require them to ask their relatives in the nation request invitations from local farmers’ associations, which could be presented when applying for a visa, he added.

After a six-month trial, the council and other ministries would evaluate its feasibility, Chu said.

International trade negotiations would be another key subject at the congress, Lin said.

As the nation works toward joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership and the US could also return to the trade pact, agricultural exports would be a thorny issue, Lin said, adding that it is essential to balance free trade and protections for local farmers.

The council has created an online platform on which people can propose agenda items for the congress, Lin said, adding that any proposal that receives the support of 2,000 people within 30 days would be listed on the agenda.

The council said it would hold 18 meetings nationwide to gather local opinions.

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