The Greater Kaohsiung Government’s Agriculture Bureau is looking to overturn stereotypes by offering a series of farming-related and innovative training courses to a new generation of farmers.
The bureau said that of the 120,000 farmers in Kaohsiung, 50,000 receive the welfare allowance for elderly farmers, while the remaining 70,000 include 20,000 farmers aged between 20 and 40, who have either taken over their family farms or entered the industry of their own accord.
The nation’s economic transition has seen the agricultural industry faced with various challenges, prompting it to develop farming techniques, marketing and packaging skills, as well as the processing of produce, the bureau said.
“These advances have encouraged a growing number of youngsters to plunge into the agricultural industry, filling it with vigor and vitality,” the bureau said, adding that the training classes are aimed at cultivating a group of “trendy farmers” who could harness the industry’s energy with their charisma and help develop more business opportunities.
Unlike most vocational training courses, the “trendy farmers” classes will place an emphasis on improving young agricultural workers’ communication skills, stimulating creativity and fostering their aesthetic perception, the bureau’s Farmers’ Organization Division said.
“The classes also seek to boost participants’ confidence, advance their communication skills and teach them how to incorporate the latest technologies into their farming businesses. We hope to create a new generation of farmers by helping them keep abreast of global trends and industrial developments,” the division said.
Agriculture Bureau Director Tsai Fu-ching (蔡復進) said that many young farmers he knew are inventive and have the capability to explore the potential of agricultural markets.
“Some of these young men have managed to translate their ideas into action by creating their own brands, and have been making sizable profits,” Tsai said.
“Only by capitalizing on the positive outlook the younger generation has for the potential of farming can Kaohsiung’s agriculture industry take off again,” he added.
With that in mind, the classes will be provided free of charge in four stages for 100 farmers aged between 20 and 45, who own at least one piece of farmland and have farming-related experience, the division said.
Registration will begin in the middle of next month for the classes that are scheduled to start in July.
Courses will include aesthetic packaging, copywriting design, marketing strategies, commercial photography techniques, brand equity promotions and innovative business models.
Hsu Lun-chao (許倫肇), a 30-year-old lychee farmer, said he is looking forward to taking the classes and that he was particularly interested in publicity and marketing courses.
Thirty-eight-year-old rice farmer Wu Chun-hsien (吳俊賢) said he would decide whether to sign up for the classes once a complete curriculum was available, adding that he wanted to learn about e-commerce and pest management.