Agricultural ambassadors to visit Philippines, Indonesia

Taipei-Taiwan's first-ever young agricultural ambassadors are soon to head to the Philippines and Indonesia as part of the government's ongoing push to establish closer relations with neighboring nations through its New Southbound Policy, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) announced Tuesday.

In a press event to send off 30 ambassadors following a two-day-training program, Deputy Foreign Minister Paul Chang (???) congratulated the ambassadors due to travel to the two Southeast Asian countries from Sept. 10-16. In cooperation with the Council of Agriculture, Chang said the new project recruited university and college students majoring in agriculture, economics-related disciplines and experts in rice, tea and fruit cultivation, as well as fish fry breeding.

These ambassadors; 18 men and 12 women, from 14 counties and cities nationwide, were selected from 120 participants to undertake training. They were also split into two groups, one for each country.

Some of the ambassadors made the Top 100 Outstanding Young Farmers list and one was selected as a model fisherman, according to Chang.

"In terms of expertise, gender ratio and geographical distribution, the ambassadors represent a diverse, specialized background, highlighting the spirit and vibrancy of Taiwanese agriculture," Chang added.

According to Chang, the Philippines and Indonesia were chosen because the two countries are crucial partners in the government's New Southbound Policy.

For example, Taiwan and the Philippines signed an agreement on marine patrol cooperation in 2015, while Taiwan and Indonesia signed an agricultural cooperation pact in 2016.

"Establishing such a cooperative mechanisms, we hope to enhance our bilateral partnerships by sharing the experiences and technologies that enabled Taiwan to develop sophisticated agricultural, aquaculture and pest control practices," he noted.

Speaking during the same event, Indonesia's deputy representative to Taiwan, Siswadi, welcomed Taiwan government's New Southbound Policy and said the program is expected to help Taiwan forge closer relations with ASEAN countries, Indonesia included.

"We welcome this agricultural program that brings expertise in different field to Indonesia to enhance cooperation in such sectors," he said.

Keefe Dela Cruz, director of Assistance to Nationals at the Manila Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei, said agriculture, farming and fishing are noble professions.

"Agricultural is for everybody. Because most of the things you produce are not for yourself but for the world," he said, adding that the New Southbound Policy will bring peoples and cultures closer and the agricultural exchange program could help to improve production efficiency.

"We are very excited for your trip to the Philippines. We hope that you will be able to learn new perspectives," he noted.

Chen Yi-man (???), group leader of the Indonesia program and one of the Top 100 Outstanding Young Farmers, said she hopes to showcase Taiwan's strengths in agriculture and improve bilateral exchanges through the program.

Chang Hao-yen (???), group leader of the Philippines program, who is also one of the Top 100 Outstanding Young Farmers and tea farm manager, said young farmers like him are grateful for this opportunity to be part of a program that allows them to use their expertise in the wider world.

"Everyone needs agriculture to live so agriculture is the best way to make friends with people around the world," he noted.

The New Southbound Policy seeks to strengthen Taiwan's ties with members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, as well as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, New Zealand and Australia.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel