To promote the revitalization of the nation's rural villages and to foster international exchanges related to such efforts, the Council of Agriculture (COA) assisted the Food & Fertilizer Technology Center (FFTC) for the Asian and Pacific Region in holding a two-day international conference at the headquarters of the National Training Institute for Farmers' Organizations (NTIFO). Titled "Reviving Rural Townships in the Asia Pacific," the conference ran from Oct. 2 – 3 and played host to 18 scholars from Germany, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and Taiwan. The event was a great success: more than a hundred attendees turned up for the academic presentations and project exchanges made by foreign experts and several Taiwanese representatives from rural communities, whereas FFTC members pledged to integrate resources and develop partnerships to help revitalize rural Asia-Pacific regions.
Since the start of the 20
th century, rapid economic development and urbanization has led waves of young people to immigrate to the cities, leaving behind the elderly to tend rural villages that are rapidly dwindling in manpower and resources. The fight for survival of the countryside is not unique to Taiwan; agrarian communities around the world all face the same challenge – how to adapt and carry on? While government authorities across the globe have all listed rural revitalization as a national priority, Taiwan must strive to preserve its agricultural roots as well, the COA noted.
In the first half of the two-day conference sponsored by the Rural Development Foundation (RDF), the Soil and Water Conservation Bureau (SWCB) and the NTIFO, German, Japanese, Thai and Taiwanese experts presented speeches on their personal experiences in revitalizing rural economies. The second day was dedicated to exchanges among scholars, officials and community representatives from Asia-Pacific nations, in which case studies were thoroughly examined to foster deeper understanding of the various methods used to stimulate the countryside. The COA concluded that the FFTC conference successfully united Asian-Pacific nations under the cause of rural revitalization, and promised to pursue its policies in diversifying and fortifying rural townships, saying the development of leisure tourism and unique products will help make sustainable agrarian communities a reality one day.