Taipei, April 8 - An agricultural internship program between Taiwan and the Philippines formally kicked off Thursday, with 50 Filipino farmers expected to be sent to Taiwan for one year after completing a basic Mandarin language course.
"The internship program is the first between the Philippines and Taiwan," Angelito Banayo, chairman and representative of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) in Taiwan, told CNA on Thursday.
"It (the program) is expected to further deepen the pragmatic relations between the Philippines and Taiwan, especially at a time when exchanges between most countries in the world are greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic," Banayo said.
The program fulfills a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed between MECO and its counterpart, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO), in Manila late last year.
In the Philippines, 50 young farmers from different parts of the country, both male and female, participated in an orientation program for the project and will begin to take their basic Mandarin language classes online on Friday, in preparation for their eventual deployment to Taiwan in June.
The Mandarin classes will be facilitated by TECO.
"Thank you for the opportunity of this internship. It gives us a chance to serve our country through food production," said Rendale Ragas, one of the interns.
After arriving in Taiwan, the interns will be accommodated in housing or facilities prepared by the host farmers and learn about local farming skills and technologies through classwork and fieldwork, including crop planting and animal husbandry.
The interns are expected to stay in Taiwan for one year and will receive allowances from their hosts during their time here.
Banayo expressed his belief that the interns will learn a lot in Taiwan, praising the island for being able to export farm produce of excellent quality despite the limited available arable land.
The farmers, selected by agriculture authorities in the Philippines, were supposed to depart for Taiwan as early as March, but this was postponed due to the pandemic.
Taiwan and the Philippines enjoy healthy cooperation in the agricultural sector. Aside from exchanges between educational institutions on both sides, agricultural cooperation meetings have been held annually between high-level officials from the two sides since 2005.
(By Chung Yu-chen and Emerson Lim)