Facing a shortage of talent in agriculture, the Taiwanese government is drafting a new policy on encouraging young graduates from local senior technical high schools and their counterparts from Southeast Asia to pursue further studies in the speciality.

The Council of Agriculture aims to secure at least 700 to 800  Taiwanese and foreign students, as well as retired soldiers, to participate in the agriculture industry every year, The Liberty Times reported.

To achieve the goal, Chu Chien-wei, head of the COA’s Department of Farmers’ Services, said free four-year university education would be provided to outperforming senior technical high school students who pursue a bachelor’s degree in agriculture.

Meanwhile, the Overseas Youth Vocational Training School is for the first time providing overseas Taiwanese students with agriculture modules. A total of 77 students enrolled in the autumn class, working on farms during weekends and earning a living subsidy of NT$5,000 (US$165) per month.

The council said it was also planning to invite students from Southeast Asian countries to come to Taiwan to study agricultural technology and to stay behind to develop their careers in the industry.