Over the past decades in the Asian Region, there has been a considerable decrease in the number of young generation who were into farming. By contrast, their outbound flow to urban cities has considerably increased in various Asian nations. Consequently, aged populations of over 65-year old are successively increasing in the agriculture sector. In Japan, Korea and Taiwan, for instance, the ratio of the aged farmers to the total farm household population are 34.3%, 31.8% and 31.2% respectively in 2010. China follows suit and starts increasing the age-farmer’s ratio due to its fast economic growth, and most of the remaining Asian countries seem to follow the same destiny as the preceding countries in the very near future.
There are a couple of serious bottlenecks to hinder the young generation’s entry into farming; nearly 80 % of Asian farmers belong to the small-scale group. This has led to a lot of issues such as lots of financial/legal/economic constraints to compete with other sectors; serious constraint imposed on agricultural land use; buying and selling in agricultural land by law etc., lack of technological innovation for increased competitiveness; old-fashioned management of farming and rural society. Farming is the typical three-Ds’ job; Difficulty, Dirty, Danger and carries with it a number of constraints; Long-time laboring; no-holiday; hard-work with low-income, Lack of amusement places in rural areas; less-convenience to shopping, etc.
Many attempts have been made to attract the young generation into farming. Many Asian countries have already tested a variety of stimulating packages to enhance young people’s entry into farming such as a loan with lower interest rate and longer repayment period, pre-training and pre-educating for young farming candidates, free consulting after engaging in farming, providing welfare service and even salary compensation for a certain period of time. Some countries introduce a direct payment system for an early retirement of aged farmers. Although various stimulating countermeasures were taken, the shortage of young farmers becomes more serious year by year.
Recently a number of free trade agreements (FTAs) and/or economic partnership agreements have been concluded bilaterally or multi-laterally in the Asian countries. Active entry of young generation into farming is a key factor to revitalize the Asian agriculture and rural areas which many consider to be under siege. Therefore it is a matter of urgency to understand the bottlenecks of hindering the entry of young generation into farming and seek viable and practical solutions to enhance their entry into agricultural pursuits. It is only a practical way for the agricultural sector to become sustainable and further develop.
This seminar is to review the current status of Asian agriculture vis-à-vis the aging farmers and try to find comprehensive ways to enhance the entry of young generation into farming in the free trade era and provide the participants with a venue for deliberation and exchange of information over related policy information.