TAIPEI (CNA) — Taiwan’s Ministry of Labor (MOL) said on April 9 that dairy farms will be allowed to hire up to 400 migrant workers in an effort to help solve the labor shortage problem in that sector, starting the same day.

Hsueh Chien-chung (薛鑑忠), a section chief at the ministry’s Workforce Development Agency, said qualified dairy farms can hire migrant workers in accordance with the procedures for recruiting local laborers.

According to MOL, dairy farms with a minimum of 80 cows that currently employ at least four local farm workers will be eligible to apply to hire one migrant worker, with the minimum monthly wage being NT$28,000 (US$908).

In addition, Taiwan will also allow up to 450 Indonesian youths to work in the agriculture sector every year under an agricultural internship program, with the first group of 75 expected to arrive in May, Council of Agriculture (COA) official Su Meng-lan (蘇夢蘭) said, adding that 118 farms have already put in requests following the announcement of the program in March.

The plan was is based on an apprentice system implemented by the Japanese government that allows Japanese companies to accept foreign skilled workers from developing economies to fill manpower gaps, according to the COA.

Other measures are also being planned to address Taiwan’s agricultural labor shortage. The COA is considering allowing local farmers associations to recruit migrant workers directly, though any association choosing to do so will first have to pass a review by COA officials, local government and experts, Su said.

The COA held its first meeting to discuss the recruitment scheme on March 28, the draft plan is expected to be completed by the end of April, according to Su.

By Yang Su-min and Chung Yu-chen