Kansas students fly to Taiwan to experience local agriculture

TAIPEI (The China Post) — Taiwan Agricultural Youth Exchange Program, initiated by the Kansas Department of Agriculture, provides an opportunity for Kansas youth to experience local agriculture.

Students can learn about Taiwan agriculture through tours of agricultural facilities and businesses, as well as visits to educational institutions.

Katie Sleichter from Clay Center, a freshman at Kansas State University majoring in agribusiness, global food systems leadership, with a minor in Spanish; and Jeffrey Garcia from Cassoday, a freshman at Butler Community College studying agribusiness, were invited to travel to Taiwan from Oct. 26 to Nov. 3, 2019, to represent Kansas in the program, reported ksnt.com

“One of my biggest take-aways probably was just seeing that there’s such a different type of agriculture in the world,” Sleichter said. “I’m just so used to the United States’ way of agriculture and it was very interesting to see that there are different ways and that there are different ways for people to sustain themselves”

Suzanne Ryan-Numrich, an international trade director at KDA, said to Metro Voice that this exchange offers students an opportunity of a lifetime to experience another country’s agriculture, technology, and culture.

“The students who went on this exchange came home with a broader understanding of the global economy we live in,” Ryan-Numrich said.

The students went to eight Taiwanese farms experiencing local agriculture with produce ranging from passion fruit to organic tea.

“It was interesting to me to see the difference between Kansas agriculture and Taiwanese agriculture,” said Sleichter.

“While in Taiwan we had the opportunity to tour a variety of different farming operations, specifically fruit farms. We toured a passion fruit farm, a dragon fruit farm, an organic tea farm, a guava farm, a tomato farm, and a cocoa farm. The farm tours opened my eyes to the diversity of agriculture, and that there is more than just the type of farms that are common in the United States.”

The pair was accompanied by five other students from Missouri State University and six local students from National Chung Hsing University. Together they visited research sites, such as experimental research animal farms and horticulture experimental branches.

Garcia agreed that it was a great experience. “I really enjoyed trying all the new food and seeing how they grow all the fruit and vegetables they grow in Taiwan,” reported Metro Voice.

Kerry Wefald, Director of Marketing of Kansas Department of Agriculture said that the students also met with the Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where they discussed the trade relationship that has occurred between the U.S. and Taiwan for many decades.

“(This program) hopefully will expose them to a new level of food and agriculture, but also encourage them to come back to the United States, come back to our state in Kansas, and be a platform for communicating the positives of global trade relationships,” Wefald said.