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Client satisfaction surveys, stronger collaboration with the private sector and improved visibility are just some of the seven recommendations and suggestions of the eight TAC members who attended the 24th TAC meeting last July 24 at the Great Roots Resort in Sanxia, New Taipei City. The whole day meeting, which happens only every two years, also constantly emphasized the need of the Center to adapt, align and attune itself to the ever changing agricultural landscape.

Dr. Masa Iwanaga, President of the Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences (JIRCAS), who was unanimously voted as the Committee Chairman, reported that the TAC members were very pleased with the presentations delivered by FFTC Director Dr. Kuo-Ching Lin  and Deputy Director Dr. Akira Hasebe. Both Center leaders took turns to present a review of FFTC’s mission and vision, the various activities that the Center undertook over the past two years, creating new opportunities for partnerships and the its strategic action plans for 2019-2020.

Building a more dynamic Center

However, Dr. Iwanaga added that the TAC members feel that FFTC should constantly do an evaluation of its projects and activities to check on its weak and strong points and improve on its performance. To build a more dynamic Center, the TAC members also suggested strategizing and thinking of creative ways to forge stronger collaboration with the private sector, the global network of international NGOs and other development organizations. They also recommended to  the Center management to think of ways to further improve its visibility through promotional activities like the use of social media and other ways to increase its website access.

After a one-hour closed door session, Dr. Iwanaga, together with the rest of the TAC members, presented the following recommendations:
1.    Develop a four-year strategic rolling action plan instead of the usual two years and a two-year work plan cycle. As much as possible, this should be supported by a ball park budget plan as well;
2.    Conduct some level of impact assessment through client satisfaction surveys in the website or an evaluation of the workshops and seminars;
3.    Prioritize and consolidate the list of workshops presented. Consider if this can be a basis for the four-year plan;
4.    Check the nine recommendations made in 2016 and see if some of the suggestions can still be acted on;
5.    Develop stronger collaboration with other international and local NGOs and the private sector;
6.    Make a clear linkage between the TAC and the FFTC Executive Board; and
7.    Improve the Center’s visibility and increased website access through promotional activities.

Overall, Dr. Iwanaga concluded that FFTC is doing well and is in the right direction. But just like any dynamic organization, it should not rest on its successes and accomplishments but should constantly seek ways to move forward and improve on its performance.

After the one-day meeting on July 24, the TAC members had a one-day educational trip to the various hi-tech and recreational farms in Taoyuan and Hsinchu counties in Taiwan. These include the Swiss Country Village, the YesHealth iFarm and Agri Biotechnology, the Tao-City Vegetable Agricultural Cooperatives, the Nanpu Community Development Association and the Sanshui Soil and Water Conservation Outdoor Classroom.

FFTC has 10 TAC members coming from seven countries. They are the following: Dr. Kazuo Kyuma, President, National Agriculture and Food Research Organization (NARO) ; Dr. Masa Iwanaga, President and Director General, Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences (JIRCAS); Dr. Taek-ryoun Kwon, Director, International Technical Cooperation Centre, Rural Development Administration, Korea; YBhg. Datuk Dr. Mohammad Roff Bin Mohd Noor, Director General, Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (MARDI); Dr. Reynaldo V. Ebora, Acting Executive Director, Philippine Council for Agriculture Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD); Dr. Edna Samar, Officer-in-Charge, Assistant Director, Bureau of Soils and Water Management, Department of Agriculture, Philippines; Dr. Junne-Jih Chen, Director General, Taiwan Agricultural Research Institute, Council of Agriculture; Dr. Chung-Hsiu Hung, Director General, Department of International Affairs, Council of Agriculture; Dr. Siree Chaiseri, Vice President for Research, Associate Professor, Department of Food Science and Technology, Kasetsart University, Thailand; Dr. Nguyen Hong Son, President, Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences (represented by Dr. Nguyen Xuan Lai, Director General, Soil and Fertilizers Research Institute). Dr. Kazuo Kyuma from Japan was represented by NARO Vice President Dr. Atsuro Matsuda. Dr. Reynaldo Ebora from the Philippines and Dr. Siree Chaiseri from Thailand were not able to attend the meeting.

FFTC Director Dr. Kuo-Ching Lin delivers the opening remarks to the eight members of the FFTC-TAC who came all the way from Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.  He said the Center's future challenges include capacity building and financial support, strengthening and expanding partnerships and linkages, improving the quality of workshops and seminars and maximizing the use of social media and ICT.

In his opening remarks, Director Dr. Kuo-Ching Lin welcomes and expresses his gratefulness to the members of the TAC for coming and attending the biannual meeting, after which he also delivers a presentation on the Center’s mission and vision.

FFTC Director Dr. Kuo-Ching Lin and Deputy Director Akira Hasebe share the stage by delivering presentations on “A Review of FFTC’s 2017-2018 Activities,” “Creating New Opportunities for Partnerships,” and FFTC Strategic Plan for 2019-2020”.

FFTC Deputy Director Dr. Akira Hasebe reports to the members of the FFTC-TAC the major activities that transpired in the Center for the past two years (including the activities of 2018). Dr. Hasebe also presents FFTC's Strategic Plan for the 2019-2022 including its five program themes which are the following: 1) Intelligent agriculture by ICT; 2) Smart agricultural value chain; 3) Climate smart agriculture; 4) Green technologies and 5) Rural resource management. He further explains that in the next coming years, all of the Center's activities will be anchored on the above-mentioned five program themes.

Dr. Masa Masa Iwanaga (right), President of the Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences (JIRCAS) is unanimously voted as the Chairman of the TAC during the afternoon session. To his left is Korean TAC member Dr. Taek-Ryoun Kwon, Director, International Cooperation Centre, of the Rural Development Administration.