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Levy Board’s £700k Training Boost for Crop Growers

04 February 2013

UK - For farmers and growers challenged to produce more from the same land, with less inputs and greater regard for the environment, additional help is now at hand, thanks to a grant of £490,000 to the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) under Defra’s Regional Development Programme for England (RDPE).

This additional investment is made under the new Skills Framework funding of the RDPE, which is jointly funded by Defra and the European Union. Supplemented by industry match funding, the grant to AHDB makes possible a cash injection of over £700,000 for new skills training in crops.

The grant, the fourth recent AHDB success under RDPE, is to promote a greater amount of knowledge transfer of advanced technical skills in crops, including horticulture and tree fruit. It will fund 25,000 hours of training for more than 2,000 farmers and growers across England, from January 2013 to March 2014. With industry match funding, this brings the total amount secured by AHDB to boost knowledge transfer to farmers under the current RDPE programme to £2.2 million.

Focusing on arable, oilseed, potato and horticultural producers, training activity will be staged in those regions where the specific crops/produce are farmed. The training programme will be kept flexible to respond quickly to industry demand.

Around a third of the training, which will be directed at agronomists and professional advisers as well as farmers and growers, will be delivered by AHDB knowledge transfer/research and development teams from its potato and horticulture divisions – Potato Council and HDC. The rest of the training will be provided by an AHDB network of industry experts and training providers, including ADAS, Duchy College, Farm Energy Centre, Smiths Gore and the Train East network, for example.

A programme of practical workshops and seminars featuring industry experts and top scientists (given both on and off the farm) will be aimed at improving production efficiency and quality while reducing inputs and lowering costs.

“This grant award is all about making additional work possible that will inspire the whole of our industry to help growers grow produce in new and better ways that are better for businesses, consumers and the environment,” said project leader Tess Howe, External Skills Development Manager for AHDB.

“With increasing demands placed on resources, it’s vital farm businesses get all the latest knowledge they’re going to need to stay competitive in a global market.

“To maximise returns, growers want to increase the productivity of each crop as well as ensure the quality of the final product – they have to have the right tools to be able to do this and that means being aware of new husbandry techniques, the latest research and development and how new knowledge is driving new systems of production, facilities and genetics,” she added.

AHDB Chief Executive Tom Taylor commented: “Previous success under RDPE allowed AHDB to extend its skills and knowledge transfer activity beyond its levy offer – I’m delighted to say this latest award puts us in this happy position yet again, not only able to deliver the kind of cost-effective training that farmers and growers want but to offer it on a much bigger, national scale.”

TheCropSite News Desk

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