CASH is being made available to train farmers and growers in new skills to produce more crops.
The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, under Defra’s Regional Development Programme for England (RDPE), will be allocating grants from a £490,000 pot of cash.
The money from the new Skills Framework funding of the RDPE, jointly funded by Defra and the European Union, has been supplements by industry match funding so up to £700,000 could be available for new skills training in crops.
The aim is to ensure more advanced technical skills in crops, including horticulture and tree fruit, is transferred to farmers and growers.
It will fund 25,000 hours of training for more than 2,000 people across England between now and March next year.
The training will focus on arable, oilseed, potato and horticultural producers and will be concentrated on regions farming those crops.
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 Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (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 and Smiths Gore.
Practical workshops and seminars will be staged with experts and top scientists, aiming to boost production from lower inputs and costs.
Project leader Tess Howe of AHDB said: “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.
“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.”
AHDB chief executive Tom Taylor added: “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.”