29 March 2002

ERDPbespoke training can pay big dividends

By Amanda Dunn

TAILOR-MADE training with substantial funding from the English Rural Development Programme offers farmers a powerful management tool.

With the right approach it can provide consultancy-style training at a fraction of the cost, according to farm consultant Robert Cumine of Bidwells.

"A total of £22m has been made available under ERDP, which gives growers funding of up to 75% for vocational training. This can be customised to meet the needs of individual farmer groups," he says.

"The scheme has considerable flexibility and, provided core areas are met, farmers can work with their trainers to develop a tailored programme to suit their needs."

One group of five growers he is involved with is embarked on such a programme. They will meet four times over the next three years, covering business analysis, development potential, marketing policies, diversification and business strategies.

The average value of each approved programme to date is £25,000. But the cost to the grower can be as little as £50/day, with ERDP funding meeting the balance.

"Training can be adapted as the programme progresses, which can be particularly useful where budget and cashflow monitoring are included. Problems picked up by the farmer can then be addressed during training.

"Growers who are happy talking about their businesses, even in relative terms, can come to us with details of areas they would like to cover. From this we can prepare a proposal for ERDP.

"Training doesnt have to be spread over several years, but does need to include essential core areas.

"Within each programme we have to produce 20 training days. This can be 20 people for one days training, or four people for five days.

"Several core areas must be covered and applicants should spend at least 50% of their time working on farm, or derive a direct income from agriculture or horticulture."

Programmes already underway include IT, risk management and cashflow/budget monitoring. &#42

ERDP TRAINING ISSUES

&#8226 IT.

&#8226 Business skills.

&#8226 Marketing.

&#8226 Conservation/environment skills.

&#8226 Diversification.

&#8226 Resource management.

&#8226 Personal development for managers/staff.

&#8226 Looking at new ways of working.

&#8226 Technical skills in agriculture.

&#8226 On-farm food production/processing skills.

Getting to grips with budgets and cash-flows to manage businesses better is just part of the highly flexible ERDP training programme, says Robert Cumine (right).

&#8226 IT.

&#8226 Business skills.

&#8226 Marketing.

&#8226 Conservation/environment skills.

&#8226 Diversification.

&#8226 Resource management.

&#8226 Personal development for managers/staff.

&#8226 New ways of working.

&#8226 Technical skills in agriculture.

&#8226 On-farm food production/ processing skills.