KA2: Sector Skills Alliances
Lot2: Design and delivery of VET
Sustainable Agriculture (SAGRI)
ERIFO is the partner of SAGRI. In the EU almost 50% of the territory is covered by farmland (both arable land and permanent grassland). Therefore, agriculture plays a key role in land management and has a huge responsibility concerning the preservation of natural resources. Agriculture is on one hand extremely vulnerable to climate change and, on the other one, one of the major contributor to it. It is also a major user and polluter of water, a driver of deforestation and of loss of biodiversity. The desired relationship between agriculture and the environment can be captured by the term “sustainable agriculture”. Environmental technologies are the basis for sustainable agriculture. All farming systems, from intensive conventional farming to organic farming, have the potential to be locally sustainable. Whether they are in practice depends on farmers adopting the appropriate technology in the specific agro-ecological environment.
Thus, education in agriculture plays an important role in preparing farmers, researchers and the rest of the staff to provide productive contributions. A critical issue in the 21st century is represented by the changes and adaptations required in agricultural education in order to contribute effectively to enhance the sustainable agricultural production and rural development (L. Van Crowder et al., 1999). According to Rogers, (1996, p.86) “poor training of agricultural extension staff has been identified as part of the problem of the relative ineffectiveness of much of extension in the field”. This applies not only to the staff, but to all the agricultural professionals. Unfortunately, training of human resources in agriculture is not often a priority in national development plans. In agriculture only 17% of farmers in the entire EU complete a basic or full training in agriculture-related disciplines (Hortet 2006).
Thankfully, recent developments in science and technology have provided the technological tools necessary to overcome significant obstacles of the past and to enhance sustainable farming (Precision technology, remote sensing to assess land capability, integrated pest management in plant protection, agricultural reuse of organic residuals, drip irrigation and water-conserving technologies, renewable energy and its application as green agricultural energy source, bioenergy and energy crops).
Nevertheless, not all agricultural stakeholders have been introduced to them or have been trained to use these tools. Furthermore, latest environmental technologies and agricultural solutions, the products of research in this area, remain unutilized because of the difficulty in communicating those results to the farmers.
This proposal aims in advancing the skills of European farmers and agricultural staff through the development of new curricula and teaching programmes that integrate in a practical way the latest developments in agricultural applied research. The purpose is to provide to farmers and agricultural stakeholders knowledge, skills and competencies in the field of agro-environmental technology for sustainable agriculture.
The main activities of the proposed project include:
Analysing the current situation and state of the art.
Develop the occupational profile of “Sustainable farmer” and connect it with specific skills and learning outcomes.
Develop curricula and training programmes according to the EQF/ECVET/EQAVET principles for European agricultural extension staff and farmers.
Develop a virtual learning environment to bring together farmers, agricultural educators and researchers from across Europe.
Organise training workshops in all participating countries to train agricultural staff.
Perform pilot case studies with the end-users (farmers).
Disseminate the project outcomes.