Topic: Agriculture training for farmers in the framework of rural development policies: A case study from the Basque Country
Keywords: agricultural training of farmers, Agricultural policy, young farmers, informal training.
This paper introduces an issue dedicated to enquire about the agricultural training of farmers within the context of the Rural Development Programs. A particularly unexplored topic, but that has ultimately become more relevant due to the rapidly social and economic changing of the rural. This evolution ad specialization of rural areas, and particularly, of agriculture and agri-food demand an appropriate level of qualification for farmers at different level (entrepreneurial training, new production and quality practices etc.) in order to acquire practices compatible with competitiveness, the maintenance of the landscape and the protection of the environment. This situation is particularly relevant in Spain, when more that 80 percent of the farmers have never followed any particular training, relying their activity on practical experience.
The paper examines these questions in the context of the evaluation of the Measure for Agricultural training within the 2007-2014 Rural Development Program of the Basque Country, in Northern Spain. It has been followed a methodological approach which combines the analysis of the data coming from the training projects supported (more than one thousand), together with qualitative information with key informants (eleven in-depth interviews) in charge of the training measure design and those collective representatives from social fields such as agricultural associations or farmers´ Unions.
The results show how the promotion of entrepreneurship together with business management were the training subjects most attended by Basque farmers during the analised period. Likewise, vocational training courses are
especially addressed to young people who want to settle at the sector along with other groups such as farmers who are also in need of training. Even though the interviewees recognize the relevance of this measure in creating a modern and competitive agrarian sector, the discourses show also that agrarian training remains as a controversial issue and it is poorly valued by the farmers. Both factors constrain an adequate application of this Measure. An analysis of this kind is important because it is concerned with key agrarian questions about also involve the future of farming and rural areas as a whole.