THE number of females registered with Farming Connect is less than half the number of males registered. It’s a ratio that Eirwen Williams, director of rural programmes with Menter a Busnes, is determined to address.
“With so many women currently home-based due to the restrictions of Covid 19, Farming Connect is determined to reach out to this sometimes silent army, the acknowledged heroes of many successful rural businesses, and encourage them to personally register with Farming Connect, so that we can support them too.
“Very often, the male partner in the business is the named individual who registers, so only that individual receive our invitations, the publications and all the information and guidance which helps them keep up to date with the innovation, new technology and best practice available.
“We have such a comprehensive range of support, guidance, training and mentoring services and many are delivered with content and a format that will be very beneficial and accessible for many women.
Mrs. Williams wants everyone within this ‘female force’ to get in touch with their local Farming Connect development officer, who will bring them up to speed on what’s available during lockdown, and also help them register. Registration is a speedy process which can be completed with our development officers, or online by visiting the Farming Connect website or by calling the Service Centre on 08456 000 813.
“At this unprecedented and very challenging time, we know that many women are now home-based, having to adapt to working from home, often juggling the duties of wife or partner, parent, schoolteacher and sometimes farm worker too, but there is so much we can do to help them if they engage with us directly,” said Mrs. Williams.
Agrisgôp, Farming Connect’s hugely successful ‘action learning’ programme which encourages groups of like-minded individuals to get together in a facilitated environment to develop business ideas, has helped hundreds of individuals since it was first set up in 2003. The initiative currently includes a number of ‘all women’ groups as well as many more with female members. A number are tackling topics pertinent to many women, ranging from diversification and alternative energy schemes to tourism enterprises and farm paperwork.
“Many Agrisgôp groups are managing to keep in touch ‘digitally’ at this time, which is a real boost to morale, but most are also looking forward to the time when they can get back to meeting up in person, meet sector specialists brought in to advise them and they can visit other successful business models,” said Mrs. Williams.
Farming Connect’s mentoring team includes 12 female mentors, each with expertise based on their skills and experience. Registered businesses can apply for up to 15 hours of one-to-one confidential mentoring support over the telephone or digitally. Topics available include for example business management and planning, joint ventures, personal development, succession planning, diversification enterprises, benchmarking, farm health and safety and animal health and welfare.
“Over many years, and through many different services and campaigns, we’ve been enabling women to develop their potential and contribute to the many opportunities that exist within not only the farming, food and forestry businesses but also within their wider rural communities.”
“Despite agriculture still being regarded as largely male dominated, women are playing a pivotal role in the development, modernisation and professionalism of many farming businesses in the UK, and Farming Connect can support them in this,” said. Mrs. Williams.
‘Save the dates’ Monday 15 June – Saturday 20 June. Farming Connect’s annual Women in Agriculture campaign will take ‘remotely’ this year for a week of online, digital and one-to-one ‘over the phone’ activities. For further information visit www.gov.wales/farmingconnect
Farming Connect, which is delivered by Menter a Busnes and Lantra, has received funding through the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.