“We estimate that farmers can save up to €5,000 a year if they can deliver greater efficiency, and that will come from a greater understanding of technology in areas like shopping around for supplies, calf registration and online banking,” said Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Denis Naughten, at the recent launch of ‘Agri Digital Skills for Farm Families’ at Hannon’s Hotel, Roscommon.
There was a strong turnout at the launch of the initiative, which has been driven by Roscommon Leader Partnership and aims to promote free training for farm families in all areas of Information Technology.
Speakers such as Anthony Dockery from Leader Partnership; Maura Quigley, Roscommon Mart Manager; IFA Chairman, John Hanley and farmer, John Gill spoke about the need for families to embrace the training.
The initiative aims to provide farming families with the skills they’ll need to ensure they comply with an EU plan to have 100% of basic payment scheme beneficiaries applying online by 2018 – currently 70% of Irish farmers have applied online for schemes like those delivered by the Department of Agriculture.
County IFA Chairman, John Hanley, was fully supportive of the initiative: “We all have a mobile phone in our pocket, communication is moving along fairly rapidly. However, farmers over the age of 55, a lot of them wouldn’t have mobile phones…we can get support for these farmers. It’s the bachelor farmer that’s living alone, they’re the ones who need our support.”
Roscommon Mart manager, Maura Quigley, said that confidence was the name of the game: “Even sending an email is a big deal to some farmers. However, with training and confidence, these things will come very easy.”
Joanne Hussey of Bank of Ireland said that just one in four farmers was currently banking online, before adding: “We want to educate farmers on other, more practical methods that can also be of assistance in terms of keeping records and managing their finances.”
The training will enable farmers to keep track of herds and financial statements as well as allowing them to access online schemes and websites such as agfood.ie.
John Gill, a local farmer, said that the training certainly helped him: “I got involved and I found it very beneficial. It cuts a lot of the paperwork. It brings you onto online banking and herd registration. I’d encourage anybody who can do it to do it.”