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Outcomes

 

The implementation of the Project has followed a bottom-up logic, starting from an open sectoral consultation in all partner countries. Stakeholders, experts in the sectors of Agriculture and Vocational Training, and young farmers already owner of a farm have been interviewed to provide opinions, information and data based on their personal and professional experiences.
These data, duly re-elaborated, have constituted the basis for drawing up the report entitled “Forecast analysis of future needs of entrepreneurial skills in agriculture", whose conclusions have fed the entire corpus of training products that the project is implementing, from the Referential of Competences, to the Professional Qualification as well as the training curriculum and the blended training pathway, including learning materials.

 

“Virtual Farm”, which covers  a specular  role and of transposition as setting of the virtual internship, has been developed starting from an analysis on the field of concrete models of Farm, which are representative of best practices of management within new CAP scenarios and new configurations of global markets. The analysis of farms, identified as study cases, has fed the design of an “Exemplar Model of Farm”,that constitutes the framework of reference for the development of V-Stage and of related virtual environments and scenarios.

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Future Skills Needs

The project has been started with the identification of needs in terms of skills that are necessary to young farmers to interact with new agricultural scenarios. This forecast analysis has been based on outcomes of two surveys. The first one has been focused on the analysis of the post-2013 CAP in order to carry out an analysis of its impact on agricultural scenarios in consequence of  change of policy orientations. The study has been supported by a reasoned consultation of both politic documents and scientific literature and has allowed to point out the areas of enterprise development which are mainly involved in these changes.

The second survey has been realized as an empirical research focused on the identification of most relevant learning needs of future agricultural entrepreneurs taking into consideration:the opinion of selected stakeholders (experts in the sectors of agriculture and vocational training);perceptions and representations of young farmers about the areas of enterprise development which are considered as central for European farms and about knowledge, competences and skills required to set up and manage a farm in an effective way within CAP scenarios.

At this purpose, 60 stakeholders and 120 young farmers have been interviewed in Italy, France, Spain, Hungary, Austria and Greece, as privileged witnesses within a framework of qualitative research. The interviews to stakeholders have allowed elaborating an identikit of the future agricultural entrepreneur in terms of knowledge, skills, competences and understandings needed to manage in an effective and efficient way the farm with reference to specific areas in a dimension of enterprise development.

The interviews to farmers and entrepreneurs have provided data and information for the construction of a repository of typical problems met in various European regions during the management of different areas connected with the farm so to extract indications and orientations on  strengths and weaknesses for the identification of specific learning needs.

              

The data collected have been used for an in-depth elaboration in order to process through a comparative analysis:

·  similarities and differences compared to different territorial and contextual configurations;

· expectations, motivations and awareness which characterize farmers in various countries.

In particular, we have focused on the difficulties that the average of EU farmers, in each Partner country, meets in the process of adapting to new CAP orientations.

The Report is a representative portrait of typical situations that can be considered exemplar cases to be taken into examination for further surveys on general contextual conditions of the agricultural entrepreneurship with EU scenarios.

The report is structured as a repertory of learning needs organized for knowledge, skills, competences and understandings to  which sectoral trainers can access to orient  in a more effective way  the  future  offer  training.

 

Best Practice Review

 

It is a catalogue of farms of excellence, representative of 11 Best Practices of farm management in EU.

They are Models of effective and efficient showing entrepreneurial flexibility in the process of adapting to new market scenarios. They are farms that have established alternative sources of income (i.e., multifunctionality) to support the mere production (as strategy to response of the decoupling), showing a strong attention to the safeguard of the environmental heritage and the  eco-sustainable development of territory where they are based.  They are certified not only for production aspects but also for the entire cycle of Farm Management and they adopt systems of control management of process / product (Traceability, Tracing back, Quality control, etc...) for the improvement and optimisation of enterprise processes.

Entrepreneurial models of farm management have been identified, formalised and described; they are guided by a business and market oriented logic and have fully addressed the requests coming from the new CAP not only as ties and obligations but as growth opportunities.

The elements of excellence, that characterise Best Practises, have been identified with reference to the following areas:

  • Interaction with the local context;
  • Traceability and tracing back;
  • Quality (Process and Product);
  • Multifunctionality;
  • Environmental Management and Sustainability;
  • Marketing;
  • Use of ICT;
  • Farm planning and management.

 

The farms selected on the basis of a first  territorial reconnaissance, have been interviewed through ad hoc tools of detection and have been evaluated by researchers of the  partner countries for an analysis of strengths and weaknesses of the farm strategies with reference to the following criteria of evaluation:

  • Approach based on the territory;
  • Pro-active entrepreneurial   approach;
  • Cooperation and partnership;
  • Innovation of process / product;
  • Perspective of integration and networking;
  • Perspective of chain;
  • Effective and efficient management;
  • Transferability of process / product;
  • Sustainability;
  • Diversification (service, product and markets).

Subsequently,  an action of comparison has been carried out in order to identify the farms more representative of models of Best Practices, which have been described  formalising organisational and managerial processes that have determined and consolidated the excellence through an evaluation made on the basis of specific indicators of performance:

  • Effectiveness of farm action;
  • Efficiency;
  • Quality;
  • Productivity;
  • Well-being of people working in the farm;
  • Innovation;
  • Profitability;
  • Adaptability

 

The outcome of this hard-working  process of identification, selection and formalisation has led us to describe 11 Farms whose sheets can be consulted within the “Review of Best Practices”.

 

Model Farm

 

Developed as the story of a farm from its birth as far as the current state of development, “Model Farm” is the final outcome of the second phase of survey on the field.

It is the formalisation of a model farm with reference to elements of excellence connected with:

  • activities performed (activities and tasks);
  • products / services delivered;
  • processes adopted;
  • devices and tools employed;
  • procedures of management, monitoring and control for the Quality Assurance.

The reference to concrete cases of farm management, collected in the “Review of Best Practices” has oriented the modelling so to make it coherent with principles of exemplariness, truthfulness , credibility and internal coherence and sustainability thanks to a precise and detailed reference to:

  • elements of excellence that are effectively detectable, mutatis mutandis, in each farm which have similar characteristics to the our, even if not in the  entirety ;
  • situations described with reference to concrete activities that are also coherent with the management of a farm;

an internal coherence of the various processes articulated as single parts which contribute to the harmonisation of the farm and to the functionality as a whole.

 

Virtual Farm

 

It is a 3D environment of virtual interactive and synchronous learning: reconstruction of a farm, as physical place in which learners will have the opportunity to carry out a virtual internship, by covering or exchanging entrepreneurial roles within the chain.

It is developed with Unity technology as a Web-based system with flexible open standards such as the WebGL. It allows learners to manage the use of spaces and materials of virtual learning within a modular structure. The applet allows learners to be teleported in various places of the areas, recording the different actions through a video-camera which is controlled through proper softare.

The 3D environment provides learners with an immersive experience of farm management through which they can test themselves in managerial/entrepreneurial roles as a way to improve their abilities to take initiative, self-confidence, learning to learn, decision making, work in team, take on responsibility as well as develop transversal, professional and technical skills in order to train them to become future agricultural entrepreneurs and managers, able to interact in a proactive way with the business scenarios.

A special thank to Company Sgorbati, and especially Mr. Alberto Sgorbati, for the kind authorization to use the videos of machinery and the descriptions of the transformation processes, allowing us to reconstruct them in the Virtual Farm.

See other pictures of V-Farm here.

 
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