Over 20,000 farmers registered on Knowledge Transfer Programme

There are 20,252 farmers registered with the Department of Agriculture under the Knowledge Transfer Programme, the Minister for Agriculture has said.

In response to a parliamentary question from Fianna Fail’s Charlie McConalogue last week, he said that while the Rural Development Programme (RDP) envisages the training of 27,000 farmers over the period to 2020, no specific target was set in relation to the number of groups to be formed.

A breakdown of the figures shows that of the 20,252 farmers, 10,072 are beef farmers and over 4,000 are dairy farmers.

Sheep farmers (4,310), tillage farmers (885) and poultry farmers (248) make up the remaining numbers in the programme. There are also 479 farmers involved in equine Knowledge Transfer groups.

KT figures
“To date, 1,190 Knowledge Transfer Groups have been finalised with a small number deemed ineligible.

“Staff in my Department are currently liaising with facilitators to process a number of query and appeal cases on the small outstanding groups. Groups run for a three-year period from June 2016.

“The deadline for registration was extended to July 14, 2016 in order to allow further time for facilitators to finalise arrangements for their groups.”

The first round of payments to Knowledge Transfer (KT) Groups are expected to commence in June 2017, Brendan Gleeson, Assistant Secretary at the Department of Agriculture said in April of last year.

Under the three-year programme, farmers will receive an annual payment of €750, along with the costs to cover the facilitator/advisor, who runs the group meetings.

We know from previously nationally funded versions of this measure, that these groups are a tremendously effective way of imparting knowledge and expertise.

As a result, he said the Rural Development Programme includes the provision of €100m for KT groups.

“The measure of the success of this programme will not be how the individual participants involved fare, but how the lessons learned are transferred to farmers generally.”