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A national programme to increase profitability and productivity of sheep and beef farmers by strengthening farming partnerships is being scaled up to reach 2800 farms.
Since 2014, almost 500 women involved in sheep and beef farming businesses have completed the Understanding Your Farming Business (UYFB) programme, designed and delivered by the Agri-Women’s Development Trust (AWDT). That included 50 women who last month graduated from the similar AWDT programme for Maori women, Wahine Maia Wahine Whenua.
The four-month programme, funded by the Red Meat Profit Partnership , builds business and communication skills, and confidence of farming women, empowering them to view themselves and their farming roles differently and help lift farm performance.
Extension of the partnership funding would enable another 2300 women involved in sheep and beef farming businesses to do the course over the next four years.
Registrations were now open for the 24 individual programmes to be held in 2017, including Kurow, Waikouaiti, Middlemarch, Lumsden, Milton, Invercargill and Timaru.
AWDT executive director Lindy Nelson said the trust had had increased demand from both women and men for this type of development and graduates were now making a big impact in their businesses.
"Constant evaluation and ongoing research shows that graduates are going back to their businesses and creating new momentum in their farming partnerships.
"They are asking new questions, and offering new thinking and skills. As a result, these farmers are gaining more control over their futures.
"This is not only about women — it’s about the farming partnership and men are highly supportive of women’s increased involvement.
"We’re seeing men encouraging their partners to do the programme and then feeling supported themselves as partners. [They become] increasingly involved in discussions, operational strategy and decision-making," she said.
AWDT had boosted its facilitation team to more than 20 industry experts, including some graduates of the programme. New systems and staff to administer the higher numbers of participants were also in place.
Independent research specific to UYFB was being carried out and results were expected to be released early next year.