Dr Nic Lampkin, Director of Organic Centre Wales
10 July 2008
Aberystwyth University has welcomed the announcement made today (Thursday 10 July) by the Minister for Rural Affairs, Elin Jones AM, that it has been awarded the contract to run the Farming Connect Organic Development Programme.
The three year contract worth £825,000 has been awarded to Organic Centre Wales (OCW), which forms part of the University's Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS).
Professor Wayne Powell, Director Designate of IBERS, which was formed following the recent merger of the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research into Aberystwyth University, said: “The close linking of the IGER Grassland Development Centre with OCW's Development Programme is a good example of the opportunities that the merger has made possible. We are very pleased to see knowledge transfer initiatives of this type complementing the scientific work of the Institute.”
Dr. Nic Lampkin, Director of Organic Centre Wales, said: “We welcome the recognition for our work with organic producers and those considering conversion to organic production that the award of this contract represents. We have been involved in the delivery of Farming Connect services to organic producers since 2002.”
“The new contract represents an extension of the work, with the focus on stronger regional delivery and the integration of expertise from the Grassland Development Centre. We are now well placed to support the large expansion in organic production that has taken place this year,” he added.
A network of 10 demonstration farms and 20 discussion groups will be supported by three knowledge transfer officers based at OCW in Aberystwyth and at the WAG Divisional Offices in Llandrindod, Carmarthen and Caernarfon. Soil, forage and grassland knowledge transfer will be provided by staff from the Grassland Development Centre at IBERS.
OCW will be present at key shows and events across Wales, including the Royal Welsh and the Winter Fair. Farming Connect will also support this year’s organic producer conference on Thursday 23rd October in Builth Wells, which for the first time will be run jointly with the Grassland Development Centre and the Welsh Grassland Societies, providing an opportunity for organic and non-organic producers to come together and find solutions to the current high cost of feed and fertiliser inputs.
The Farming Connect Organic Development Programme can be accessed by calling Organic Centre Wales on 01970 622100 or registering with the Farming Connect Service Centre on 08456 000813.
The Grassland Development Centre at IBERS has a strong track record of delivering independent research outcomes, such as solutions for organic farm systems using a range of extension methods including facilitation and group work, across the dairy and red meat sectors, and cropping and energy crop sectors. Key elements include soil and nutrient management, comprehensive grassland and forage management for production, environmental gain and legislative requirements.
Organic farming in Wales increased by 22% in 2007, according to Defra data. At the end of 2007, 857 farms in Wales managed 96,000 ha organically, representing 6.4% of Welsh agricultural land area, well ahead of England at 3.7%. More than 300 farmers applied to join the Welsh Organic Farming Scheme in 2008, which will result in a substantial increase in the organically managed land area.