Adult education and agriculture play complementary roles in local socio economic development. Over past 100 years, agricultural educators have been pioneers in the development of adult education programs, yet emphasis on adult education in agriculture itself has declined in recent years in a number of European countries, as a result the need for interdisciplinary training is reflected in a number of agricultural areas, particularly where jobs and safeguarding of material necessities for living are at stake.
The Charter of European Agricultural Education from 2013 sees European agriculture being in need of a multi-functional, sustainable and competitive economic factor embracing the whole of the EU area, including regions with specific problems. To achieve this, and address common challenges, i.e.new requirements with regard to use of ICTs, foreign languages and production methods – quality standards, greater attention to environmental protection or health aspects, for example – make it necessary for all concerned to continuously upgrade and revise their knowledge. Processing and marketing of agricultural products is no longer exclusive realm of the processing industry or trade. Shift in these operations to producers themselves calls for the corresponding know-how as well. Finally, diversification of income sources to safeguard a reasonable standard of living in rural areas demands additional knowledge and skills.
Agri producers in Southern and Eastern Europe by default decide to grow traditional agricultural products because they have no or limited knowledge for growing other cultures, as well as no information on how to be more competitive on market. Rural agricultural producers follow the traces of their ancestors, trying to produce crop in order to cover expenses and earn for a life. In those terms, it is significantly important for this category of people to be properly informed on all opportunities they might have, and to be encouraged not to force traditional habits in agriculture, but to get involved in a modern agri production. It has also been perceived that agri producers do not exploit enough the LLL opportunities that would enable them to gain additional knowledge in agriculture, develop business skills and boost their entrepreneurial spirit. Agricultural educators rarely produce applied research work or and are very passively involved in agricultural education.
For these reasons, our project strives to improve the system of adult education in agriculture and rural development in 10 partner communities through strengthening competencies of agricultural adults educators. The project will enable better understanding of the needs and potential direction for further development of adults education system in the field of agriculture in 10 partner countries; strengthening of professional competences of more than 3000 agricultural adult educators in the field of English language, transversal skills and agri-business skills; innovating, upgrading and modernizing of the existing agricultural adult education programs offered in 10 partner countries; filling the skills gap of agricultural producers hampering their income; networking of and best practice sharing among agricultural adult educators through webinars and e-platform; cooperation between the agricultural producers and educators will be improved (business and academic axes).