Title Introducing Marketing Principles in the Agricultural Sector - FARM INC
Project Number 2013-1-IT1-LEO05-03986
Project Type Transfer of Innovation
Agricultural businesses and farms are increasingly challenged by a rapidly changing business environment and an increased global competition.
There is a great potential for regional and local products in the market, but also a lack of marketing strategies, such as regional branding, that enable SMEs to better address the consumers’ need for local, high-quality products. The Farm Inc. project contributed to strengthen agricultural SMEs competitivness by developing a training tool that help agricultural entrepreneurs to:
• Gain an increased understanding about the necessity to apply novel marketing strategies, such as regional branding to their SME;
• Upgrade their skills and competences in order to better brand and market their products;
• Provide help and support for businesses to open up new markets and to internationalize their business activities in order to stay more competitive in a global market.
Small agricultural enterprises and farmers are in a disadvantageous position to other players in the food chain (food manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers). Often times their efforts to maintain and improve their market position and to upgrade their market share or to expand their business internationally goes unrewarded. It is obvious that one single SME cannot compete with the marketing power of multinational companies. However, a new trend in the agricultural sector provides a great chance for small enterprises and farmers: Rural Branding.
Therefore, the overall objective of the Farm Inc project was to improve the quality of continuous vocational training and the acquisition of skills for the agricultural sector through the adaptation and further development of a specific marketing training tool. The challenge was to highlight to the agricultural enterprises in the project countries (IT, EL, LV, CY, BE) the importance of using novel marketing principles such as branding and internationalisation in their workplace. Farm Inc developed training material to upgrade the skills to better brand and market rural products and to internationalise the business, taking advantage of the chances that the EU Common Market offers. In the long term this will help to increase their bargaining power in the existing food chain and to open new market possibilities in a continuously evolving EU and World economy.
More specifically Farm Inc had the purpose to:
- Adapt, develop, and transfer the existing innovative Methodological training Tool for Marketing-MTTM, developed under the LdV Proud Farmer project, in order to address the needs of the agricultural community in the target countries.
- Develop interactive training methods for this material (such as videos, animation, links) to facilitate the learning process.
- Provide VET trainers with a concise and user friendly training tool to address the needs of learners in the agricultural sector
- Strive for the integration of the MTTM in official VET systems in the target countries and beyond.
Farm Inc achieved these aims through the elaboration of a needs and transferability analysis, the adaptation and development of the training material. Pilot testing and structured dissemination activities of project results to relevant stakeholders (national and local authorities, VET providers, agricultural associations etc.) have been performed in order to ensure their sustainability beyond the duration of the project.
The Farm Inc consortium consisted of 8 partner institutions from 5 LLP countries (BE, CY, EL, IT, LV) with complementary profiles (universities, agricultural associations, VET providers, consulting firms) and expertise ensuring the smooth implementation of all project activities. Each partner had a clearly defined role in the project based on their expertise.
The main objective of the project was to produce a training tool, tailor-made on the needs of farmers in three target Countries: Greece, Italy and Latvia. Research started with the creation of a questionnaire, based on a self-assessment approach and integrated with results arising from Focus Groups held in each Country. The questionnaire was distributed to all agricultural sector stakeholders: farmers and their associations, agricultural entrepreneurs, VET experts, local and national public bodies and their intermediaries.
Analysis of results demonstrated that farmers and agricultural entrepreneurs' preferences are very similar in all target Countries. Farmers preferred learning through experience rather than classroom training, as demonstrated by the high score reached for activities such as: participation to fairs, conferences, farm and study visits, field days. VET providers, on the other hand, highlighted the need to support practical experience with some basic theoretical background (blended learning). Classroom training helps farmers to acquire basic marketing concepts, while more advanced skills can be learned through experiential learning. Authentic testimonials and experiences from farms were selected ad hoc by each partner Country according to national needs, in order to ensure a relevant tool for all farmers involved. The output is innovative because all basic theoretical concepts, practical experiences and self-assessment exercises were integrated into a single training tool, proposed to become the vademecum for marketing in the agricultural sector.
The project consisted of six Work Packages (WPs), organized as follows:
WP1 Project Management and Monitoring
WP2 Quality & evaluation management
WP3 Needs and Transferability Analysis
WP4 Adaptation, enhancement and specialization
WP5 Pilot implementation
WP7 Exploitation & Sustainability
Open and distance learning
Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing
Accommodation and Food Service Activities
Information and Communication
material for open learning
open and distance learning
Product information An interactive e-book was created as integrated training tool. It contains basic marketing principles for the agricultural sector as well as practical experiences (case studies, field visits etc).