ORGANIC farming can be a profitable alternative to conventional farming. And to meet demand for new entrants to organic farming, Teagasc is organising an approved organic farming course at the Teagasc office, Tullamore commencing Wednesday, January 26.
This 25 hour course is FETAC accredited to Level 5 standard and will be run for one day per week over a five week period.
In Ireland the sector is growing steadily and currently occupies 1.2% of the total farmed area in the country, a doubling in area over the last decade.
Latest Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food figures show there are 1,692 organic operators registered with 52,390 ha of land under organic production.
It is envisaged that the area farmed organically will increase further in the coming years due to a strong market demand for organic produce, the suitability of many farms to organic conversion, and scheme/grant incentives on offer from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.
James McDonnell, Teagasc organic specialist says "This course is an excellent way of learning about what is involved in organic farming across a range of enterprises. It is aimed primarily at those who are considering starting up in organic farming but also at existing organic farmers. The course meets the requirement outlined by the Minister for brand new applicants to the organic farming scheme which is planned to re-open early this year."
Continuing he said, "The course will involve both indoor sessions and visits to local organic farms. Apart from learning about the principles and standards involved in organic production, participants will get training on completing the farm business plan required for the scheme."
He also pointed out that already over 500 farmers have completed the 25-hour FETAC accredited course across the country.
The course will cover among other topics the principles of organic production, organic standards and regulations and the economics and market opportunities for organic produce.
Admission is €200/person or family and pre-booking is essential. Application forms and further details are available from the James McDonnell on (087) 3293820.