Organic.MedNet: Developing the Skills of Organic Agriculture Trainers for the Mediterranean
Programme: SEVENTH FRAMEWORK PROGRAMME Programme Acronym: LEONARDO DA VINCI Contract Type: NO CONTRACT TYPE Start Date: 2009-10-01 End Date: 2011-09-30 Contract No: N/A Role for TUC/MUSIC: Contractor Funding for TUC/MUSIC: 54900.0 Euros Principal Investigator for TUC/MUSIC: Stavros Christodoulakis
Organic Agriculture (OA) is an increasingly important part of the food and agriculture industries in the traditional member states (EC, ‘OA in the EU: Facts and Figures’, 2005). Public awareness on environmental issues, as well as food safety and quality, have brought forward OA as an agricultural approach that can not only produce safer products but is environmentally sound too. Due to the particularities of the agricultural sector though it is difficult to promote the new culture of sustainable agricultural production to its stakeholders. Nevertheless, in countries such as Turkey and Spain the uptake of OA practices and techniques is still developing (facts & figures from www.organic-europe.net). Among others, the reasons for these countries lagging behind can be found in the slow introduction of OA topics as a priority of academic and vocational educational systems of all levels that contribute to the education of agricultural professionals. On the other hand, large international organizations (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements), as well as non-profit associations such as the Soil Association in UK, drive their own awareness and education initiatives for the promotion of OA in countries around the world. In addition, there have been during the past few years, several pilot actions that have increased the production of e-learning content on OA theory, methods and practices (such as the EcoJob-AP project, the BIOAGRO eContent project, the Organic.Edunet project, in which members of this consortium have participated). Such initiatives have various goals and are implemented in different socio-cultural and linguistic contexts. For instance, they may aim at promoting OA and educating producers/farmers and consumers about its benefits, or may focus on the training of agricultural professionals about the theory, methods and practices of OA. In several occasions they have been proven successful, and they could be appropriate candidates for transfer in new contexts and/or new countries. In this direction, Organic.Mednet aims to use existing results as a basis so that it appropriately adapts, transfers and validates them for training new user groups (such as young and unemployed agricultural professionals). The overall aim of Organic.Mednet is to facilitate the transfer of innovative training practices and e-learning content to the case of vocational education of young and unemployed agricultural professionals, as well as to agricultural professionals in new EU members: a) Validating the training needs previously identified for training extension officers in Netherlands, Austria, Greece and Spain on topics related to OA, in a new geographical context: extension officers in other regions of Greece, Spain and in Turkey. b) Selecting and analyzing innovative training programmes and e-learning content that has been previously developed to support training needs in previous initiatives. c) Adapting and testing the integration of the training programmes and e-learning content Integrating the e-learning content in Mediterranean-level, in the national and regional training systems and practices on OA of the three targeted countries (mainly Turkey), also comparing with the experience of existing integration in countries that have previously tried them (i.e. Greece, Spain, Netherlands and Austria). d) Adapting and enhancing the existing e-learning content on OA selected content in order to support the lifelong learning needs of extension officers in the participating Greek, Turkish and Spanish user organizations, through appropriately designed training scenarios. e) To collect, categorize and publish in an online learning repository the adapted e-learning content transferred content from previous initiatives in the form of digital training objects. f) To deploy a multilingual online environment (the Organic.Mednet Web Portal) that will facilitate end-users’ online search, retrieval, access and use of digital training objects in the online learning repository. g) To design a number of training scenarios that will introduce the use of the transferred e-learning content to support training of agricultural professionals in the participating user organizations. h) To carry out a set of focused pilot trials within Greece, Turkey and Spain that will compare the results from the transfer between the source and the targeted countries, and will validate the proposed training programme, training scenarios, and the transferred e-learning content. i) To promote and reinforce the cooperation of stakeholders in this particular content area, in order to maximize the impact of the transfer and support the sustainability of project results.