Are training programs the answer?

Speaking at the recent Australian Agronomy Conference in Hobart, Di Carpenter said there is a huge need for flexible training programs for Australian farm women to bolster the sustainability of the family farm.

Ms Carpenter, the Pulse Development Officer with NSW Agriculture at Wagga Wagga, said the current situation is that farm women do not generally play a major role in farm operations or management, nor do they participate in extension activities.

Major reasons are under-school-age children and the women's own perception that they lacked the skill levels of their partners and the group. They often did not understand large parts of technical discussions and felt threatened 'by all the jargon'.

Ms Carpenter, who initiated the Yerong Creek Women's Cropping Group in NSW, said a goal should be to lessen the knowledge gap by providing a welcome learning environment.

Women in the Yerong group flagged their interest in: marketing, a predominantly office-based skill that could be done by a mother; crop monitoring — including inspecting crops for weeds and insects; and medium-term planning.

Ms Carpenter said women in the group met monthly and "in a short time they have developed skills and learnt sufficient jargon to enable them to go home and communicate about cropping issues with their partners and other farmers".

The conference was supported by growers and the Federal Government through the GRDC.

Program 4.1.4 Contact: Ms Di Carpenter 02 6938 1900