Farmers Get Qualified

A new flock of poultry farmers has made it through the 2 Sisters Growers Academy with flying colours and NVQ qualifications.

The 12 West Country farmers, all of whom produce chicken for 2 Sisters Willand, have been working towards their qualifications with the Academy - a training collaboration between Hook 2 Sisters and Duchy College - for just over a year.

Eleven of the growers received their NVQ3 qualifications, four of which were achieved as part of a new 'Advanced Apprenticeship' scheme which requires an NVQ3, Farm Technical Certificate, Key Skills (numeracy, literacy and IT), plus either ATV Quad Bike Handling or Telehandling.

"We're very proud of every 2 Sisters farmer who has achieved a qualification," said Andrew Maunder, commercial director of 2 Sisters Food Group. "We're committed to supporting ongoing training, as we believe professional and qualified farmers are essential to ensuring a quality product for us and our customers."

NFU poultry chairman Charles Bourns, who produces indoor-reared Freedom Food birds for 2 Sisters Willand, was one of the farmers to receive an NVQ3.

"It was a really useful learning process, even for an old hand like me," he said. "It's good to know first-hand that formal qualifications like the NVQ scheme don't need to be daunting or burdensome for farmers or farm workers.

"Increasingly, qualifications at this level will make compliance with ACP codes and the new broiler welfare directive much simpler. What's more the new Poultry Passport scheme will ensure these skills and qualifications are easily checked and transferable."

To date, more than 165 poultry farmers from the region have been through the Grower Academy, which was started in 2004. Training includes monthly classroom-based sessions and field trips to achieve a range of qualifications.

According to Duchy College, the Government is currently very keen to help fund this kind of scheme, and the College can help most people access bursaries and funding to train at a reduced cost, especially those aged under 25 years old.