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This project is supported by the Leonardo Da Vinci programme of the European Commission.

The content of this project does not necessarily reflect the position of the European Community or the EU Leonardo da Vinci programme co-ordination support foundation, nor does it involve any responsibility on their part.

The demand of consumers for organically produced agricultural products and food is Europe-wide increasing and thus a new market for agricultural products is being created. Especially the accession countries are challenged after implementing the EU-agricultural and environmental programmes to apply the relevant legal regulations and to ensure the implementation of current quality standards for food production in Europe. The institutions for initial and further education and the advisory services in the agriculture and food production sector in the Baltics are insufficiently prepared to fulfil this major task. For example the agricultural schools and other educational institutions are recently responsible for initial farmers training in the Baltic states. The responsible co-ordinators for further training of farmers are the Ministries of Agriculture. However, agricultural counsellors are graduates from Agricultural Universities or Colleges under the responsibility of the Ministries of Education. Such different competencies lead to a non-existing system of further training for counsellors, only discontinuous practical training courses are organized either by different organizations or the agricultural advisory services themselves. Two ideas are therefore fundamental for this project: first, supporting and developing measures for training of vocational counsellors of Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian agricultural advisory service systems in ecological agriculture according to the needs of their countries and the EU and second, developing a training system for counsellors with the help of distance training elements, ensuring the continuity of project results.

The specific aims of the pilot project are:

  1. New effective education systems (material and human resources) created and adapted to national advisory services to train agricultural counsellors in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

  2. Modular courses in each national language of the Baltic countries and in English language created for vocational training of agricultural counsellors in ecological agriculture.

  3. The vocational training material in four specific areas will be prepared as handbooks and CD-ROM versions.

  4. Elements for distance training in ecological agriculture will be placed in Internet both in each national and English language.

In order to reach these goals, under the expert leadership of the four Baltic Agricultural Universities working groups will be established for the subjects Agri-environment, Organic crop production and horticulture, Ecological animal husbandry, Economics and marketing in ecological farming, into which representatives of the agricultural advisory services of the Baltic countries and the Western European partners will bring in their experience. Realizing this project will help to modernize the content of teaching in the vocational training as well as in the advisory services in all three Baltic countries and thus combining scientific and practical work.

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