Action 9 referred to the training offered to farmers, professional operators, and agronomists of the pilot and wider area of the Project in the following thematic units:
- Legislation regarding pesticides and their rational use
- Record-keeping of pesticides inputs into crops
- Application of low-input crop management protocols (LCM) and correct fertilization treatment
- Rational use and correct maintenance of spaying equipment
- Safe use of Pesticides with regards to human health and that of the environment
- Management of pesticides waste
- Procedures in case of accidents
This Action was implemented by the scientific personnel of the Project’s participating partners, through workshops of the previously mentioned professional teams, the theoretical and practical training of the trainees during three training periods (2010, 2011 and 2012), as well as the publication and distribution of training material on the thematic units of EcoPest
. In the frame of this project action, 63% of the farmers and 100% of the agronomists in the area were trained. Moreover, the training package produced for LIFE EcoPest’s requirements could itself be a proposal for an integrated training approach for the certified training of professional agricultural groups, according to the most recent European stipulations.
After the theoretical training was completed it was evaluated by the trainees. They filled in questionnaires about how satisfied they felt with the overall quality and comprehensiveness of the training and its likely general benefit. For each separate subject, they were asked how useful they felt it had been, how interesting on a theoretical and practical level, and if it had been sufficient. They were also invited to propose new subjects, and to add any further comments, remarks and suggestions.
Evaluating the level of understanding of the training content and its effectiveness was made possible by a concurrent question-and-answer method, combined with verbal discussion, applied by the trainers during training. During the second training period in 2011, trainees filled in questionnaires covering the material that had been taught to them, which allowed the EcoPest team ascertain the trainees’ level of understanding. Also, it was possible to evaluate the trainees indirectly, by watching and evaluating in the field how they performed during those practices connected with the safe use of agricultural chemicals, as covered by the “General Indicators” in Action 8. Finally a third training cycle took place in February 2012 that was especially focused on good agricultural practices in pesticides application and proper adjustment of spraying equipment, targeting as specified audience the local pesticide applicators.
Alongside the theoretical component, practical training also was carried out in the field during the 2010 and 2011 cropping periods (also performed in the 3rd training cycle in 2012). Finally, a series of lectures and meetings with farmers took place to provide recommendations on emergent problems, such as the cotton bollworm.
Action 9 was fulfilled according to the Project proposal.