Using a computer is now an essential part of running a farm business so a course teaching farmers the basics has attracted investment from the red meat sector.
Two years ago Pongaroa-based farm consultant Rachel Joblin ran the first basic computer skills course to meet demand from members of her local community.
It was such a success the Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP) is now funding a nationwide rollout.
Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) is the major investor in the building people and capability component of the profit partnership, of which the computer course is a part.
B+LNZ CEO, Dr Scott Champion says the course fits with RMPP’s philosophy of helping farmers develop skills to make use of existing products, rather than inventing new ones.
He adds that an increasing array of services are being offered online. Having the skills to use them will help farmers make more informed decisions and better manage their businesses.
“Computers are fast becoming an essential farm management tool and through its investment in RMPP, Beef + Lamb New Zealand is pleased to help make these computer courses available to farmers throughout the country.”
Rachel’s involvement in setting up the computer course happened almost by accident.
She explains that she was approached by farmers within her community who wanted to develop basic computer skills. She investigated options but found no trainers locally, so decided to do it herself.
The course is very much aimed at developing the basic skills farmers need to run their businesses. Starting at just turning the computer on and understanding what they are seeing to sending emails and using search engines.
“There are so many ah-ha moments when you see whole new worlds opening up to them.”
Many farmers have been relying on family members to use the computer for them, but that is not sustainable in a world where online communication is now the norm.
“It’s how other people want to communicate with us,” says Rachel. As she says, having a low level of computer skills hinders a farmer’s ability to pick up other farm management tools such as Farmax.
The courses to date have run in Pongaroa and at Taratahi. Nigel Fleming, who manages an 890ha sheep and beef farm near Masterton, completed the Taratahi course. Before then he’d been relying on his wife, Brigid to do all the computer work.
Nigel says he has learnt how to create files, so now has all of his killing data in one place, and adds that he often gets sent contracts by email which he is now better able to manage online.
He says he was surprised at just how much he enjoyed the experience. Importantly, it’s given him the confidence to continue developing his computer skills. In the future he suspects he will be looking to use farm and cash management software.