WOMEN who play an integral role in Pembrokeshire’s farming industry have been embracing new technology.

With IT skills becoming ever more important in agriculture, Farming Connect held an event at Wolfscastle aimed at educating people on using computers for farm book-keeping.

Members of Farming Connect’s ‘Merched Y Maes’ initiative were introduced to the basics of creating spreadsheets.

While most farm businesses are willing to embrace new technology, many are lagging behind and resisting the advance of what others see as inevitable progress, said Cathy Meredith, of the Institute of Agricultural Secretaries.

“Although farm businesses may have been able to survive without a computer in the past, it is becoming increasingly difficult to get away without one,” said Cathy, who led the Farming Connect knowledge transfer workshop.

“Farmers must have IT skills nowadays because computers are becoming more important and we are moving towards a situation where more and more needs to be done on the computer.”

This includes Single Application Forms, which will be available online from 2014 as the Welsh Government, through its Rural Payments Wales Online Programme, is currently developing the use of technology to streamline and speed up the application process for schemes managed by Rural Payments Wales.

Jamie McCoy, Farming Connect’s facilitator in south Pembrokeshire, said the IT session had provided attendees with a sound knowledge in the fundamentals of using computerised spreadsheets.

“We wanted to give people confidence to use computer-based records rather than recording everything on paper,” she explained.

Ann Williams, who was brought up on a farm, hopes spreadsheets will help her with VAT records.

“I think it is important to keep up with new technology and this course will give me a better understanding of how it works,” said Ann, who lives in Glogue, near Crymych.

Farming Connect is also running one-to-one record keeping surgeries which provide an opportunity for farmers to discuss their record books with Welsh Government officials. Similarly, people can apply for an appointment at a computer clinic, where they can brush up on their IT skills.

For more information contact Einir Davies on 01970 636297 or by email einir.davies@menter abusnes.co.uk.