Start of organic farming

 This handbook is developed to improve quality and availability of didactic material on organic agriculture in North Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia and Bulgaria. It offers a resources basis for
trainers with the idea of encouraging individual adaptation and further development of the
material according to the needs. This material can be used as a guide and source book to
implement training programmes. It will help develop training the structure of training course
or workshop and provide material and ideas for its organisation.
It is anticipated that trainers and trainees already have some agricultural background and
that the training activities will focus on aspect specifically relevant to organic agriculture.
However, it does not provide in-depth practical know-how management of specific crops or
animals. The handbook addresses trainers and resources persons who are engaged in training activities on organic agriculture. It can be used to facilitate training for trainers and extension workers, but also directly for farmers interested in learning about organic agriculture.
The main focus is on crop production, although animal husbandry is covered in one chapter.
Training on organic agriculture can address a wide range of participants. 

For some of them
the knowledge provided in the handbook will be too basic and the trainers will have to consult the recommended readings to get more detailed information and knowledge. For others
the provided topics and ideas are already too scientific or the language too complicated,
such that trainers may need to simplify the theory and use local examples for illustration.
The main focus of the handbook is on small farmers in the countries covered by the project
North Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia and Bulgaria. This region includes various types of crops
and farming systems. Therefore the handbook addresses mostly topics of general relevance
but provides examples from different countries.
Training approach
Training manual is based on a training approach combining lectures, illustrations and demonstrations, and active participation of trainees. A balanced mix of these elements allows understanding of organic agriculture through listening, seeing, experience sharing and trying.
It is assumed that participants can contribute to the program of the training based on their
background and experience. Therefore, interactive elements and practical exposure (field
visits) in the course are highly encouraged and the manual will aid their implementation.
The handbook is divided in 13 sections: an introduction containing recommendations on the
didactic and organizational aspects of the training program,

 the 11 core chapters dealing
with the basic topics of organic farming (principles of ecology and agroecology, soil management and plant nutrition, organic pest and disease management, organic production of
8 9
arable crops and vegetable as well as fruit and viticulture, animal husbandry, traceability and
certification in organic farming, multifunctionality in organic farming). Final section of the
handbook represents an Annex containing work material and a list of sources. Each chapter
starts with a brief introduction to the topic followed by several subchapters containing brief
theory paragraphs.
Organizing training course
Steps for preparing training course
The following questions should help you to prepare a successful training program:
1. What is your target group?
The effect of the training will depend of whether you address right group of people in the
right way. Therefore, you should first consider your target group: To whom do you want to
address the training? How can you make sure that these people are participating? What is
their motivation to participate?
Also, think of what is the maximum number of participants you can handle in the training.
The more participatory training is, the less participants can be admitted. In case you have to
select from a larger group of participants, you should think about the selection procedure
and criteria.
2. What are the objectives of the training?
Once the target group is clear, the next step is to define what you want to achieve with the
training. Which kind of knowledge, awareness and skills do you want to develop among
the participants? Is it the same as what the participants want to learn? During the training,
especially towards the end of a course, you should check whether these objectives have
been reached. The participant’s opinion can be assessed with simple evaluation or feedback
3. Which topics should be covered?
Next you should think about the topics must be tackled in order to achieve the training
objectives. Arrange the topics in a logical order so as to help the participants find their way
through the training. Is it possible to include the participant’s expectations and wishes?
When selecting the topics you want to cover in a specific session, first think about what is
your main message and what are the important points the participants must know. Do not
try to be complete but relevant. The participants will not keep more than a few points per
session in their memory. Therefore, repeate your main points time and again and structure
your session around them. Use illustrative examples to reinforce your main points.
4. Which training methods should be used?
How can selected topics and lessons learnt be most efficiently transferred to the participants? Speech is an important method of transferring knowledge, but people learn more efficiently if they not only hear but also see, feel, experience and discover new things. A sound
mix of different training methods can therefore help to make the training more effective and
interesting. For many topics, the trainer will not have readymade solution at hand, but ideas
and solutions can be developed together with the participants. Find ways in which participants can contribute their own experience and interact in the training.

 Also, think of other
resource persons who can cover certain topics.
Developing a training schedule
When planning a training schedule, keep the following points in mind:
• Participants will not listen to you more than 20 minutes.
• Break the monotony with visual material, exercises, stories, contribution of participants,
ice breakers and jokes.
• Plan for sufficient time and stick to the timing you have promised.
• If possible avoid lectures or presentations directly after the lunch. Schedule exercises,
games and excursions instead to make the participants move.
Through planning of topics and their timing in the available training period is must. A template for a planning sheet and an example for a two-days training schedule are given in Annex. Schedules should be presented in the beginning of the training and adapted according
to the feedback of the participants.

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