"For us, it is essential to have more young farmers and rural entrepreneurs to rejuvenate the business fabric. We are the country with the highest rate of aging in this sector. Portugal has more than 55% of its farmers over 65 years old and has the lowest rate of rejuvenation, of 3.9%, when the European average is 10%.", said the director general of AJAP, Firmino Cordeiro.
The official, who was speaking on the sidelines of the national launch of the "Living Laboratory of Agriculture 4.0", a digital platform available on the official website of AJAP, free of charge, explained that "the potential combination of the two figures, [the young farmer and the young rural entrepreneur] can be a huge contribution to the rejuvenation of rural territories, through the constitution of companies linked to the agricultural sector, or the trade, industry, and services associated with it."
The project was presented at Largo de Camões, in the historic centre of Ponte de Lima, having as its stage a bus that will travel the country to publicize the new tool.
Firmino Cordeiro stressed that, currently, "to talk about agriculture is to talk about precision and even robotization."
"All this information appears on this platform, allowing training and more speed in the advancement of business projects," he said, stressing that this instrument is aimed at those who are already in the activity or who want to launch.
The director general of AJAP recalled that the association "has a network of technicians distributed throughout the country that can help to think and install the agricultural project."
"It is necessary to improve the image of agriculture, it is necessary to install more young farmers, it is necessary to install young rural entrepreneurs, to give new life to the territories," he warned.
The mayor of Ponte de Lima stressed that the choice of the village for the national launch of the digital platform represents "the recognition of the economic potential of the primary sector in the municipality."
"It is our intention to support, on a continuous basis, agricultural entrepreneurs, namely through training and capacity building. This platform meets our intention. It is a project that will facilitate the start of business activity of young farmers but, at the same time, those who have already been installed in the territory for many years, "said Vasco Ferraz.
The mayor of the CDS-PP stressed the "ease of use of information", considering that it will be "an extraordinary tool to face the needs and challenges of everyday life".
"Even for the tourist activity of the county, the treatment of the landscape is fundamental and this treatment often starts from the use of agricultural soil. In recent years, we have an increasingly disorganized forest, and this is because the sector has been slowly abandoning the territories."
The regional director of Agriculture and Fisheries of the North, Luís Brandão, highlighted "the significant value of the digital platform for the opportunity it gives for training."
"We live in a time when agriculture is somehow mistreated for being considered as a major spender of water and polluter, among other aspects. This does not correspond to reality," he stressed.
Agriculture "is a very demanding activity," he said, arguing that it is "fundamental that people can be aware of what is emerging, introducing more technology into production cycles and, with this, developing the activity."
"The technologies when they are applied end up arousing greater interest to young people and this is also fundamental to renew the social fabric of this sector."
The "Living Laboratory of Agriculture 4.0", promoted by AJAP, has the support of Portugal 2020 under COMPETE 2020 – Operational Program Competitiveness and Internationalization.
In addition to the 'online' platform, functional from today, a mobile version is being developed for quick and intuitive access to the information made available.