By Marian Jones on Feb 17, 09 02:06 PM

Welsh farmers and agricultural businesses were urged today to be more energetic and "hands-on" in drawing up ideas to boost their enterprises and to make their communities better places to live in.

"In this country we are very good at looking at drawing up strategic plans but other European countries are more hands-on and really get on with carrying out projects," said Farmers' Union of Wales vice president Glyn Roberts.

He was speaking after attending the recent Wales Rural Network launch conference which enabled rural practitioners to meet each other and begin the process of networking and exchanging ideas about the Rural Development Plan (RDP) for Wales 2007-2013.

Representatives of organisations from the public, private and voluntary sectors with an interest in agriculture and rural development were joined by guest speakers from Slovenia and the Irish Republic.

"The guest speakers were far more energetic about drawing up and carrying out various projects but in our country our energies are used far too much on strategic planning," said Mr Roberts.

The RDP, with £795m in funding, consists of four main parts - Axis 1 (with an £89m budget) is mainly about increasing competitiveness in farming, forestry and food processing, Axis 2 (£594m budget) focuses on conserving our landscape and environment, Axis 3 (£75m) aims to improve everyday life and diversify the rural economy and Axis 4 (£32m) is about helping people develop their communities.

"During the conference there was much talk among the 150 delegates of more cohesion between the four Axes and moving some monies between Axes," said Mr Roberts.

"The Welsh Assembly Government is good at working out a strategy for this and a strategy for that but I would like to see more bonding between the various axes and strategies."

Conference speakers shared their experiences of networking and good practice and delegates attended workshops to give their opinions on how they would like to see the Wales Rural Network progress.

Based in Northgate Street, Aberystwyth, the network team is getting underway on a wide range of activities to support it aims to share good practice and promote co-operation.

Some areas of work planned over the course of the RDP period include:

* Establishment and support for groups on key topics within the RDP, incorporating cross-Axis working where appropriate.

* Set up of a website, database and partner search tool to support communications and co-operation within the rural network.

* Provision of training, mentoring, support and information for local action groups.

* Support for inter-territorial and trans-national working.

* Helping with the establishment of the UK Rural Network.

If you have any suggestions for successful networking, contact the Wales Rural Network team at or on 01970 653934 with any comments or queries.

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