Free course to boost agri-food business

La Trobe University and Agriculture Victoria are joining forces to offer a new free program to farmers and business people looking to transition their agri-food businesses to an online model, and those who are ready to scale up.

Digital Harvest, offers a series of online workshops designed to support agri-food businesses develop and enhance their skills and implement an effective e-commerce strategy as part of their ongoing operations for the future.

Minister for Agriculture, The Honorable Mary-Anne Thomas, said: “With more business being done via the internet, it makes sense for our farmers and producers to make the move online – it’s great to see organisations like La Trobe helping them to adapt and get their world class produce to more people.”

La Trobe Accelerator Program Director Dr Cerasela Tanasescu said the University is committed to supporting regional businesses through initiatives such as Digital Harvest.

“As a University with campuses across the state, we work closely with business-owners every day. We understand the many and varied challenges Victoria’s agricultural sector now faces,” Dr Tanasescu said.

“2020 was a tough year, but Digital Harvest is a golden opportunity for food producers to rapidly adapt and move forward, through harnessing the knowledge of our business experts and the experience of others who have already taken the step of using affordable digital solutions to benefit their e-agribusiness.”

Dr Tanasescu said topics covered include: Digital strategy agribusiness; Google platforms plugins and tools; analytics and data; search engine optimisation and search engine marketing; digital content and storytelling; email marketing, and social marketing.

Simon Mildren, founder of beekeeping software and sensor technology startup HiveKeepers, will host a workshop on innovation in agriculture as part of the program.

Mr Mildren, whose business is on the Mornington Peninsula as well as at an experimental farm outside Bendigo, said it was vital food producers embraced the business opportunities available through having a strong online presence.

“It’s easy to get comfortable and not realise the world is rapidly changing and we need to become better connected to it. Now is the time to develop these skills to position ourselves ahead of our competitors.”

Investible’s Head of Global Partners and Programs, Ms Elisa-Marie Dumas, said the agricultural community is incredibly passionate about what they do.

“But it takes more than passion to be successful in today’s competitive environment. Operators need to be willing and able to make significant changes to their business quickly – just as a seasoned entrepreneur would,” Ms Dumas said.

“The new Digital Harvest program will give farmers and agricultural businesses permission to experiment, gather feedback and test new ideas.”

Digital Harvest is an initiative involving Agriculture Victoria and Business Victoria, funded by the State Government’s $1.5m E-Commerce and New Marketplace Transition Package as part of its Agricultural Workforce Plan. La Trobe University will deliver the program with Investible, experts in entrepreneurial and business development, and partners Outcome.Life and La Trobe Business School.

Participants will join online workshops delivered over 12 weeks. Workshops will run midweek, for two hours, 6-8pm, from February to April.

Register here. Applications close February 4.

Media Contact: Kate O’Connor – k.o’ – 0436 189 629