A NEW sense of confidence, focus and the skills you need to drive forward your business.

A young farmer from North Wales has been describing how the Agri Academy experience impacted on him.

Rhys Griffith is developing the family upland beef and sheep farm at Penisarwaun, near Caernarfon, as efficiently and sustainably as he can with help from his family.

Inspired by the entrepreneurial flair of a number of his relatives, Rhys believes that diversification holds the key to a long-term sustainable and profitable future for them all.

Aberystwyth agriculture graduate Rhys, 29, is already following in the footsteps of his late grandfather and his late father, who sadly passed away in 2016.

“I’ve always seen business alongside farming since both my grandfather and father both had an entrepreneurial streak.

“They were successful businessmen as well as good farmers and keen shire horse showmen, so I’ve had a great opportunity to learn a lot from them.”

In 2017, Rhys took part in the Agri Academy business and innovation programme and says the experience proved to him that he had just the same goals, drive and enthusiasm for business as his family had demonstrated all those years ago.

“Going through the Agri Academy, which included a number of very inspiring and educational visits to farm businesses in the UK and Switzerland, I gained a new sense of confidence and focus, new business skills and a new network of like-minded individuals and mentors who encouraged me to turn my own goals into reality,” he added.

Rhys’ grandfather had a successful farm caravan park from the 1950s, which he sold in 1980, while his great grandfather owned a bowling green, cinema, sweet shop and perhaps most importantly, the first big car in the village!

“My dad always liked cars too and that’s how he initially started a wedding car hire business.

“He later decided to diversify further by starting an independent funeral directors company, developing the business to include making headstones.

“Before he passed away, an opportunity arose to buy a local monumental stonemasons’, who were also our main competitors, which we now continue to run alongside the other family businesses.”

Rhys is a great believer in tapping into Farming Connect services and training, which he credits with helping him improve his grazing management and increase both productivity and profitability of the livestock enterprise.

Alongside this, determined to keep the family tradition going, he recently bought a local nursing home which he plans to convert into a new stream of income by providing bespoke accommodation for holiday makers.

In January this year, Rhys won a Royal Welsh Agricultural Society bursary to attend the prestigious Oxford Farming Conference.

He credits his Agri Academy experience with giving him the confidence to apply for this and make a good impression at the interview.

He has also been selected as one of 50 farmers, from more than 400 applications, to participate in the Tesco Future Farmers Programme this year.

“So many fantastic opportunities have come my way since I took part in the Agri Academy, and although it’s a job to leave the farm and the businesses sometimes, I would urge anyone thinking about it to get their application in as soon as they can.

“It’s an experience not be missed.”

The application window for the Agri Academy business and innovation programme and the junior programme, a joint collaboration with Wales YFC (for those aged between 16 and 19) is open until Friday, March 31.

For further information, to hear previous candidates’ experience of the programme and to download application forms, visit www.gov.wales/farmingconnect