Knowledge Transfer through Business Development Groups (BDG) is a scheme which is funded by the EU through the 2014-2020 Rural Development Programme. The scheme uses a group approach to improve the technical efficiency of farm businesses and will also offer participants the opportunity to gain a Level 3 qualification.

This Business Development Groups scheme is now OPEN. To apply visit

How will Business Development Groups work?

Discussion groups have been used throughout the world, in all agricultural sectors, as a way to improve farm business performance. They provide a forum for peer to peer learning, sharing ideas and an opportunity to keep up-to-date with new technology.

The Business Development Groups scheme was launched in November 2015 and today there are over 140 groups in operation. Each BDG will comprise around 20 like-minded farmers who will meet six times a year to focus on the topics agreed by the group. The group are managed by a dedicated facilitator and activities include on-farm meetings, demonstrations and skills training.

Farmers participating in the scheme benefit from benchmarking their business to identify areas that have the potential to be improved. A business development plan helps identify the actions to be taken to improve the technical efficiency of the business and improve the sustainability of the farm.

As participants work to improve the efficiency of their businesses, they will be awarded credits that will build towards gaining a level 3 qualification.

What are the benefits to farmers?

  • a clear development plan for your business
  • improve your profitability
  • keep up to date with the latest technologies
  • access to a CAFRE Development Adviser
  • option to gain a qualification
  • meet with like-minded individuals

Important information

Potential applicants should read the following documents before applying to join a Business Development Group:

The Business Development Groups Scheme is open for applications from 10.00am on Monday 18 November 2019 until 4.00pm on Friday 31 January 2020. To apply on-line visit

Online applications will be scored higher if the scheme is over-subscribed.

Where can you find out more information?

For further information or a paper application pack please contact CAFRE Knowledge Transfer Administration by email or telephone 028 9442 6790.

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