Rosa Balas, President of the Executive Committee of the European Academy of Yuste Foundation, highlighted the Foundation’s support and its collaboration with the Entrepreneurship Program for Tobacco Growers, because “tobacco growing is essential in the area” and “it trains professionals from the sector to make use of their experience, pledging to offer a better future to the area and, by extension, the whole of Extremadura”.

Balas underlined the “inclusive nature” of the Entrepreneurship Program in that it brings together different generations of tobacco growers as well as institutions, the University of Extremadura, cooperatives and production companies, becoming a “shared success model”. In this sense, she added that the Foundation is giving intensive and active assistance to the project, given that, in addition, the training is conducted at its facilities, running this year from 14 December to 2 March 2016.

Begoña García, Minister of the Environment and Rural Affairs, Agricultural Policies and Territory, also took part in the opening ceremony and conveyed the “commitment” of the Government of Extremadura to the tobacco industry and recognized the efforts made by Philip Morris throughout these years for the development of the program, which has been attended by 90 student professionals from the tobacco sector from the regions of La Vera and Campo Arañuelo. For the Minister, the key lies in the “union of all the administrations, which make these projects go forward”. She also referred to the significance of this strategic sector for the region, and more specifically for the north of the province of Cáceres, as it “accounts for 95% of production in Spain and provides employment for 2,100 producers”.

The entrepreneurship program began as a way of meeting the needs of the tobacco farmers and the agricultural cooperatives which, in recent years, have had to undergo a profound transformation process to ensure the continuity of their business, following the reduction in aid from the European Union, and, for this purpose, “we need a vision of leadership, a change in mentality in order to think ahead and offer alternatives and solutions to the problems and challenges of the current context”, declared the Minister.

Finally, García offered the tobacco industry “support and assistance” to seek solutions within the European context in order to bring about the economic and social sustainability of the rural environment.

As for Ainhoa Capdevila, Manager of Communication and Corporate Social Responsibility of Philip Morris, she stressed that the training aims to “provide efficient and innovative tools to contribute to the empowerment of the sector in view of its uncertain future”.

She also emphasized that the program is “a shared success model which brings together all the people and the organizations and institutions which have made it possible”.

The event was attended by students from the fifth program, who received the “Professional Expert” qualification, selected students from the sixth program, teachers from the program, managers and presidents of cooperatives and associations, specialists and farmers.