A £20MILLION training scheme aimed at more than 90,000 aspiring entrepreneurs has been launched.

Rural firms across the North-East and North Yorkshire are being offered training and advice on business management, market opportunities and IT in workshops to gain industry-recognised qualifications.

The scheme is funded in part by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs' (Defra) Rural Development Programme for England.

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Farms in North Yorkshire have already benefitted from the courses, with 10 farmers taking exams in crop protection.

Owen Paterson, Environment Secretary, said the programme will improve skills and business' knowledge of home and export markets.

He said: “For too long the needs of rural business people have been overlooked but those days are now over.

“Businesses in the remotest parts of the country will now have access to the best training so they can grow and help our country to compete even more in the global race.”