A PROMINENT Scots land agent has demonstrated its commitment to a Scottish Government initiative to encourage diversity by supporting a dozen women in the rural sector.

The Women in Agriculture initiative followed a report indicating that women are a crucial part of the national farming effort, but they remained a group whose contribution continued to be marginalised.

It was launched by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon last year aimed at raising awareness and improving gender equality in farming and agriculture.

It also encourages an ethos of enabling all individuals within the sector to apply and develop their skills and abilities.

Land and estate agency Bell Ingram has been providing support and professional development for women in the arena, and has strengthened its team in Forfar with the appointment of a new assistant land agent.

The firm, which was established 117 years ago, now has 12 women working in what was previously a male-dominated sector and believes that the mix of skills and genders between the team members enables it to bring a more rounded service to its clients.

Daragh Connon, a 22-year-old, from Banchory, Aberdeenshire, joined Bell Ingram immediately following her graduation from Scotland’s Rural University College (SRUC).

She will undertake two years of on-the-job training, known as an Assessment of Professional Competence (APC), to become a Rural Chartered Surveyor.

Connon said: “I’ve really enjoyed my time with Bell Ingram so far, everyone in the office is so nice and completely supportive.

“Although I am originally from a farming family, I’ve always had an interest in rural activities and tried a few to decide what I wanted to do as a career.

“Whilst I do still enjoy them, I found that I was always drawn back to farming.

“When I was in college, I didn’t actually consider this as an option until I was around halfway through my degree.

“The rural APC pathway appealed to me as it meant I could learn and work at the same time.”

Her honours degree in Rural Business Management should help in her pursuit of a career in the sector.

Connon’s day-to-day work at Bell Ingram sees her help with a variety of land management tasks, including cropping plans, farm and estate management and property letting.

She added: “The range of services and diversity of the firm means that every day is different and exciting.

“In my time at college, there were few other women on my course and I only have one friend who has pursued a similar path to my own.

“Towards the end of the four years, there were more women coming through but they were still far outnumbered by males.

“If I had any advice for a woman considering a career in this sector, it would be to just go for it. Don’t worry about what others might think and be willing to work hard to get to where you want to be.”

Malcolm Taylor, head of land management and partner in charge of the Bell Ingram Forfar office, said: “Daragh has been a very welcome addition to the team in Forfar.

“Her enthusiasm and attitude to her work bodes well for her future and will act as an example to other women looking to develop a career in agriculture and rural land management.”