Start-up and existing small land-based businesses in Caerphilly and Blaenau Gwent looking to diversify and get new income can get free expert advice under a newly-launched scheme.

Agora is a two-year project to help producers of goods grown, grazed or made.

Any kind of land-based business – whether a producer of food or drink, or items such as wood or wool is eligible to apply to join the scheme.

The scheme, which aims to help 240 individuals or businesses over the next five years, which also covers ten other counties in mid and south east Wales. Four rural business specialists have been recruited to staff it.

Successful applicants will get five hours of one-to-one support from experts in starting income streams; a chance to meet and learn from mentors that have already diversified; and to attend meet the buyer events.

Owners of rural businesses that have already benefited from support programmes including Cywain and Farming Connect will be among the mentors offering help to Agora participants.

It is also available in Powys, Merthyr Tydfil, Bridgend, Torfaen, Monmouthshire, Neath Port Talbot, Vale of Glamorgan, Rhondda Cynon Taf and Newport.

Agora project manager, Rolant Tomos, who previously started and ran his own rural microbrewery, said: “We can help to develop a new product, scale up existing production, start direct selling, supplying regular contracts, working to improve distribution, or on business skills such as marketing as well as pointing the business in the right direction.

“If you or someone you know needs assistance to develop a business idea or to get the business on the right path, then get in touch.”

Everyone who signs up will also have access to information on demand for locally-grown products, locally-made brands and quality marks in Wales.

The project is being run by Menter a Busnes, an independent economic development company.