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Researchers and farmers discuss future of European agriculture

Rural innovation network in Germany (courtesy PRO AKIS project)
“This is a unique exercise of its kind, with a particularly interesting inventory and analysis of advisory services. It has informed the launch of the European Innovation Partnership on Agriculture Productivity and Sustainability

In times of changing political conditions and increasing pressure from markets and citizens, innovation is more important than ever for farmers throughout Europe. This is precisely the focus of a group of social scientists who have for the past three years researched European farmers’ access to knowledge, advice and support services, and whose findings will be presented to stakeholders next week at a conference in Brussels.

After completing a country-by-country inventory of the people that provide information and support to European farmers, such as agricultural research institutes and universities, advisory services, cooperatives, supply services and farmers’ organisations, researchers from the PRO AKIS – ‘Prospects for Farmers’ Support: Advisory Services in the European Agricultural Knowledge and Information Systems’ – project will also highlight policy recommendations and the use of the project outputs.

Professor Andrea Knierim, project coordinator at the University of Hohenheim, Germany, said: “PRO AKIS carried out the first systematic overview of the agricultural advisory services in Europe which are characterised by a surprising amount of institutional diversity. Through this overview we hope we have created a good basis for reliable monitoring and evaluation of these systems across the EU member states in the future.”

Inge van Oost, from the European Commission’s Directorate General Agriculture and Rural Development, commented: “This is a unique exercise of its kind, with a particularly interesting inventory and analysis of advisory services. It has informed the launch of the European Innovation Partnership on Agriculture Productivity and Sustainability.”

Using selected case studies, PRO AKIS investigated specific knowledge systems through comparative analysis and assessments revealing successes, strengths and weaknesses. These case studies covered three topical areas: small scale farming, bridging research and practice, and rural innovation networks.

In Scotland, for instance, the Monitor Farm programme was studied as an example of a peer-to-peer knowledge exchange network, which was considered to be an important source of new ideas and information for the participating farmers. Across the case studies, it was found that small-scale farmers rely on informal knowledge sources and therefore need individually tailored and locally available advisory services, while large scale farmers are capable of accessing formal knowledge from consultants and scientists. There was also evidence that agricultural innovation networks can complement the existing advisory infrastructure, but cannot replace it where there has been public disinvestment.

The project is led by the University of Hohenheim (Germany) and besides the James Hutton Institute (Scotland, UK), project partners include the Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (Germany), the National Institute for Agricultural Research (France), University of Tras-os-Montes and Alto Douro (Portugal), the University of Agriculture in Krakow (Poland), Agricultural University Plovdiv (Bulgaria), and the Knowledge Centre for Agriculture (Denmark).

Notes to editors:

The final conference of the PRO AKIS project will be held at the University Foundation, Egmontstraat 11, rue d’Egmont - 1000 Brussels on 19th and 20th May 2015.

About the PRO AKIS project: Farmers throughout Europe are facing changing political conditions and a strong pressure from markets and citizens to adjust and to innovate. They need timely access to knowledge and information, to training and education and to facilitating and support services. PRO AKIS is a European Commission-funded research and action project that investigates agricultural advisory services within the context of Agricultural Knowledge and Information Systems (AKIS). The project aims to answer the question: How and from what sources can farmers get reliable and relevant knowledge, orientation and support to continuously evolve, to successfully solve problems and to respond to external expectations and development opportunities?

For more information on the project including the complete inventory of case studies and individual country reports, AKIS posters and a searchable database and colour-coded maps, please visit the project website. A directory has also been compiled which contains information on many of the agricultural advisory organisations within the EU member states. This directory has now been passed on to the Service Points of the European Innovation Partnership on Agriculture, where it will be maintained, and new advisory services can input their details for inclusion in the directory.

More information from: 

Bernardo Rodriguez-Salcedo, Media Manager, Tel: +44 (0)1224 395089 (direct line), +44 (0)344 928 5428 (switchboard) or +44 (0)7791 193918 (mobile).


Printed from /news/researchers-and-farmers-discuss-future-european-agriculture on 21/08/19 10:16:43 AM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.