Prospects for Farmers’ Support: Advisory Services in European Agriculture Knowledge and Information System
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?
Agricultural knowledge & information systems (AKIS) describe the exchange of knowledge and supporting services between many diverse actors from the first, second or third sector in rural areas. AKIS provide farmers with relevant knowledge and networks around innovations in agriculture. Advisory services are one essential means to enhance problem solving, information sharing and innovation generating processes.
Inventory of the AKIS institutions & interactions in the EU-27 as a searchable database
The project has completed a country-by-country inventory of organisations and individual actors in the field, including basic and applied agricultural research institutes and universities, advisory services, and other actors influencing research priorities and practical decision making on farms, such as cooperatives, supply services, and farmers’ organisations.
The inventory consists of a report and a summary poster per country, covering the 27 member states of the EU. Reports follow the same structure to aid comparison between countries. They cover key actors in each country, as well as history, providers, policy, methods, topics and clients of advisory services.
ProAgria taking actively part in the EU-wide PRO AKIS- project
According to the new ProAgria Strategy 2020 – international affairs and projects will receive more weight in the future. Taking part in the EU-wide PRO AKIS project was a good start in the future development process, both in networking as well as learning about other EU countries agricultural advising processes.
The Finnish country report was made by Danuta Lehto, Development Manager at Association of ProAgria Services. The data and information provided in the country report is based on national websites, a conducted survey and semi-structured interviews with national experts on the Finnish AKIS. The country report has been written with a neutral perspective, even though the subcontractor is working at the ProAgria Group. The quality and comprehensiveness of the information provided is this way valid.
PROAKIS highlights the great diversity of agricultural knowledge resources and advisory systems that exist in Europe.
Dr Katrin Prager, project co-ordinator at the James Hutton Institute who is responsible for UK and Ireland data, said: “The project is contributing to building a European agricultural innovation system and supports better informed policy decisions to improve the functioning of the different components at European, national and regional levels.
Dr Talis Tisenkopfs, professor at the Department of Sociology of the University of Latvia and PRO AKIS advisory board member, commented: “I am sure these reports will be a source of valuable information, innovation aspiration and mutual learning, and underpin new collaborative practices among various actors interested in promoting rural innovations.”
For more information on the project including the complete inventory, case studies and country reports, visit the project website at www.proakis.eu.