EUFRAS General Assembly 2016 took place in Paris, in the premises of APCA on the 3rd and the 4th of March 2016, during the agricultural fair “SIA” (Salon International de l’Agriculture, from the 27th February to the 6th March 2016). The theme of this year`s event was interactive innovation and farm advisory services.
The Assembly was opened by Eric Collin, Head of Department “Farm advisory services”, APCA who gave an overview of the French Chambers of Agriculture and diversity of farming systems in France. The French Chambers of Agriculture are Public bodies led by elected representatives, with two main roles - to represent the farmers, foresters and other rural stakeholders to public authorities at local, regional and national level as well as to provide a wide range of services (training, advice, R&D, support to collective projects, etc.) to farmers, foresters and other rural stakeholders. The full presentation of the French Chambers of Agriculture is available here.
Welcome speech was also given by Tom Kelly, EUFRAS Chairman of the Board who emphasized the importance of EUFRAS networking platform which offers the possibility to learn from each other as there is no one and only best advisory system, but many good examples and better ways how to deliver it.
In the Statutory meeting Edgars Linde, EUFRAS Vice-Chairman of the Board introduced the audience with EUFRAS current profile which is composed by 30 organizations from 22 countries. After an overview about EUFRAS administrative activities for the year 2015 and the Annual report as well as the Audit report, Edgars Linde invited EUFRAS members to suggest the candidates for EUFRAS Board member positions. The following candidates were suggested -Edgars Linde, LRATC; Tom Kelly, TEAGASC; Pablo Asensio, Bavarian State Advisory Service for farmers; Michael Kuegler, VLK; Jussi Juhola, ProAgria; Anton Jagodic, Slonevian Chambers of Agricuture; Ilse Geyskens, Innovation centre for Agricultural and Rural Development; Edvardas Makelis, LAAS and Sylvain Sturel, APCA.
Re-elected EUFRAS Board: From the left Anton Jagodic, Michael Kuegler, Tom Kelly, Edgars Linde, Pablo Asensio, Jussi Juhola, Sylvain Sturel.
After the re-elections, EUFRAS Board is represented by 7 Board Members - Tom Kelly as the Chairman of the Board, Edgars Linde as the Vice Chairman of the Board and a Board member responsible for finance, Pablo Asensio as the Board member, Michael Kuegler as the Board member, Jussi Juhola as the Board member, Anton Jagodic as the Board member and Sylvain Sturel as the Board member.
Retrospective of the IALB Conference 2015 in Solothurn, Switzerland was given by Ulrich Ryser, Director of AGRIDEA and President of IALB. The events was represented by 280 participants from 19 nations and the collaboration between IALB and EUFRAS was very enriching, but with a slight language challenge. Ulrich Ryser also presented the IALB Position Paper «Knowledge Transfer and Advisory Work in Agriculture» which is available for download. IALB would welcome a broad discussion and are looking forward to feedback on the Position Paper.
After the presentation of last year`s conference, EUFRAS Chairman of the Board Tom Kelly introduced the audience with the next EUFRAS Meeting - IALB Conference which will be held in Limerick, Ireland from 19th till 23rd of June. The theme of the event is Innovation Support for a Diverse Agriculture and it will offer rural professionals the opportunity to gain new knowledge, skills and perspectives as well as to experience the green and beautiful surroundings of south-western Ireland. The conference will consist of plenary sessions, excursions taking in farm visits and cultural highlights, and highly interactive workshops. Special emphasis this year will be put on the TEAGASC/EUFRAS/IALB Networking Forum which will be organized as a Poster exhibition featuring:
• Advisory methods research project (based on objective, methods used and impact/results)
• Advisory support tool non ICT (based on uniqueness, innovation support potential etc.)
• Advisory ICT based tool (Database tools, web interphase, apps, how do these add value for advisors)
• Advisor training/ support initiative
EUFRAS Board Member Pablo Asensio introduced the audience with the current CECRA activities as well as with the Timeline of the involvement of EUFRAS in the IALB CECRA System and the tasks of EUFRAS CECRA Working group which are defined in Cooperation and Usage Agreement between IALB and EUFRAS and also in CECRA Guidelines. The implementation and development of CECRA in European regions outside the German speaking areas is monitored by the EUFRAS CECRA Working group, which is composed of representatives of the Regional Certification Agencies. Currently those are five EUFRAS Member organizations – TEAGASC, LRATC, University of Santiago de Compostela, National Agricultural Advisory Service and Lithuanian Agricultural Advisory Service. Find out more in the full presentation.
The initiative for networking of advisory services in South Eastern Europe was presented by Dimitar Vanev from National Agricultural Advisory Service, Bulgaria. After almost two years of preparation, agricultural institutions from Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Kosovo, Macedonia, Slovenia and Serbia successfully founded the South Eastern Europe Advisory Service Network (SEASN). Founding Assembly of the network took place in Bulgarian capital city Sofia at 22nd of October, 2015. SEASN aims to connect and disseminate the information, knowledge and experience in the region as well as strengthen people resources and cooperate in the international projects. Find out more about the setting up of the SEASN network and download the presentation.
An overview about international cooperation and Horizon 2020 calls as well as already on-going projects was given by EUFRAS member of the Board Michael Kuegler. You may inquire out more information in the full presentation. One of the success stories is the EU-project AgriSpin. At the kickoff meeting in April of 2015, AgriSpin officially started the process of hunting down “Space for innovations in Agriculture”. By uncovering the so-called blind spots in innovation projects, AgriSpin’s goal is to contribute to improved methods of innovation in European agriculture. During the conference, Short video sessions were presented about AgriSpin cross-visits. Watch three innovative examples and get inspired:
The organizational set up of the RITA - Agricultural Innovation and Dissemination Networks was presented by ACTA representative Philippe Prigent and whose RITA Guadeloupe example was also selected for the French cross-visit of the AgriSpin program. See the full presentation RITA in outermost regions – link with EAFRD “operational groups”.
The Assembly also provided the opportunity for new EUFRAS members and candidates to present themselves and express their expectations. Innovation center for Agricultural and Rural Development was at the time the newest member of EUFRAS which aims to inform and inspire farmers on new challenges and opportunities as well as to support development and implementation of concrete projects. You can learn more by seing the Innovatiesteunpunt presentation. The purpose of the Estonian Rural Development Foundation (MES) is to support economic development in Estonian rural areas by promoting business activities in rural areas. MES is also a new-comer in EUFRAS network which from the year 2010 till 2014 was responsible for coordination and development of rural advisory services in Estonia and in the July, 2015 started to give advice for the farmers. Learn more about the Estonian Agriculture and Rural Economy Advisory Service in the presentation. The Initiative for Agriculture Development in Kosovo (IADK) is also a new member of EUFRAS - a non-profit, non-governmental organization that was established in 2004 in Mitrovica, Northern Kosovo, as a result of a localization initiative of Lutheran World Federation Balkan Programme. IADK’s mission is to promote socio-economic development of rural areas, to reduce unemployment and create income generating opportunities, to contribute on reducing migration to urban areas, and to support farmers and agricultural activities. Learn more in the presentation.
Following the presentations from new EUFRAS member organizations, Sylvain Sturel from APCA initiated a discussion on the current situation and perspectives of the Chambers of Agriculture in Europe. Currently in 13 European countries consultations and services to farmers are provided by the Chambers of Agriculture, find out more in the presentation.
Open discussion and workshop session was initiated by Leif Raun, EUFRAS Board member from the previous term who presented the results of EUFRAS network survey and marked three important topics for parallel world café sessions. Those were:
- EUFRAS Strategic development;
- EUFRAS objectives and targets for next year;
- Defining a strategy for EUFRAS regarding Horizon 2020 calls.
Pablo Asensio, EUFRAS Board member leading the workshop on EUFRAS objectives and targets for next year.
The evening session of the Assembly was dedicated to discussions about innovations and farm advisory services. The action of French Chambers of Agriculture on fostering innovation for French farmers was presented by APCA representative Aurélien Esposito-Fava. French strategic agenda for agriculture is to combine economic, environmental and social performance on farms by collecting innovative ideas and innovation from the ground, building practical and technical knowledge for farmers and advisers as well as by promoting and disseminating innovation.
European Innovation Partnership (EIP-AGRI) which is a key element of the new European Common Agricultural Policy instrument (bottom-up-principle) and particular example from a European region in Schleswig-Holstein was presented by EUFRAS Board Member Michael Kuegler. Find out more about the setting-up and supporting “operational groups" in the full presentation.