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Details: | Published: 07 June 2021

At the conference, the focus was on the exchange on the topics "Life and agriculture in transition – accompanying change, supporting innovation, strengthening resilience" from an advisory perspective.

KonferenztitelENG OnlineThe networks IALB (International Academy of Rural Advisors), EUFRAS (European Forum for Agricultural and Rural Advisory Services) and SEASN (South Eastern Europe Advisory Service Network) were the organizers of the conference and together with the states of Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, AGRIDEA (Switzerland) and the Vorarlberg Chamber of Agriculture offered an interesting, comprehensive program for advisors, extension workers, education officers and researchers. More than 300 participants from 20 countries were present online.

In their welcoming speeches, the three presidents of the organizations responsible for the conference, Florian Herzog (IALB), Jussi Juhola (EUFRAS) and Igor Hrovatic (SEASN), emphasized the importance of exchange among themselves. Especially in view of the current challenges, not least due to the Corona pandemic, they noted that accompanying farms with innovative advice that quickly adapts to the necessary framework conditions is more important today than ever.

The IALB has now been demonstrating for 60 years that a living network makes a significant contribution to this. In a very interesting and detailed contribution by Wolfram Schöhl, it was shown that the ideas of the founders from 1961 are just as relevant today as they were 60 years ago. Wolfram Schöhl was a member of the board for many years and has been a member of the "IALB family" for over 40 years.

The three keynote speeches by Prof. Dr. Fredmund Malik (Malik Management Institut St. Gallen), Kerstin Rosenow (EU Commission) and Dr. Eelke Wielinga (linkconsult.nl) impressively demonstrated that the right networking of competencies, innovations and resilient behavior will become increasingly important in the future. The complexity in advising farmers is increasing and the use of networks is becoming more and more important. Not to be neglected here are the relationships between people. This requires the right methods and formats to convey knowledge, because this is how new things can be created.

The most important messages of the keynote speakers are:

- To create structures to promote self-regulation and adaptability of organizations and divisions.

- Increased work on measures for consulting and operations management with regard to sustainability.

- In the future, advisors will have to serve different functions to an even greater extent, making their targeted interaction all more important. 

- Promote training and advisory education and thereby increase knowledge that is ready for application.

- It is all about people in networks and satisfying life in networks.

In 14 workshops, 5 online excursions around Lake Constance and in the poster session, best practice examples of professional support in the form of consulting, educational offers and innovation projects were presented.

With new social media methods and a constantly open virtual conference café, the exchange among colleagues from consulting, education and research in agriculture and rural areas could be cultivated extensively, as in previous years.

Anton Stöckli, Vice-President of the IALB, dared to look into the future at the end of the conference. As was the case 60 years ago, society today also faces the challenge of managing technological change. Artificial intelligence and digitalization will challenge agriculture and thus also the role of consulting in the future, but also promote it. By thinking outside the box, finding creative and innovative solutions, further expanding the existing network and, above all, putting people at the center of everything we do, we will be able to meet the challenges of the future.

As part of the topic “Looking into the future”, also forming network of young advisors YEUFRAS was presented in attempt to develop and strengthen capacities of youth in agriculture, promote networking, address common challenges faced by young advisors and share their experiences. Participants also got the chance to learn from the experience of YPARD which is already well established international movement by and for Young Professionals for Agricultural Development. It was agreed that there is a lot of space for future collaboration and synergies between YPARD and the young EUFRAS network of active advisors.

In conclusion, the three presidents Florian Herzog (IALB), Jussi Juhola (EUFRAS) and Igor Hrovatic (SEASN) thanked the organizing team for the excellent planning and execution of the conference and are already looking forward to a hopefully personal reunion in June 2022 in Lugo, Spain.

More information available on the conference website https://eveeno.com/ialb-conference2021 and please see the recordings/presentations at https://www.ialb.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=136 

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