Activities shall aim at networking advisors for learning and exchanging interactive innovation techniques that support the transition to a more productive, sustainable and climate-smart agriculture and a higher level of development in rural areas. Projects shall identify and showcase best practices from a broad series of practical cases of advisory services across the EU, with a view to support advisors on how to capture grass-roots innovative ideas from farmers and foresters and further develop them into innovation projects. The activities shall create peer-to-peer learning for active and future advisors as well as training opportunities, e.g. through exchanges and cross-visits abroad. They shall help advisors to acquire the skills for managing and participating in interactive innovation projects and how to intermediate in farmer-to-farmer learning processes. Proposals must expand and update the inventory of advisors in the EU by the PRO-AKIS project, with a particular focus on including all private and public advisors and ensuring an EU wide coverage. Based on this, projects shall collect best practices for well-organised, well-connected and effective advisory services supporting innovation and facilitating complementary partners to work together in innovative projects. Proposers are encouraged to establish links between their activities and existing activities, services and networks, such as those related to the farm demonstration networks, research organisations etc. and seek synergies with national or regional EIP networks and EIP Operational Groups. Projects should provide input to and coordinate their strategy with the SCAR-AKIS Strategic Working Group. Special attention should be given to the CEE countries where knowledge sharing attitudes and interconnectivity within the AKISs are still limited.
In order to achieve the objectives of the call, projects should have a minimum duration of four years and shall fall under the concept of the multi-actor approach[[See definition of the 'multi-actor approach' in the introduction to this Work Programme part.]]. To network all public and private advisors across the EU, consortia shall include as many key actors – private and public – with practical advisory experience as possible within the EU. They should be engaged in a broad range of technical advisory subjects for a more sustainable and competitive agriculture and forestry.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of up to EUR 5 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude the submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
Despite the continued generation of scientific knowledge, its impact and application in practical farming and forestry is disappointing and its innovative impact poor. Although there are some good examples, the EIP-AGRI evaluation study recommends that more advisors need to be involved in interactive innovation[[For the interactive innovation model, see the introduction to this Work Programme.]] projects to fuel cross-fertilisation and implementation of results. Advisors indeed have clear impact on farmers' and foresters' decisions and should play a key role in linking science and practice. Whereas the term ‘advice’ until recently merely referred to a given recommendation in the context of linear knowledge ‘transfer’, advisors should now also develop the skills to be able to take on a more interactive role in projects. These new forms of interaction and 'knowledge exchange' among advisors, farmers, private forest owners, scientists and other actors are unfamiliar to most. There is a need to network advisors to promote this approach and to boost advisors' innovation potential in order to ultimately improve knowledge flows in national and regional agricultural knowledge and innovation systems (AKISs).
Activities shall contribute to better interconnected advisors with a focus on innovation at national/regional level, able to support EIP-AGRI Operational Groups and Horizon 2020 multi-actor projects, by:
- improving networking and peer-to-peer learning of advisors, stimulating the interactive role of advisors to boost innovation and providing a set of best practices for advisors, thereby building an advisory network covering the EU in a balanced and comprehensive way;
- enhancing the impact of advisors on the strengthening of knowledge flows between research and practical implementation for more productive and sustainable agricultural practices and rural development;
- improving education by developing efficient material and dedicated training systems for advisors that help to preserve practical knowledge in the long-term, and by delivering a substantial number of “practice abstracts” in the common EIP-AGRI format, including audio-visual material.