European farmers need topical knowledge, training and support to remain competitive and respond to manifold demands in a continuously evolving environment. Functioning agricultural knowledge and information systems (AKIS) are needed to tackle challenges like (i) giving small-scale farmers access to relevant and reliable knowledge, (ii) bridging scientific research topics and farmers’ demands and (iii) offering appropriate support for diverse rural actors that form networks around innovations in agriculture and rural areas. Advisory services are one essential means to enhance problem solving, information sharing and innovation generating processes. In a functioning AKIS these services can be provided by various actors, among them formal extension services, training and post-secondary education bodies, NGOs but also by members of administration or research institutions. PRO AKIS will thoroughly review international literature sources on AKIS and provide an inventory of the AKIS institutions and interactions in the EU-27. Furthermore, PRO AKIS will highlight the mentioned challenges through a selection of case studies that are conducted for each topic in parallel in several member states. Comparative analyses and assessments of these cases will reveal successes, strengths and weaknesses of the specific knowledge flow systems. AKIS stakeholders and policy advisors will accompany PRO AKIS, share interim findings, and participate in workshops and seminars. They will be invited to intervene repeatedly in the project’s course and to contribute through feedbacks and in assessments of results. On these bases policy recommendations for the strengthening of European agricultural innovation systems will be developed and further research needs will be designated. A range of dissemination activities will assure that findings are timely available for the interested communities and for the public at large.
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