Public and private sector agricultural advisory services
Continuous improvement and updating of farmers’ and farm workers’ knowledge through public, semi-public or private sector advisory services. Advice is provided individually or in groups, via a range of media or online, usually in collaboration with the schools providing the initial agricultural training or with research and development institutions. In addition to general aspects of crop or animal production equipment, business management and finance, specialist advice is also provided on matters such as fertilisation, crop protection, animal feed and farm machinery. All advisory services cooperate with model farms that run trial fields and animal feed trials, and also with accounting and tax organisations and local technical colleges. Because besides agricultural advice, advice on business administration and accounting also plays an important role for the development of farms, especially with a view to improving access to financial services.
The advisory services improve the transfer of knowledge to the agricultural sector, usually in coordination with public and private sector advisory services, farmer organisations, etc., they may diffuse innovation along the entire value chain and hence boost production levels, secure food supply and improve farmers’ incomes. They may also contribute to safeguarding the natural resource base.
Advisory services must undergo a constant process of renewal in order to incorporate scientific and research results and to translate them into effective practices. Farmers’ interest groups and cooperatives in particular need to create a climate of openness to advice or set up their own advisory services (e.g. advisory boards).
- Definitions of good agricultural practice in respect of soil, water, climate and air, as well as biodiversity
- Clear responsibilities in public authorities
- Close cooperation and knowledge sharing with farmers' organisations
- Farmers need to be willing to closely cooperate with the advisory services
- Good knowledge of good agricultural practices
- Investments in country-wide educational infrastructure in proximity to students
- Quality standards in agricultural advisory services that are in line with the national agricultural policy and definitions of good agricultural practice
- Open-access to all farms, regardless of size and location
- Skilled / specialised personnel to man the respective institutions / provide the respective services
- Training opportunities for advisors that reflect the definitions of good agricultural practices and agricultural policy
Possible Negative Effects
- Lack of practical relevance and too much emphasis on theory
- Lack of acceptance by farmers on account of one-sided advice or state influence
- Farmers have no access to the farm inputs recommended by the standards (e.g. due to a lack of funding instruments)
- Political patronage and corruption resulting in certain farmers or regions being prioritised