Reflecting on FAIRshare’s Final Conference: Shaping the Future of Agriculture

The FAIRshare Final Conference, held on October 2nd and 3rd, 2023, in Thessaloniki, Greece, brought together stakeholders to discuss the project’s achievements and the future of agriculture in the EU. Over 80 attendees participated, engaging in sessions that highlighted the role of digitalization in advisory services, showcased User Cases, and outlined policy recommendations.

Key sessions included presentations on digitalization challenges, User Case experiences, and policy guidelines. The event emphasized the importance of creating Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation Systems, promoting data sharing, and enhancing connectivity in rural areas.

The conference concluded with a call to action for policymakers to support digitalization efforts in agriculture. FAIRshare’s Final Conference was a testament to collaborative efforts and a milestone in shaping a sustainable and competitive agricultural future for Europe.

Key results for the different sessions are availabe in the table below:

Monday, 2nd October 2023   
Session  Key Takeaways 
Policy brief    
The Permanent Network Facility – what is it and its value to advisors   1) Participants were very interested in the continuation of the DATS Inventory
2) We can use the API to facilitate the DATS Inventory to transfer easily to other systems
3) Define specific action plan of how we sustain the Inventory for the next years, update, maintenance, etc. 
What we learned about digitalization challenges and opportunities   1) All countries in Europe have the same challenges regarding digitalization in agriculture
2) We know how to overcome them, but we have to make a big effort to do so
3) The DATS inventory could be really helpful and thes same for as the training inventory 
Advisors experience in facing a digitalization challenge / opportunity  Two user case leaders:
1) See a clear opportunity for DATS to lead to smarter decisions in the extension world.
2) Find that farmers love new technologies. This is true for early adopters.
3) Emphasize the need to build trust and share the impact of DATS and the skills by means of storytelling on a peer-to-peer basis to reach all farmers.
4) Question whether there will be less work for extension services if farmers use DATS.
5) Emphasize the need to address these application areas: AI and Blockchain are here to stay. 

 

Tuesday, 3rd October 2023   
Session  Key Takeaways 
User Case model   1) UCs energized advisors to be more proactive in the use of DATS by providing them with access, training and the motivation to fully support the increased involvement of farmers in digital tech. and services 

2) Great value of peer-to-peer learning and exchange  

3) Demonstrating a clear benefit from using DATS and providing a positive experience, C22is more likely to encourage the use of digital tools. 

Digitalization: Strategic planning and road mapping process  1) insight in ‘the road to take’ for the enhanced use of digital farm advisory tools  

2) Supporting actions and materials (trainings on how to organize workshops, with supporting tools and templates, guidelines, frameworks, daily support) were very helpful for the UC-leaders to get the right focus  

3) Training materials will remain available 

The User Cases experience, the importance of training and cross visits  1)Interaction in training and cross visits was essential for good progress in the use cases  

2)To create interaction, specific programme with adult learning was developed  

3) Virtual cross visits were a strong new tool to create effective interaction 

Multiplier effect and communication with a wider audience  1) Communication and dissemination of the main outcomes of the FAIRshare project were assertive and effective, reaching advisors from all over Europe, farmers, researchers, and policy makers
2) UCs are a nice way of disseminating the project, even after it’s end 3) Materials such as short videos and infographics were very popular with the intended target groups. Dynamics developed on social networks (e.g., FAIRshare sessions on Twitter) had a wide reach. Synergies with other European projects and networks were also essential
4) The multiplier effect only multiplies if we start – It’s now up to us to continue disseminating the results 
Interactive session: The future of the project outcomes  1) All UC’s convinced of benefits,  

2) Some bottlenecks to face, delays in implementation, but suggestions to overcome  

3) The end of the project is not the end of adaptation/adoption of DATS  

4) UCs are ready for testing, validating, optimizing, and upscaling the use of DATs 

Discussion with two advisors of added value and learnings from their experience with DATS   Two advisors working in two user cases: 

1) Found the role of their DATS in the consultation remarkable. In the case of ZLTO, the DATS led to a clear insight at local level. In the case of Teagasc, their DATS was initially perceived cautiously by the extension workers. When she realized that this tool allows more interaction with farmers on the ground and leads to less office work, the advisor was enthusiastic.  

2) They mentioned the need for sharing expertise among peers to facilitate adoption. It was mentioned that peer-to-peer learning among advisors played an important role in overcoming the initial phase of feeling lost with the new tool.  

FAIRshare policy guidelines: challenges, recommendations and expected impact  FAIRshare aims to turn the policy into an opportunity to make EU agriculture smarter and greener. In this sense, policy makers are called to promote:  

1) Create AKIS where advisors support and encourage farmers to make use of digital opportunities in their farm. 

2) Encouraging farmers to share their data on secure platforms and allow data sharing with consent. 

3) Supporting development of standards in the field of interoperability and agricultural data sharing. 

4) Increasing advanced connectivity infrastructure in rural areas.