EUFRAS General Assebly 2017 took place from 22nd till 23rd of February during the 26th edition of the Inernational Agricultural Exhibition AGRA in Plovdid, Bulgaria which was the largest platform of agribusiness in South Eastern Europe. The assebly was hosted by Bulgarian National Agricultural Advisory Service (NAAS). 

The Assembly was opened by Executive Director of NAAS Lyubomir Marinov who gave an overview of the National Agricultural Advisory Service and diversity of the farming systems in Bulgaria. The National Agricultural Advisory Service conducts its business within the state agrarian policy, providing farmers current information, specialized counseling, and provide expert assistance for the implementation of efficient and competitive agriculture in accordance with approved European Union standards. Welcome speech was also given by Tom Kelly, EUFRAS Chairman of the Board who emphasized the importance of EUFRAS networking platform which offers the possibility to learn from each other as there is no one and only best advisory system, but many good examples and better ways how to deliver it. 

In the Statutory meeting Edgars Linde, EUFRAS Vice-Chairman of the Board introduced the audience with EUFRAS current profile which is composed by 33 organizations from 24 countries. Also an overview about EUFRAS administrative activities for the year 2016, the Annual report as well as the Audit report were presented and discussed.


Lively discussions at the Statutory meeting

As it has been each year, the Assembly provided the opportunity for new EUFRAS members and candidates to present themselves and express their expectations. The National Council of Agricultural Chambers from Poland was at the time the newest member of EUFRAS which aims to solve problems of agriculture and represent interests of associated members. The agricultural chambers influence shape of the agriclutural policy and participate in its execution. You can learn more by seing the National Council of Agricultural Chambers from Poland presentation. As a potential new member Austrian Chamber of Agriculture (Landwirtschaftskammer Österreich) gave an insight in their organizational structure and tasks as well as presented the expectations from the cooperation in EUFRAS network. Learn more in the presentation.

As it has been done already in the previous years, also this year EUFRAS conducted a survey of its members to inquire the overall opinion and a strategic directions for the further development of the network. EUFRAS Vice-Chairman of the Board Edgars Linde shortly gave an overview about the summarized responses and initiated a discussion on these matters. Learn more from the presentation!

IALB Position Paper “Knowledge Transfer and Advisory Work in Agriculture” was presented by Florian Herzog representing IALB and Austrian Chamber of Agriculture. The transfer of knowledge through education and advisory work, as well as horizontal networking of stakeholders improve the competitiveness and adaptability of the sector. Read the full version here! 


PabloEUFRAS Board member Pablo Asensio acquainted the audience with the EUFRAS CECRA Train the Trainer course 2017/2018. From 16 to 20 January 2017, 13 participants from Croatia, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Latvia, Serbia, Slovenia and Spain met in Baden-Württemberg to train CECRA-Trainer skills in an actively lived European cooperation. A waiting list for a potential follow up TTT starting in 2018 has been opened. The one-year TTT Qualification Program started with its first week of training in January 2017. Two more training weeks follow in May 2017 and January 2018. Between these face-to-face training blocks, the participants work on assignments in self-organized learning groups.

Results from the AgriSPin-CECRA Workshop “Development of a CECRA Module Innovation brokerage” were also presented by Pablo Asensio. The workshop was organized as a side event on 22nd of February at the Sofia Best Western Expo Hotel. See the photoprotocol!


Participants at the AgriSpin-CECRA Workshop discuss innovation brokerage methods proposed by Dr. Eelke Wielinga

Under the topic Examples of tools/services offered to EUFRAS members, Teagasc ConnectEd Programme Manager Mark Gibson presented the genesis and features of ConnectEd Programme that has been designed to extend Teagasc’s research and knowledge transfer programmes to professionals and businesses operating within or supporting the Irish agri-food sector. EUFRAS Chairman of the Board Tom Kelly presented another TEAGASC tool CIMS (Client management and information system) – CRM / CBM a project to update/replace the system that manages and records client interactions, service use and payments. Some collaboration ideas between EUFRAS members were presented by EUFRAS Board member Sylvain Sturel who invited EUFRAS members to take part in APCA`s organized technical info days, special events and existing training sessions for advisers. See the presentation.        

Regional Facilitator of Central Asia and the Caucasus Forum for Rural Advisory Services (CAC-FRAS) Botir Dosov presented the opportunities of macro regional cooperation under an umbrella of GFRAS and proposed joint and coordinated efforts in common areas for EUFRAS and CAC-FRAS networks. Find out more!

Following this presentation, EUFRAS Chairman of the Board Tom Kelly shortly presented the 5th EUFRAS Meeting - 55th IALB Conference that took place from 19th till 23rd of June in the University of Limerick, Ireland. Also the invitation to the 6th EUFRAS Meeting - 66th IALB Conference was presented to EUFRAS membership.

EUFRAS Board members Michael Kuegler and Sylvain Sturel presented the overview of EUFRAS involvement in Horizon 2020 calls and projects. Find out more! One of the on-going project is FERTINNOWA which aims to create a meta-knowledge database of innovative technologies and practices for the fertigation of horticultural crops. FERTINNOWA will also build a knowledge exchange platform to evaluate existing and novel technologies (innovation potential, synergies, gaps, barriers) for fertigated crops and ensure wide dissemination to all stakeholders involved of the most promising technologies and best practices. See the presentation of Els Berckmoes and Veronika Valentar and find out more!

Following EUFRAS General Assembly, the international conference „Training of advisors and innovation brokerage for efficient agriculture“ was organized on 23rd of February by Bulgarian National Agricultural Advisory Service (Ministry Of Agriculture and Forestry) in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. 



AgriSpin Cross Visits Discovery Journey was presented by Eelke Wielinga who shared the project outcomes and initiated a discussion for the panel session on the role of Advisory service networks for innovation support.

Approaches and models used by NAAS for training of advisors and farmers were presented by Dimitar Vanev, Director of General Directorate “Agricultural Advices and Analytical Laboratory”, NAAS.

E-learning of agricultural advisors - used by Institute for Science Application in Agriculture, Serbia was presented by Sladjan Stankovic who introduced the audience with the distance learning in the education program for advisors in Serbia and the training activities in the past years.

Two parallel panel sessions followed the presentations. One of them was facilitated by Dimitar Vanev (General Director of General Directorate “Agricultural Advisory and Analytical Laboratory“, NAAS) who discussed the Appropriate approaches and models for training of advisors. 


Discussion on role of the advisory service networks for innovation support (on the base of EUFRAS and AgriSpin activities results) were facilitated Pablo Asensio (EUFRAS Board member) and Eelke Wielinga (AgriSpin). Get an insight by seeing the photo protocol!