Focus on agricultural advisory services
On September 23rd 2014 I participated in a conference called Agricultural counseling services in Poland since 2014 – competences, organization, financing organized by the two chambers of the Polish Parliament. The meeting provided an opportunity for sharing our experience from the functioning of “Puławy” Competences Center.
At present, the agricultural advisory services in Poland are provided by state and private institutions as well as NGO’s. However, the diversity of organizational forms does not necessarily mean that such activity is effective. In my opinion, effectiveness of the statutory activity ought to be the primary criterion for such entities. Effectiveness means tangible actions taken to improve the competitive edge of particular farms.
Why have I come to this conclusion? My observation of agricultural counseling centers has proven that for the majority of such institutions, assisting farmers with filling out documents appears to be the only scope of activity! I therefore propose that the advisers be judged based on the results of their work, both positive and in need of improvement. Unfortunately, lack of competition, which is inherent in the system, has contributed to low quality of services provided.
Currently, 80% of Polish farms have internet access. Since the countryside has moved online already, the opportunity ought to be taken advantage of! EU experts believe that what European farmers need the most is know-how, which will allow them to make better use of their potential. The Internet plays a major role here, providing quick access to a large group of users who need specialist knowledge. It is for this reason that Grupa Azoty PUŁAWY implemented an e-commerce platform, which is not only useful for the sale of our products, but first and foremost provides information about the choice of fertilizers and their application methods.
Creating added value
What Grupa Azoty PUŁAWY is keen on is not only the manufacturing of good quality fertilizers, but also providing activities which will educate the farmers about responsible use of those products. One of the institutions which were founded for this reason was “Puławy” Competences Center, which supports the process of educating agricultural counselors at a specialist post-graduate course. The course participants include mainly the staff of companies which distribute fertilizers and pesticides. This year twice as many candidates as last year volunteered to join the course! This serves as a proof that the transfer of knowledge, which is the foundation of innovation, is of primary importance in the contemporary economy, including agriculture.