Focus on agricultural advisory services

| About Us |

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.

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Knowledge helps understand modern agriculture

| Polish Market |

We do not follow the changes of global trends in order to balance the food market on various continents, but in order to manage the development of our business in the appropriate manner. It is necessary to react to market changes in an adequate way, to be able to adjust to them, or even create them.

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Competences Center – delivering benefits

| About Us |

Grupa Azoty “PUŁAWY” has been considering its strategy for a few years: What ought to be updated, in order to find a new momentum for our work. Proper identification of target groups proved the most useful in shaping this new strategy.

Seeking the target group

Naturally, agricultural manufacturers are the main group which purchases the products of a fertilizer company such as Grupa Azoty “PUŁAWY”. There are other stakeholders to consider, however: distributors, intermediaries, agricultural advisers. The farmer is always the end user, though, and this is why we decided to focus on the rural environment, to witness the current developments and trends in the countryside.

Mission: “Delivering benefits”

In this way, the essence of “PUŁAWY” activity has taken shape. It is not sufficient to provide high quality fertilizers. An equally important task is to provide knowledge about those fertilizers, as well as about the place and method of their application. To this end we decided to establish “PUŁAWY” Competences Center, a consortium whose members include our Works, R&D institutions and agricultural associations. The Center joins the potentials of business and science, so as to achieve synergistic effects. The initiative has brought tangible benefits already: the three “Science –  Business – Agriculture” Conferences organized so far, and the postgraduate course for agricultural counselors. We have also launched “AZOMAIS”, a project aiming at creating a “maize package” including manuals of cultivation, the specialist fertilizers and a combine drill. The project is co-financed by the National Center for Research and Development.

The need for knowledge

As recently as in 2010, 82% of Polish farmers took decisions concerning their farms following only their own judgment and experience. The proportion has fallen to 39% today, with more and more people ready to make use of professional agricultural counseling. The niche has remained underdeveloped, but “PUŁAWY” Competences Center is aiming at filling this gap. The institution is also breaking down the barriers between the worlds of business, science and farming, which is confirmed by the impressive attendance rate at our conferences. Hundreds of participants wish to listen to interesting lectures about farming and learn about the offer of companies which produce goods for farms. The Polish countryside is evolving, and it requires modern solutions. Competences Center was established to provide them.

Based on a presentation during a breakfast time press briefing organized by Grupa Azoty “PUŁAWY” on November 20th, 2013.

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First edition of postgraduate courses for agricultural consultants has been completed

| CSR |

On September 28th, 2013 an official graduation ceremony was held at Agriculture and Biology Department of Warsaw University of Life Sciences. The meeting marked the end of the 1st edition of Postgraduate Course for Agricultural Consultants: Fertilizer and pesticide trade in sustainable farming systems. The course was co-organized by Grupa Azoty Zakłady Azotowe “PUŁAWY” within the activity of PUŁAWY Competences Center.

The highest quality of education

The project aims at preparing specialists in the most modern technology of integrated plant cultivation and in fertilizer and pesticide trade. Consequently, the channel of distribution of chemical products for agricultural purposes was merged with a counseling system regarding their efficient and safe application.

The syllabus included a total of 220 hours of lectures and workshops. Employees of distribution companies gained up-to-date knowledge concerning the properties of fertilizers and pesticides, their influence on the natural environment and practical skills useful in the professional work of a counselor.

Knowledge is the foundation of success

The course also included a program of training about integrated production of plants, as well as training about pesticide counseling. The participants mastered modern methods of advising on the best choice of fertilizers and pesticides. The students acquired IT skills useful in fertilizers and pesticides selection, implementing a fertilization plan, and calculating the profitability of using fertilizers by various brands. Another element of the course involved developing social competences and communication skills useful in contacts with agricultural producers.

32 graduates completed the course. Each participant received a graduation diploma issued by Warsaw University of Life Sciences and two certificates which entitle to trade, package and apply pesticides meant for professional use.

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Agricultural counseling in Poland. How to boost farming efficiency?

| Rynek polski |

According to scientific research, the importance of cooperation in the “fertilizer producers – distributors – agricultural representatives – farmers” chain is on the increase.

Professional farming educators wanted

“PUŁAWY” is among institutions which support the idea that each end-user of our products ought to be supported by a few farming representatives, as well as by advisers specializing in agricultural technology. The strategy of providing farmers with knowledge is an element of business model proven to provide benefits to either side of the process.

Farmers seek information

Whenever I participated in Dni Pola event (Farming Days), I saw agricultural technicians providing farmers with advice and know-how. Farmers attend Dni Pola eagerly and there starts the process of establishing a network of information flow between market participants. This was why “PUŁAWY” and Warsaw University of Life Sciences have launched postgraduate courses for agricultural consultants, in order to increase the knowledge of those professionals. The first exam session has finished recently and 33 graduates received diplomas and certificates of plant protection expertise.

Towards optimized fertilization

As a fertilizer manufacturer, “PUŁAWY” is keen on fostering the education of agricultural consultants. We are intent on following this direction. We are interested in implementing and running the best agricultural practices, so as to make fertilizer use as efficient as possible. It is not about using the largest quantity of fertilizers, but about using them in the best manner possible. We are keen on reducing nitrogen loss during fertilizer application procedures and we are hopeful that in 10 years’ perspective nitrogen use will grow considerably.

Education first

Specialist knowledge about fertilization should be provided to farming entrepreneurs depending on their needs and expectations. Basing on research, experts stress the fact that in while in 2010 as many as 72% farmers took decision concerning fertilization following only their own judgment, in 2012, 35% farmers already took into consideration opinions of their friends and acquaintances! The fertilizer-chemical companies believe that we need to become a part of this trusted circle. A Polish farmer today is a dynamic, hard-working young person, open to the world and to education. All we need is to provide knowledge in an accessible way. Consequently, it is vital to reach the farmers with essential information, using the distributors and their agricultural representatives.

Building mutual trust

Another tool adopted by “PUŁAWY” is organizing and participating in conferences and symposiums. Postgraduate courses and the activity of “PUŁAWY” Competences Center aim at educating farming managers, who will next pass the knowledge on to farmers. As a result, we foster trust between the manufacturer, the agricultural consultant and the farmer.

Based on a talk by Zenon Pokojski Ph.D. at IFMA 19 Congress in Warsaw – July 26th 2013.

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