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Socio-Technical Scenarios as a Tool to Improve Farm Advisory Services

This article examines the use of the socio-technical scenarios (STSc) method to explore the future needs of farmers in the adoption of more sustainable farming practices. It also examines the changes needed for advisory services to meet those identified needs. It presents the results from four STSc workshops organised as part of the H2020 AgriLink project. Workshop participants (farmers, advisors, policymakers, researchers), jointly explored future changes towards more sustainable agricultural systems paying special attention to the role of advisory services in these transitions. Despite the diversity of national contexts, common results emerged concerning both the shortcomings of the current advisory systems and directions for improvement. Participants agreed that advising on single aspects would not achieve the required systemic changes; these would require more integrated advisory systems at different levels (improved cooperation and knowledge flow), supported by more consistent policies. We indeed identified discrepancies between policy expectations and the broader innovation context. Policies should facilitate the role of advisors in supporting farmers to adopt sustainable innovations, but more often they also create barriers for such innovations. Participants’ concrete recommendations for more farmer-centered advisory services illustrate the usefulness of the STSc to explore potential solutions to key problems in contemporary farm advisory systems.

Leloup, H., Bulten, E., Elzen, B., Pražan, J., Zarokosta, E.

EuroChoices, 1/2022, p. 32-39, ISSN 1478-0917