Agroecology and the role of an advisor

Structure : Vlaamse Landmaatschappij
Target group : Advisors
Duration : 3 x half day
Preamble : The modernisation of the agricultural system and the food system has, on the one hand, resulted in sufficient food being produced for a low price. On the other hand, this process has been accompanied by many negative side-effects for the environment, for people in general and, specifically, for the farmer. Today a lot of research is devoted to developing technologies and practices that make better use of external resources (resource efficiency). Agroecological innovation is, on the other hand, devoted to reducing the dependence of the agricultural system and the food system on external resources, by means of the (re)integration of natural and social processes — an ecological systems approach. Agroecology states therefore very clearly that ecological and socio-economic problems are linked and that there must be a joint approach. This approach, however, means that the farmer must acquire different competencies and knowledge .

In order promote the development of a more sustainable agricultural system in Flanders; the Vlaamse Landmaatschappij (Flemish Land Agency) (VLM) engages advisors who assist the farmer in managing his farming operation in a sustainable manner. This support concerns giving advice on agro-environmental measures, creating a healthy soil structure and soil fertility, the use of manure, and information on current legislation.
Due to their close contact with the farmer, advisors can play an important role in the dissemination of agroecological knowledge and practical experience. In order exercise this role optimally, the advisors must first acquire certain knowledge and must develop the required competencies. The training courses described below are intended to contribute to this.
Principles of action : In this module the role that could be played by the advisor in disseminating knowledge and practical experience of agroecological farmers is examined in greater detail.
On the one hand a “self-reflection moment” is organised in the form of a questionnaire to be filled in by the [?farmers?advisors] individually. They are asked questions about how they give advice to farmers. This questionnaire is anonymous so that advisors can give honest answers and can examine carefully their own attitude and actions when they visit the farmers.
On the other hand there is a group discussion on the overall results of the questionnaire. The issue is taken one step further and the advisor is asked how he thinks he can disseminate the agroecological knowledge of the farmer that he perceives and what tools, methods or events would be necessary to achieve this.
Phases in the training pathway : - Individual questions concerning the working methods, attitude and behaviour of an advisor. Participants complete a questionnaire individually and anonymously.
- After the question session, there is a general discussion of the anonymous results.
- There is further consideration of the role of the advisor and what he could do, and concerning what knowledge and competencies he should have at his disposal, and the attitude he should adopt
Speakers : Bavo Verwimp, Sylvie Fosselle

Location of the training session

Adress : Koningin Maria Hendrikaplein 70
Post code : 9000
City : Gent
Country : Belgium