The national agriculture research and extension systems (NARES) in the countries with transition economies in Europe and Central Asia are facing considerable challenges and opportunities, mostly related to the exclusive funding of a very limited pool of public sources; on-going reforms and restructuring processes; weak technology transfer and absence or lack of enforcement of governmental strategies prioritising agricultural research. Similarly, public extension systems are often under-resourced and use outdated service provision approaches and extension methods. Increasing global developments in biotechnology and biosafety, climate change concerns, the growing relevance of agri-food chains and the boost in information and communication technologies provide opportunities for growth and renewal of NARES in the Region. REU supports this development by assisting national agriculture research institutions and agricultural and rural extension services through policy advice, technical support, projects/programmes, studies and workshops.
Some examples of assistance provided are:
• UNJP/006/ALB/UNJ “Assessment of current agricultural research and extension system, stakeholder information and communication needs and gaps for providing effective and relevant services to Albanian smallholder farmers” under UN ”Delivery as ONE” programme continues as “Strengthening the functional linkages and building capacities among the stakeholders of the national research and extension system for providing effective and relevant services to Albanian smallholder farmers”, in 2010-2011
• TCP facility “Technical Support for Human Resources Development of Agricultural Advisory Services” in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, FYR Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and UNMIK Kosovo
• TCP /ARM/3103 “Establishment of a virtual extension and research information and communication network (VERCON)” in Armenia;
• Contribution to two training courses for young scientists on Biotic and Abiotic Stresses and Impact of Climate Change on Crop Production under EC FP 7 AGRISAFE project.