Innovative agro-techniques and advisory services play a critical role to improve competitiveness and market orientation of farms, and to meet the challenges of food safety, animal health and welfare and threats to agro-biodiversity. Countries of the region face similar constraints: absence of coherent policies and strategies to guide agricultural research and extension, research priorities not set based on farmers needs, fragmented and poorly coordinated research; poorly staffed and funded agricultural extension/advisory services with inadequate and ineffective linkages with research institutions and farmers. Cooperation among the agricultural research and extension systems of the region will facilitate sharing of experiences and the transfer of agri-technologies and knowledge that will contribute to a better use of limited resources, prevention of duplication of work and faster response to the needs of farmers and existing and potential markets.
The technical consultation workshop on building regional collaboration in agri-technologies and extension in the Balkans was jointly organized by the FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia, the FAO Research and Extension Unit and the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences and Food of the Ss Cyril and Methodius University, Skopje, The Former Yugoslav Republic Of Macedonia.
The aim of the workshop was to bring together key stakeholders of agricultural research and extension and related policy makers from West Balkan countries. The workshop was designed to build a common understanding of new challenges and trends in agricultural research and extension for rural development, specific challenges and opportunities of the region to provide knowledge to assist farmers and other stakeholders in problem-solving and decision making processes. Group discussions assessed needs and opportunities for regional partnerships and collaborative actions to improve existing extension and advisory services and their linkages to research, farmers and rural organizations.