Participation in the ΕΒΕΕC Conference, Chios, Greece

The project coordinator AUTH, participated in 15th International Conference Economies of the Balkan and Eastern European Countries (EBEEC), in Chios, Greece. During the conference, it was presented the analysis and results of Greek farmers’ and researchers’ competencies and training needs, related to precision agriculture technologies.

For farmers, a partially mixed concurrent equal status research was designed, involving qualitative and quantitative analysis. To identify participants’ perceptions of their knowledge and competencies in precision agriculture, it was used both open- and closed-ended questions. Quantitative data analysed using central tendency statistics, while qualitative data were subjected to conventional content analysis.

To uncover researchers’ training needs, a purely qualitative approach focused on five dimensions derived from the relevant literature, namely their ability to assess farmers’ problems and needs, estimate the compatibility of precision agriculture technologies to different types of farming, reflect on the impacts of digitalization, envision the future of farming, and promote the responsible exploitation of precision agriculture technologies.

After data collection, a directed content analysis was performed. The results revealed that farmers lack competencies related to the exploitation of precision agriculture technologies, also stressing the need to enhance not only their “technocentric” skills, referring to the value extraction from technology, but also their generic agri-entrepreneurial competencies and capacities to anticipate and design the future of their enterprises.

Our qualitative findings indicate that, although farmers consider knowledge as an essential element of a “good” farmer’s identity, they are critical towards the ability of the Greek agricultural knowledge and innovation system to provide competence development opportunities. Researchers, on the other hand, depending on their area of expertise, prioritized different training needs. These include the development of competencies in predicting how research affects the future of farming and farmers’ well-being; understanding how precision agriculture artifacts interplay with social, environmental, and economic factors, thus promoting a paradigmatic shift of current agricultural systems; building functional schemes for promoting the responsible exploitation of precision agriculture technologies; assessing the compatibility of precision agriculture with different types of farming. To construct competencies, researchers proposed a variety of strategies, ranging from involvement in innovative research projects to the development of knowledge alliances among academia, private companies, and farmers.

Our results indicate that precision agriculture is knowledge-intensive and requires a continuous supply of farmers with competencies and skills. Beyond technology-oriented competencies, enhancing the capacity of both producers and researchers to foresight potential futures and shape through their actions transitions toward sustainable agrifood systems is essential. In addition, promoting knowledge co-creation networks that link academic knowledge with farm practice can facilitate the amalgamation of different types of knowledge and expertise, thus boosting the potential of precision agriculture.

It’s worth-noting that the paper will be published in a scientific journal!