AgriLink The role of advisory services in farmers’ decision making for innovation uptake: retro-innovation in hay making. - AgriLink

The role of advisory services in farmers’ decision making for innovation uptake: retro-innovation in hay making.

Romania, Brasov

The county of Brasov in Southern Transylvania is an ideal region in which to study these changes in hay-making.

There has been widespread change during the last 10 years in the hay-making techniques used by small farmers in Brasov county.  Traditionally the hay would be cut with a scythe, left to dry, turned regularly, raked into rows and then gathered in haystacks – all with manual labour.

Numerous mechanical techniques for mowing, turning and collecting hay have now replaced to a great extent the use of manual labour for traditional hay-making.  These range from small motor scythes that are pushed by hand for mowing grass to full-size tractor drawn equipment for mowing, turning and baling (both small rectangular and large round bales).

Study focus

The study focus on the flow of knowledge to and between farmers that are both active in – and considering entry to – the hay making technics and tools. Particular attention is paid to distinguishing the knowledge systems of the pioneers and early adopters from the non-adopters.

In Brasov, farmers’ compensate for the lack of coherent information about various hay-making innovations by relying primarily on their informal networks of neighbours and peers (some of which are able to transfer good practices from having worked in agriculture abroad), as well as on free information available on the internet. Depending on the active actors around their villages, farmers may have access to professional organizations that provide support on RDP AEM measures and adjacent innovations (such as possibility to buy new machinery) from local DAJ offices, independent consultants, NGOs, equipment resellers and farmers associations. These actors are quite focused on the possibilities offered by RDP funding, and do not respond to the broad range of informational needs of farmers regarding agronomical, technical and market information. The Romanian TV programs which they watch and the agronomical fairs often promote costly technological innovations, appropriate for bigger commercial farms, and do not cover the needs of smaller and medium farmers looking to upgrade production. One particularity of the region of Braşov is the active presence and involvement of NGO actors in informing farmers about retro-innovation and hay-making practices.  This is likely because of the high value of the environment in the area, and not a consistent pattern to be expected in across Romania.

Full report is available here.

Partner and responsible person contact

Highclere Consulting

Highclere Consulting (HCC)

HCC has a vast experience in working with the farmers and rural areas. In Brasov County HCC is also implementing an AgriLink Living Lab.

Lessons learned
1 The advisory landscapes reflect the weak and fragmented nature of the Romanian advisory system.
National Agency for Agricultural Consulting (ANCA) since 2010 have crippled their ability to play a meaningful role for Romania’s over 3 million farmers. Currently, they have low staffing and resource endowments, particularly in what concerns their ability to travel to the field and be present in the proximity of farmers. Furthermore, considering their priority mandate of supporting the implementation of the RDP, the DAJ offices are also limited in their ability to be responsive to farmers’ actual needs.
2 Informal networks of family members and neighbour farmers are very important.
The single most important source of information for farmers across Romania is that provided through their trusted informal networks of family members and neighbour farmers.
3 Determination, solidarity and resilience of the farmers make innovation possible.
This case study shows that innovation is still possible in spite of these challenges, their narratives show that this has largely been due to the determination, solidarity and resilience of the farmers rather than to an enabling and diverse advisory environment, responsive to their full range of informational and innovation needs.

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