Researchers at the VMU Agriculture Academy: Expert Services to the European Commission
The VMU Agriculture Academy has become a provider of expert services to the European Commission (EC). This is the strong sign of acknowledgement of the scientific potential of the Academy. The winning project by VMU Agriculture Academy has become its membership ticket to the consortium uniting 18 competent partners. This will enable the Academy to make a significant contribution to implementation of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) of the future financial period of the EU focused on the dissemination of knowledge and innovations in agriculture.
Overarching Goal: Modernization of the Agricultural Sector
“The contract between the expert consortium and the EC came into effect this July and will remain effective for 9 years subject to yearly renewal, i.e. will cover the coming budget period of the EU and another three years that will involve further implementation of projects under various programs,” – Prof Antanas Maziliauskas, Rector Emeritus of VMU and one of the project initiators shared his joy. The consortium signed the contract under the measure “Networking Activities in Support of the Common Agricultural Policy”, Lot 2 “Support for networking activities focusing on specifically targeting innovation and knowledge exchange — EIP-AGRI”.
The overarching goal of the CAP is modernization of the sector by accumulating, sharing, and applying the knowledge to practice, implementing innovations, and improving digitalization in agriculture and rural areas. The objective of the consortium will involve facilitation and support to collaboration to promote the dissemination of innovations and knowledge in the areas of agriculture, forestry, and rural development at the EU level. This will open new possibilities to the researchers at the VMU Agriculture Academy.
Scope of Activities of the Consortium: from Analytical Work to Practical Workshops
“There is tremendous analytical work ahead for the consortium experts as they will be analysing the projects under various programs (Horizon 2020, Horizon Europe, LIFE, INTERREG, EIP-AGRI, etc.) and identifying the innovations to be delivered by respective projects. They will also assess their applicability in the agriculture across the Community. The information shall be linked not only the key goals of the CAP, but also the Green Deal, in particular, the Farm to Fork, Biodiversity Strategies, and the new Forest Strategy that is still in the process of development.
Modern agriculture raises new questions to science, and one of the consortium objectives is to assess the relevance of these issues and direct them towards the Horizon Europe programme for the Community researchers to submit applications and conduct respective research.
The experts also collect and analyse remarks and requests by farmers practitioners to conduct research. This helps identify the most promising subject areas, including those of the specific projects of the EIP activity groups.
Another area of the consortium activity is promotion of knowledge and innovation sharing. This will involve organization of seminars, practical workshops, expert discussions that are expected to result in specific proposals. The team is in charge of preparation of three focus groups annually, expert selection, content of the activities, moderation of discussions, and preparation of reports. For example, the experts representing different countries and areas brought together in a focus group will be discussing on the environmentally friendly water management solutions not requiring big investments, but based on the innate capacity of the nature to recover, for one year,” – A. Maziliauskas has shared the agenda. Prof A. Maziliauskas will perform one of the major coordinating roles in the focus group.
During the new CAP period, the consortium will continue the activity of the EIP-AGRI SF support office established in 2013 for innovation and knowledge sharing. The experts work in their respective fields of expertise. The group of the Consortium of organisations consists of public agencies, R&D centres, two universities (including the VMU Agriculture Academy), NGOs, advisory agencies from 15 EU countries. The coordinator of the Consortium is the Belgian Flemish Land Agency (VLM). It has provided its facilities in Brussels and hosts the office of EIP-AGRI SF support service for knowledge and information sharing. The consortium partners delegate their respective representatives to the office. The office team consists of Brussels stationed experts as well as other “regular” and “non-regular” experts living in 14 member countries, working remotely, and attending the events in Brussels or other EU countries.
Responsible Roles Allocated to the Researchers at VMU Agriculture Academy
The representatives of VMU Agriculture Academy are involved in different subgroups. Prof Dr A. Maziliauskas is the expert of research and innovations in the area of climate and natural resources, and Assoc. Prof Dr Rasa Pakeltienė is the expert of knowledge and innovations in the area of cooperation and knowledge and innovation sharing. The both representatives of the Academy have already started their work in the main expert team for contract implementation. In case of a large volume of works, there is the possibility to include more researchers at the VMU Agriculture Academy into the contract activities.
The Consortium pursues a particularly important goal of active engagement with the administrations of the member countries. Its objective is promotion of cooperation between the national CAP networks and all the entities creating, implementing, and disseminating innovations.
With dissemination of knowledge and innovations (AKIS) being one of the key umbrella activities, part of the experts will focus particularly on the promotion, analysis of agricultural knowledge and innovation activities, and provision of the recommendations on the improvement thereof and reduction of fragmentation of the activities. The team works under the principles of clusterisation, analyses, and provides consultations to different AKIS clusters. Assoc. Prof R. Pakeltienė is responsible for the analysis and consultation of the AKIS cluster of and dialogue with the Western European countries.
New Challenges Promoting the Demand for Expert Services
When preparing the CAP strategic plans, the EU countries prioritized development of the cooperation networks and dissemination of agricultural knowledge and innovations. Innovations and knowledge sharing are promoted for the agricultural, forestry sectors and rural areas to become more sustainable and competitive, help the farmers, foresters, and local rural population create more sustainable sources of income, strengthen resilience to the global changes, help save on the resources, reduce the use of fertilizers and chemical materials, at the same time maintaining an optimum investment to revenue ratio.
For the above reasons, the interdisciplinary knowledge, development, acceleration, and coordination of the cooperation networks is a very important part of the CAP, and the researchers at VMU Agriculture Academy will contribute significantly to the implementation thereof.
For more detailed information about the EIP-AGRI activities and opportunities for cooperation and expert work, please visit the EIP-AGRI website using the following link.