Exploring the perspectives of innovative agricultural educational programs in Greece

After the recent reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the European Union (EU) encourages farmers through environmentally friendly regulations to produce high quality products, which meet the expectations of consumers. In order to achieve these objectives, the use of new technologies is required, including those affecting the production and marketing of agricultural products. Among these, precision agriculture (PA) constitutes a new form of production, which utilizes cutting-edge technology mainly to reduce the production costs and improve the product quality, while reducing the adverse effects of modern farming on the environment. It has been found out that the diffusion of sustainable practices, such as PA, is facilitated by educational programs and is influenced in a positive way by extension services to farmers and especially for those whose farm size permits them to undertake serious investments. Indeed, in Greece there is a delay in implementation of PA due to some factors related to the structure of agriculture, human capital and lack of specialized personnel of consultancy and education. Concerning PA, the assessment of educational needs of at utmost importance because the arising needs of farmers have changed since the first stages of the adoption of PA. The main objective of this research is the examination of the educational needs of young farmers in Serres, Greece, concerning PA. In order to achieve this, the results of a survey are presented demonstrating the attitudes of young farmers concerning PA methods and the level of their adoption; their educational needs and last, their preferred training methods. The size of the sample was 110 young farmers, in order to achieve more detailed and accurate results. The main methodological analysis framework incorporates a frequency analysis of young farmers’ responses regarding their attitudes towards PA and their educational needs, a categorical principal component analysis (CatPCA) for the investigation of the internal validity of the survey variables and a categorical regression for the investigation of factors affecting the dimensions formulated by means of the CatPCA.

According to the results of this study, several suggestions arose. Concerning the State, through the Ministry of Rural Development and Food, several actions could be seriously undertaken, for further adoption of PA, considering that this critical population of young farmers is already familiar with the concept of PA or has already adopted some of its methods. In this framework, the development of appropriate infrastructure to support the diffusion of PA in the agricultural sector is of utmost importance in order to take all its advantages. The development of Greek portals and search engines providing thorough information about PA constitutes an integral part of this infrastructure, as well as the re-organization of existing ones. On the other side, the role of online social networks could also be important in the training and information provision of farmers keen on PA methods. From the young farmers’ side, their active participation in structuring and organizing agricultural programs is considered crucial. Additionally, they should be convinced that they should adopt PA methods, if they really want to increase the economic performance of their farms. Last, private companies in Serres should provide, through highly trained PA managers, specialized services of PA to farmers who want to use these innovative methods, something that can result in the further diffusion of PA.

Source: (http://www.inderscience.com/storage/f811264125937101.pdf). Kountios G., Bournaris T., Papadavid G., Michailidis A. & Papadaki-Klavdianou A. (2018). Exploring educational needs of young farmers in precision agriculture in Serres, Greece, & the perspective of innovative agricultural educational programs.  Journal for International Business and Entrepreneurship Development, Vol.11(1), pp.4-14.