June 26, 2023

Italy AKIS | Updates on the different AKIS

AKIS Overview

Italy has different interconnected AKIS at both national and regional levels. This situation largely reflects the variety, and complexity, of the both the administrative de-centralized system and the agroforestry sector and farming systems. The regions/autonomous provinces, in fact, have jurisdiction over agriculture, advisory services, education and vocational training; the general rules of school and university education, on the other hand, are the responsibility of the central state, while research is a matter of concurrent jurisdiction by national and regional levels. Furthermore, the of agroforestry sector and farming systems highly vary across Italy according to the manifold environmental, socio-economic and geomorphological features of Italian countryside. As a matter of fact, the Italian AKIS is a complex multilayered system, characterized by many entities and governance levels, a complex set of multi-level and inter-territorial interconnections, of countless actors that work on overlapping topics but with specific fields of expertise and areas of competency.

The degree of cooperation and integration varies deeply according to the typologies of actors involved, the Region they belong and the policy framework within they act. Certainly, generally speaking, cooperation for innovation interventions, as well as the national rural development network and innovation networks, have contributed to the development and/or the strengthening of relations among such different actors at local level and, in particular, between farmers and advisors on the one hand and the research world on the other. As well, at interregional level liaisons particularly, at institutional level and among research entities, universities, farmer-based organizations and farmers unions, seems to have been consolidated over time, through the implementation of the Rural development programs, and to have led to recurrent collaborations for innovations. Outside Rural Development policies, relationships capable of involving different actors along the knowledge supply chains are mostly project-based, with scarce long-term perspective.

Over time, the lack of coordination, although certainly inherent to the differences of the political and administrative contexts, has been increasingly addressed based on multi-level and interregional strategies and policy arrangements (e.g. interregional network for research, advisory and innovation, National rural network, the national plan for the agricultural research.

Figure 1 – AKIS diagram for Italy | Source: Cristiano et al., AKIS report Italy (i2connect project EU)

AKIS Coordination Bodies

AKIS coordination bodies are set up at National and Regional/Autonomous Provinces’ levels with the aim of: (i) fostering dialogue and interconnections between the different institutions; (ii) promoting the necessary functional relations the AKIS actors; (iii) facilitating the flow of information between the regional, national and European levels.  

The national AKIS Coordination body will be set up and chaired by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Sovereignty and Forestry (MASAF). It will include, at least, representatives of Regions/Provinces, other relevant national institutions (Ministry of University and Research, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Environment and Energy Security), advisors, farmers and of other actors that are relevant for the coordination of the AKIS at national level.

At local level, the AKIS Coordination bodies will be chaired by Regions/Autonomous Provinces and composed by the entities that play functions relating to training, advisory services, research, information, digital services and others relevant activities in relation to the specificities of the competent territory. The main task of the Regional/Autonomous Provinces’ AKIS coordination bodies is to coordinate the definition and implementation of knowledge and innovation policies for the agrifood and forestry sector in respective territories; and this includes interfacing with ERDF and ESF managing authorities.

The National and Regional/Autonomous Provinces’ AKIS Co-ordinations will benefit from the collaboration of the formal Interregional Network of Agricultural Research Forestry, Aquaculture and Fisheries Research Network (officially recognized in 2001 by the Conference of Presidents of the Regions and Autonomous Provinces) to promote connections and networking between the Regions and Autonomous Provinces for the definition of European and national policies and programmes, the joint participation in initiatives of common interest (Technology Platforms etc.) and to highlight specific needs related to research and advisory activities to farms and territories.

CAP Strategic Plan Priorities

The CAP strategic plan highlights the following priorities:

The ecological transition of the agricultural, food and forestry sector. Approximately 10.7 billion euros, between pillars I and II, are earmarked for interventions with clear climate-environmental goals.

  • Organic agriculture and organic animal husbandry, strategic priorities of the Plan. The Plan recognizes the importance of organic farming as a privileged production technique for contributing to the achievement of all the envisaged environmental objectives; with this aim, approximately 2.0 billion euros are allocated to the sector over the five-year period as part of rural development.
  • Animal welfare for the relaunch of animal husbandry from a sustainable perspective. The relaunch of Italian animal husbandry and its competitiveness inevitably passes through great attention to sustainability. With this objective, a significant share of the resources for eco-schemes is dedicated to animal welfare and the reduction of the use of drugs in animal husbandry, to counter a real global health emergency, represented by antimicrobial resistance (about 1, 8 billion euros).
  • Income support system. A more equitable income support system is guaranteed through the progressive equalization of the level of income support which, taking the entire national territory as a reference, determines an important rebalancing in the allocation of direct payment resources, to the advantage of rural areas more marginal (intermediate and with development problems), as well as inland mountainous and hilly areas. At the same time, 10% of the national budget is allocated to redistributive support, focusing attention on small-medium companies.
  • The AKIS strategy aimed at strengthening the competitiveness and sustainability in the agrifood and forestry sector. In order to support agricultural and forestry farms in the adoption of more sustainable and innovative production techniques, the introduction of new technologies and digitization, an important effort has been made to overcome the diversification, the detachment of the knowledge system, propose more effective and foster greater integration between consultancy, training, information and operational teams for innovation.

The AKIS strategy includes the combination of 9 interventions, out of which 3 in the types relating to ‘Cooperation’ (art. 77) and 6 in those of ‘Knowledge and Information Exchange’ (art. 78); the total public expenditure envisaged is approximately 422.5 million euro.

AKIS-related types of interventions will be applied by a systemic and territorial approach, with the involvement of all the relevant AKIS actors, by focusing on:

  • to the synergistic implementation of interventions;
  • to cooperation among the different components of AKIS (consulting, training, research, enterprises, citizenship, Public Administration), so as to offer the farming systems more coherent tools between them;
  • to the Operational Groups of the PEI AGRI in a more participatory key with respect to the plurality AKIS actors, with particular reference to the advisory services;
  • to supporting the increase of competencies and capacities of all the AKIS operators;
  • to assign to the National Rural Network (NRN) the task facilitating knowledge flows based on networking activities.

AKIS interventions will be implemented at regional/provincial level and, when relevant, also, at national level.

Figure 2 – Types of AKIS interventions planned by Regional/Autonomous Provinces (N.) | Source: Ascione E., Ugati R., Vagnozzi A., PSRhub, May 2023

Figure 3 – Amount of resources (Million Euro) | Source: Ascione E., Ugati R., Vagnozzi A., PSRhub, May 2023

Find the full AKIS country report here.

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