1st REGIONAL MEETING for INNOGROW project - »Regional policies for innovation driven competitiveness and growth of rural SMEs«
The participants discussed national and EU financial support for encouraging entrepreneurship in agriculture, the state of the market and the needs of the region.
The situation on the market in the countryside is dominated by conventional food production with low added value. Demand for organic products is greater than the supply. Mostly are present smaller farms without marketing approach, and SMEs, which are responsible for supplementary activities. Their participation is incoherent. Large corporations have a majority market share. Nature is also threatened by a negative demographic trend, i.e. the aging population and the migration of young people to cities for better employment conditions.
In Slovenia, a subsidy or grant payments to farmers are intended to cover the difference between their production costs and unrealistic price of products on the market. Opinions on measures and support for investment in new production technologies and development are divided. On one hand, the prevailing opinion is that the incentives for investing in new production technologies and the development of innovative business models do not exist. Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Food, on the other hand, has taken measures for Rural Development 2014-2020 - measure M4 Investments in fixed assets, a measure M6 Farm and business development, organic farming measure M11 and M16 measure Cooperation. There is a large disparity between the interests of the authorities and the needs of the economy. It follows that there is a need for closer cooperation and coordination of interests of the state and the economy. This also applies to Gorenjska region, where desired Regional Implementation Plan for projects in the field of agriculture would include technical and financial plan. Good agricultural practices promoting entrepreneurship can be found in other countries and regions where there are effective models for the introduction of changes.
In Gorenjska, the industry shows the need for the dissemination of biotechnological solutions for organic food production and the development and introduction of new technologies for organic food production with high added value. The solution is to optimize production processes, which includes the digitization, automation and robotics, such as: application development and software maintenance for air conditioning, irrigation, fertilization in greenhouses and silos, GPS management applications for tractor navigation, mobile applications for vertical plant growing, DRO-NET drone devices for collecting data on the suitability of land, measuring of chlorophyll in plants and the like. For some time the new trends motivate entrepreneurs to find ways and means to acquire technologies to improve energy efficiency in agriculture. Optimization of manufacturing processes in addition to high value-added products also helps to reduce energy consumption and pollution.
Entrepreneurs are looking to improve supply chain logistics center or create a new specialized logistics center, which is required for a common entry and expansion in the market. Currently, the function of logistics center assumes the Post of Slovenia, which meets only basic criteria for the distribution of agricultural products. What is needed is the development and introduction of innovative business models for the creation of a vertical chain of self-sufficiency. The solution lies in reducing the logistics channels with no additional commissions and margins that are typical for large corporations.
Education is one of the most important factors that influence the success of the development, acquisition and use of new business models and technological solutions. It is essential to constantly upgrade the educational content for the jobs of tomorrow - entrepreneurs must be able to use high-tech, it was highlighted by the representatives of Biotechnical Center Naklo. Development departments within educational and research institutions are eager to cooperate with farmers.
Future tasks foresee an inventory and an exchange of good practices in the field of agricultural policies, and business models and innovative technologies to address the effects on competitiveness and productivity of SMEs in rural areas.
Participants of the meeting were representatives of APS PLUS Ltd – cloud ITC solutions, HIPRI – House of the Future – hotels and other accommodations, Center of Excellence for Biosensors, Instrumentation and Process Control (CO BIK), Biotechnical Centre Naklo, Institute for Information Modeling - AIM – consortium EU HCS, Regional Development Agency SORA, Agriculture and Forestry Institute Kranj, BSC, Ltd., Kranj, Lotrič Metrology d. o. o., Agrohomeopathy for plants and pests - Ing. Majda Ortan, entrepreneur.
The next regional meeting in the framework of the project INNOGROW will be held in the first months of 2017.