Minutes from Extended SEASN Executive Board meeting – Ilok, Croatia

 Extended SEASN Executive Board meeting was held on march 8 – 9,  2018. in Hotel DUNAV, Ilok, Croatia

… main topics, outcomes and conclusions…

Topic Ilok meeting


Day 1: Thursday, March 8, 2018.

Agenda Ilok

Day 2: Friday, March 9, 2018.



  • Official language: Croatian with consecutive translation on English
  • Short presentations are intended as introductions to discussions
  • Authors of presentations need to prepare 3-7 slides together with half of A-4 text page

List of all participants: see full document here and photo album of participants here.

Outcomes and conclusions

Topic:  Field Advisor Experience

Duro Cerovcec

Colleague Đuro Cerovčec in his presentation emphasized on the state of agriculture in the Vukovar-Srijem County (VSC) that there was a long-standing trend of decreasing the number of farms. In 2010 there were 9991 farms in VSC and in 2017 that number fell to 6870, which is a 32% decrease or 4.5% per year.

The total agricultural area of VSC (Vukovar – Srijem County) amounts to 149,703 hectares, of which 93.01% refers to fields, 2.90% to pastures, 0.65% to meadows, and 1.38% to vineyards and 1.72 % on orchards.

Up to 20 hectares of land covers 74.19% of farms

In the VSC, in the year 2017, 12 agricultural advisors (565 farms per 1 advisor)

Božica Dolić

Božica Dolić in her presentation pointed out that the main activities of the field advisor are related to the implementation of rural development measures:

Measure 1: “Distribution of knowledge and information activity”. Measure 2: “Advisory service, agency for agriculture and agricultural government assistance”

The most significant challenges in the next 5 years from the perspect of field advisors is the less time for advising and field practice with farmers because of growing administrative work.

These field advisors gave an excellent introduction to the next topic.

Topic: Key challenges in SEASN Advisory Services.

In this Topic SEASN Advisory service directors and leading employees exchange their stands on midterm perspective of their respective organizations. The information gained here serve as guidelines to future SEASN activities.

Together we pointed out that the most significant problems and challenges are actually shared on large scale by all SEASN members.

Zdravko Tušek, Croatia

Zdravko Tušek, Croatia

  • “Croatia is a key challenge” said colleague Tušek, and he point on the importance of better communication with all farmers, especially with young people.
  • Other challenges:

– Now (2017) for Rural Development Measures, M1 and M2, we spend 40% of the Service Hours, and we realized only 26% of total revenues. Human Resources: the service has a ban on employment. There is not enough time for advisor training, but the goal is to use 5-10% of the total annual work experience. The stronger linkage with scientists and researchers is needed through the M16 Rural Development Program. The biggest challenge is the preparation of an advisory service for the new ZAP period, as the regulations are adopted at the last moment so the service didn’t have time to prepare for the implementation of measures.

  • Advisors are mostly 75% FF (Family farms), which are small and medium-sized FF
  • One advisor works with 550 FF
  • Basic characteristics of FF holder/farmer: (high life expectancy (old are old age?), low level of agricultural education, only 5% of farmers have agricultural education, 7% of young farmers, up to 40 years).

In short: most of other SEASN’S members pointed on the similar problems in agriculture like low level of agricultural education and poorly application of newer agricultural approach. So, as said and described in the short interpretation from presentation below by colleague Hrovatič, looks like close neighborhood of Slovenia shares the same problem as others.

Igor Hrovatič

Igor Hrovatič, Slovenia

Advisory service should be available from small to professional farmers because of type of farms, type of farming, multifunctional role of agriculture. Trainings of advisors.

AKIS: enhancing knowledge transfer and better collaboration with R&D (advisor must be comparatives in knowledge with others). Advisory service as a road from state to the farms and rural areas as a implementator of CAP and other agricultural and rural development measures. Financing: must be stable adapting to a new approaching in agriculture: digitalisation, precising farming, climate change, environment protection, holistic orientation (to community, consumers, not just to farmers).

SEASN/EUFRAS/CECRA: implementing in advisory work:

  • The SEASN Advisory Services have many common problems like described below:
  • Slovenia has about 6000 FF with average size agricultural area of 6.8 HA, (in 2016), what is in comparision on 1998 when average FF size was about 5 HA, this indicate that the size of the economy did not change in a short time.
  • Slovenian farms are small farms, uncompetitive and technologically lagging compared to developed EU economies. The advisory service in Slovenia goes every 10 years in some reorganization, this is not the best because it is difficult to adapt Farmers are critical of the advisory service because the advisors are doing too much of the administrative work and the lack of professional and technological advising. The expert, economic and technological problems of farmers need to be more focused on advisors.
  • Slovenian farmers make 60% of their direct payment income (1st pillar)
  • EIP, AKIS, “LANAC KNOWLEDGE” – improvements are needed
  • We have the same problem as Croatia has.

 In Slovenia, one advisor with 180-450 agricultural holdings depending on the region and type of agricultural production.

Peter Krištof

Krištof Peter, Kärnten, Austria

  • The average size of farmland in Kärnten is 20 HA, the number of farms decreases annually by 2%. In the process of major reorganization, public funding is reduced. The Advisory Service is part of the Agricultural Chamber.
  • Financing: 60% public funds, 25% from the Chamber of Commerce, the rest must be earned on the market
  • Advising should be general and specialist because farmers require it.
  • Discussion groups, dysfunctional groups, dyslexia, an effective new form of advising that has been developing in Austria for 10 years and experiences are excellent in this form of advising, farmers exchange their own experiences and to learn from each other, and the role of advisor is support group and moderation.
  • Since farmers have less and less time to attend the lectures, successful e-learning is introduced.
  • He strongly supports international cooperation that enables knowledge exchange, agricultural advisory experiences and more dynamic development of new technologies in agriculture, thus contributing to the growth of competitiveness and farmers.
Timea Reszketo

Timea Reszketo, Hungary

In Hungary, impartial advisors are focusing mainly on administrative advising, while technical advising is done by input providers. Due to this, if a farmer needs good quality technical advice, many times, ask for it from abroad (e.g. cheese making advice from France, horticultural farming advice from the Netherlands). There is also a lack of advisors who are giving advice with a holistic view (keeping in mind the needs of the whole business), or who are doing innovation brokering. On the top, work of advisors is not that attractive, so there may be problems with recrutation even regarding administrative advisory.

It limits the development of the advisory system that improving advisory services is not in focus, not a ‚national’ priority, so both a targeted high-level education, and proper (financial) incentives are missing (e.g. 2018 is the 4th consecutive year without rural development support). So, the efforts of the Commission regarding the new CAP, specificly the efforts to emphasize the need for the improvement of advisory services, are welcome.

Cosmin Salasan

Cosmin Salasan, Romania

The following points and remarks are prepared to be submitted to the attention and discussions during the SEASN Executive Board Meeting:

  1. Increase the Visibility and the Presence of SEASN as regional network! Web presence including the return of search results when looking after the network must be and will be improved. Other specific tools to communicate in the Internet Social Media are to be added;
  2. What is the share of Rural Development + Information + Animation targeted through current and future activities of SEASN? Specific interventions and support is currently increasing as demand from the Advisory Services (AS) clients in the region leading to the natural question if the AS should consider increasing the competences and the services provided soon but at the same time on medium and long run;
  3. Contribution to the next programming exercise? The network has already recorded many experiences in different regions and will further compile new ones. This feature places the network and the component Advisory Services in a key position to contribute as an active actor/stakeholder to the future programming exercise for RDPs. At the same time, it represents an excellent testing ground for various hypotheses considered while preparing the programming;
  4. A wider effort in mapping the AKISs at the SEASN region scale? By updating/completing the AKISs for each country covered by SEASN, the network grows into a reference in the region. Parallel it adds to the point 1 above building on the visibility of the network;
  5. SEASN Advisory Service Kit could be considered for development. Further discussions are needed to define the content and the design in the most flexible way so any SEASN member and actors outside the network and make use of. A good start could be represented by the existing ones developed on global scale and further complete and develop towards a tailor-made solution for the region;
  6. Mapping for complementarity within the frame of other Programs? A good opportunity to extend beyond the specific boundaries of the RDPs is to map the potential involvement in activities granted by other programs financed by ERDF or ESF where currently priorities e.g. linked to social economy in rural or equality of chances and support for fragile categories in rural are more at ease and within the existing professional experience of the Advisory Services. Joint approaches were already programmed for these specific interventions at program level mentioning and/or involving the implementation of RDPs;
  7. Visioning exercise: Advisory Services/SEASN 2030-2050? A wider and extended visioning exercise for the future of the Advisory Services and SEASN could bring more clarity in planning along the future EU programs by providing more precision in shorter targeted achievements. Although a relatively large effort it could be taken into consideration as a coherent development towards a brighter long-term development.
Snežana Janković

Snežana Janković, Serbia, spoke about the same or similar problems and challenges like Colleague Cosmin Salasan.

The discussion highlighted that the future development of agricultural advisory services in Southeast Europe and the Western Balkans must respect the following key features of agricultural structures in the south-eastern Europe (Western Balkan Countries):

  • Dominant small scale agricultural governments to 10 ha of agricultural areas, low technological level, social context, low level of agricultural education of the landscape of the economy, also low competitiveness and economic efficacy, low level of agricultural organization (as a member of SEASN member), lecture of agricultural business groups (none of them in the body of government), fragmented and nonfunctional AKIS.

Objectives in Serbia

Increase in incomes among all participants in the production, processing and marketing of agricultural products, more rational use of available production capacities, increasing the employment of agricultural producers, a more coherent investment of labor and resources, and thus achieving more economical production, successful association of agricultural producers and more efficient work and organization of agricultural producers, mitigating the uncontrolled outflow of labor from agriculture and villages, and others.

The total number of agricultural holdings is: 631.552, the number of farm households is: 628,552 and the number of registered agricultural holdings is: 466,971. On average, there are 5.4 hectares of arable land. Average yields are: Wheat: 3.5 ton/ha (versus 5.3 tons/ha in the EU), Barley: 3.1 tons/ha, Corn: 4.9 tons/ha, Milk: 2.900 L/cow, and 47% of households have a total standard production value of less than EUR 2 000, next are 22% of households which have a standard production value of between 2,000 and 4,000 euros and 31% of households have a standard production value of over 4,000 euros and they account for 81.6% of production in Serbia. Producers should show interest for new and better ways of dealing with agriculture and benefit from it. An organized system that can provide agricultural producers with knowledge and skills to become competitive is the Agricultural Advisory and Professional Service of Serbia, along with a good education system for future generations of farmers.

In Serbia the rural population has decreased by 311,139 inhabitants (10.9%) and has fallen to below 3 million, and today it accounts for 40.6% of the total population of Serbia.

Negative demographic trends in rural areas illustrate the following data:

In 2010, the Law on the performance of advisory and expert activities in the field of agriculture was adopted.

The Agricultural Advisory and Professional Service of Serbia is organized in 34 centers, and the control and coordination of their work is carried out by the Institute for the Application of Science in Agriculture for 22 centers and the Provincial Secretariat for Agriculture for 12 centers. In addition to the state sector (259 advisers to 34 centers), the private sector and NGOs are active.

Topic: Project Applications

Kristijan Jelaković

Kristijan Jelaković, Croatia, had an interesting presentation on H2020 PLAID AND NEFERTITI projects conducted by the Croatian Agricultural and Forestry Advisory Service
PLAID: Peer-to-Peer Learning: Accessing Innovation through Demonstration. NEFERTITI: Networking of European Farms to Enhance Cross Fertilization and Innovation Uptake through Demonstration.

He also introduced H2020 PROJECTS – FAIRshare and REDUSE which were signed in February 2018, and SEASN is a project partner.

 FAIRshared-Farm Advisory Digital Innovation Tools Realized and Shared- PORTRAIT

Call: H2020-RUR-2018-2020 (1-stage), CSA, (Rural Renaissance)

Topic: RUR-13-2018 Enabling the farm advisor community to prepare farmers for the digital age. Type of action: CSA Coordination and support action. Proposal acronym: FAIRshare, Budget. 7 mil euro

Consortium: 22 organizations and institutions from at least 15 countries (incl. SEASN). Coordinator: prof. Tom Kelly, Taegasc, Ireland


To ensure that farm advisors and their organizations effectively use digital tools and services for supporting a more productive and sustainable agriculture.

FAIRshared-Farm Advisory Digital Innovation Tools
FAIRshared-Farm Advisory Digital Innovation Tools

REDUSE: REthink Decisions on health management and anti-microbial USE

Call: H2020- SFS-11-2018-2019 (2-stages), (Sustainable Food Security).

Topic: Anti-microbials and animal production, Type of action: RIA

Proposal acronym: REDUSE

Budget: 6 M€

Coordinator: prof. Albert Sundrum, Faculty of Organic Agricultural Sciences, University of Kassel, Germany.



EU animal health strategy “prevention is better than cure” intends to meet public concerns through the development of alternative strategies to reduce the need for anti-microbial use (AMU) concept of ‘multi-actor approach’ involving representatives of farmers, advisory services, veterinarians and stakeholders.


In short: to identify main reasons why farmers accept or reject health management recommendations to identify levers/incentives for adherence to prudent use principles by veterinarians and farmers. To create a basis for predicting the behavior of stakeholders involved in health management and a basis for assessing resource allocation for health management. To develop options for reducing the use of anti-microbials in livestock farming


More targeted approach for veterinarians and advisors to improve the uptake of recommendations. To enable farmers, veterinarians and advisors more to identify tailor-made practices for dealing with MID and AMU at the farm level and closer collaboration between veterinarians and advisors on the farm level.

Topic: SEASN Workshop, 20th June 2018 Wednesday, Mosonmagyaróvár

Msc. Milan Husnjak presented the 57th IALB and 7th EUFRAS Conference,

SEASN and ESEE Meeting, Mosonmagyaróvár, HU, 17-20-6- 2018.


  • “New Challenges in Rural Areas – Tradition and Transforming Agriculture”, which we will try to examine by giving an overview of the Hungarian situation, and also that of international scale – staging professional lectures, interactive workshops, and study tours with various topics, organized to agricultural and food industry businesses combining tradition and innovation in the countryside.
  • The conference focuses on new challenges and trends in agriculture, and how these find their roots in local traditions. We hope we can offer you insight into the rich rural traditions of the Szigetköz and Western Transdanubian region through visiting self-organising rural communities producing traditional local goods or offering services like eco-tourism or horse riding. Discussion how these can influence the work of rural advisors and what kind of solutions can we find together to these challenges.
  • The biggest meeting of advisers in Europe!
  • Traditional, best and most important European advisors meeting!
  • The best insight into current advisory topics!
  • Excellent networking possibility!
  • Best practices, efficient knowledge transfer, innovations and the information which can be adopt to advisory daily work!
  • Improving international experiences!
  • The conference is a good opportunity to get related to international projects!
  • Communication face to face with advisors from different countries!

The following points were highlighted in the discussion:

The average cost of participation in the 57th IALB and 7th EUFRAS Conference, SEASN and ESEE Meeting, Mosonmagyaróvár, HU, 17-20-6- 2018 is around 620 euros (entry-270, accommodation around 200, and trip 150). The salary level of advisors in most SEASN members is very low. Estimation in Euro: Slovenia-1000, Croatia -700, Serbia, Bulgaria-300, Romania, Kosovo, Macedonia – 250.

This very low level of average salaries for adavisors in SEASN members makes it impossible to participate at this conference without co-financing.

For these facts, it was agreed that the consent of GFRAS to be requested from the donation to SEASN from the Treaty no. 2017-1350-6 may be used to co-finance the participation of SEASN members at the 57th IALB and 7th EUFRAS Conference, SEASN and ESEE Meeting, Mosonmagyaróvár, HU, 17-20-6- 2018.

TOPIC: CECRA perspectives for SEASN members

CECRA – Certificate for European Consultants in Rural Areas.

Kristijan Jelaković, CACRA Trainer from the Croatian Agricultural and Forestry Advisory Service presented in his presentation on the CECRA System of Consultant Training Methodology.

The CECRA traners

The CECRA traners promotion, january, 2018. Description: (1. Aleksandar Horvatić (Cro), 2. Igor Hrovatić (Slo), 3. Daria Pipan (Slo), 4. Kristijan Jelaković (Cro), 5. Phd. Slađan Stanković (Srb)

In the discussion it is settled and agreed upon:

  1. SEASN has 5 CECRA trainers (2 from Slovenia, 2 from Croatia and 1 from Serbia
  2. SEASN initiates co-operation among members for the implementation of advisory training on CECRA system: Training program geared to developing methodological,social and personal advisory skills, suitable for all advisors working in rural areas, regardless of their advisory priorities and specializations. Offers cross-border networking opportunities for the Certificate holder.


  • standardized trainings to develop the skills of advisors/consultants in rural areas.
  • methodological training
  • to notice the bigger picture off
  • thinking outside of the box


TOPIC:  SEASN recommendations for the development of Advisory services in SEE (SEE – South East Europe)

Milan Husnjak, Croatia, Slađan Stanković, Serbia and Krištof Peter, Austria have proposed a basic Concept for the Development of Advisory Services in South East Europe – SEASN POSITION PAPER.

After a very contentious discussion, the following decisions were adopted:

The decision was to prepare SEASN POSITION PAPER: Agricultural Advisory Services of Southeast Europe 2021-2027, based on these SEASN decisions (At the session of the extended SEASN Steering Board 8/9 of 3 February 2018 in Ilok, Croatia) approaches to developing strategic recommendations for the development of advisory services in Southeast Europe: SEASN POSITION PAPER: Agricultural Advisory Services of South East Europe 2021-2027 (SEASN recommendations for the development of Advisory services for the period 2021-2027. SEASN POSITION PAPER will be prepared based on similar documents of IALB, EUFRAS, GFRAS. and “SCAR Policy Brief on the Future of Advisory Services” The basic concept.

Strategic recommendations will articulate key development goals at the national levels of SEASN membership and it will identify concrete areas of development co-operation of SEASN member (eg capacity development of “back office”, sub-specialization training of consultants -cecra). The strategic guidelines are a concrete project of the Member States and strategic guidelines strengthen the reputation of the SEASN network.


Analysis of the state in each member according to the current state/objective principle (modeled on ILAB)

  • analysis of relevant documents (from a-e)
  • implementation of applicable solutions from the above documents to strategic recommendations
  • original solutions related to specific needs in the region
  • synergy with project activities (at FAIRshared, RUR-18-2019: fueling the potential of advisors for innovation.



Advising, organization/reorganization/strengthening back office; financing, digital application development tools, method-based advising -discussion groups; conducting advisor- cecra; international cooperation; implementation of joint projects; quality management (fherherz); strengthening akis (scientific and expert papers on field advising…

The SEASN Expert Working Group was formed to prepare the proposal for the document: Cosmin Salasan, Head of Unit; Snežana Janković, deputy leader; and members: Igor Hrovatič, Zdravko Tušek, Timea Reszketo, Peter Krištof, Milan Husnjak.


The Expert Working Group will prepare the SEASN POSITION PAPER proposal for discussion at SEASN Workshop in Hungary on 20nd June 2018.

SEASN POSITION PAPER will be adopted at the SEASN Annual Assembly in November 2018 in Ilok.

Topic: Any other bussines (A.O.B.)

  • Joint projects,
  • CECRA Training
  • SEASN Position paper



  • Improving the organization of the implementation of activities
  • good teamwork
  • a clear division of tasks, responsibilities and rights
  • Increasing the effects of the implementation of activities
  • ensuring sustainability of the SEASN network


An example of good practice of organization and action in ILAB.


Kristijan Jelaković, team leader

Aleš Tolar, deputy leader

Slađan Stanković, member

Timea Reszketo, member

Peter Krištof, member

SEWG CECRA training

Igor Hrovatič, team leader

Slađan Stanković, deputy leader

Kristijan Jelaković, member

SEWG Position paper

Cosmin Salasan, team leader

Snežana Janković, deputy leader

Igor Hrovatič, member

Zdravko Tušek, member

Timea Reszketo, member

Peter Krištof, member

Milan Husnjak, member

SEWG Finance and Membeship

Slađan Stanković, team leader

Timea Reszketo, deputy leader

Milan Husnjak, member