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Definition of AKIS:


An agricultural knowledge and
information system (AKIS) describes a structured network composed of different
individuals, private and public organizations who join together and are
connected by professional, commercial, and social relationships (Röling 1988). This
network consists of different actors such as farmers, researchers, extension
services, and agricultural organizations having a mutual interest to create,
transfer, share and make practical and effective use of agricultural technologies,
information and knowledge. The main objective of AKIS is to effectively link
between all concerned stakeholders in order to promote an efficient mutual
learning. The effectiveness of an AKIS relies on the connection strength
between the different stakeholders and the ability to guarantee a continuous
communication and flow of information between AKIS members (Röling).  Therefore proper structuring and defined
functions of each entity in an AKIS influences the motivation of the entities
to contribute in the network and ensure technology transfer. AKIS has been also
presented as Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation System by the European
Commission (EU SCAR 2013).

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Many studies have tried to
assess the ability of researchers to place their ideas and publications into
the development of production. Certain have concluded that research programs
did not invest enough time and resources to valorize and market their research
outcomes. While other studies suggest that researchers tend to deviate from topics
considered priority by farmers and focus on research areas that may not be
useful in improving agricultural production. 
On the other hand, farmers have been also reported to remain
conservative and confined in endorsing new ideas and innovations and are not
involved enough in research and development programs. Therefore, connecting
between both farmers and research programs and ensuring the flow of
communication between both parties can help in putting research findings into the
development of production.


The concept of an agricultural
knowledge and information system aims to improve the transfer of knowledge,
therefore considers that both agricultural extension services and research
programs should not be regarded as separate entities with independent processes
involving different institutions (Röling 1988 and 1990, Bunting 1986). It leans
on an approach that encapsulates scientists, farmers, extension specialists and
any other potential stakeholder in a single agricultural knowledge and
information system (Röling 1990, 1).


However, an AKAS is bound to
the individuals and organizations contributing to the system and the strength
of links binding them which in turns defines the level of innovation and
productivity enhancement that can be reached within the agricultural sector.
There also a dependency on how the system is being structured and the
relational content being defined. In such case, if farmers are marginalized by
the system without establishing any proper connections, research programs will
then direct their research activities towards their interests deviating by that
from conducting a research that can contribute to the interests of farmers (Röling
1990, 34). In this case it is important to link between research programs and
extension services so that the latter can support the information exchange
between both entities (farmers and researchers) to tunnel research findings
towards the improvement of production practices.


To guarantee an optimal
functioning and continuous operation of an agricultural knowledge and
information system it is important to sensitize the stakeholders in
establishing and maintaining a bilateral flow of information and knowledge. It
is also important to identify the concordance and mutual interests shared
between the different entities of the system as the higher the overlapping rate
of interests between those entities the stronger the incentives to continuously
cooperate and foster the exchange of information. 

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