Definition of AKIS: An agricultural knowledge andinformation system (AKIS) describes a structured network composed of differentindividuals, private and public organizations who join together and areconnected by professional, commercial, and social relationships (Röling 1988). Thisnetwork consists of different actors such as farmers, researchers, extensionservices, 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 linkbetween all concerned stakeholders in order to promote an efficient mutuallearning.
The effectiveness of an AKIS relies on the connection strengthbetween the different stakeholders and the ability to guarantee a continuouscommunication and flow of information between AKIS members (Röling). Therefore proper structuring and definedfunctions of each entity in an AKIS influences the motivation of the entitiesto contribute in the network and ensure technology transfer. AKIS has been alsopresented as Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation System by the EuropeanCommission (EU SCAR 2013). Many studies have tried toassess the ability of researchers to place their ideas and publications intothe development of production. Certain have concluded that research programsdid not invest enough time and resources to valorize and market their researchoutcomes. While other studies suggest that researchers tend to deviate from topicsconsidered priority by farmers and focus on research areas that may not beuseful in improving agricultural production. On the other hand, farmers have been also reported to remainconservative and confined in endorsing new ideas and innovations and are notinvolved enough in research and development programs.
Therefore, connectingbetween both farmers and research programs and ensuring the flow ofcommunication between both parties can help in putting research findings into thedevelopment of production. The concept of an agriculturalknowledge and information system aims to improve the transfer of knowledge,therefore considers that both agricultural extension services and researchprograms should not be regarded as separate entities with independent processesinvolving different institutions (Röling 1988 and 1990, Bunting 1986). It leanson an approach that encapsulates scientists, farmers, extension specialists andany other potential stakeholder in a single agricultural knowledge andinformation system (Röling 1990, 1). However, an AKAS is bound tothe individuals and organizations contributing to the system and the strengthof links binding them which in turns defines the level of innovation andproductivity enhancement that can be reached within the agricultural sector.
There also a dependency on how the system is being structured and therelational content being defined. In such case, if farmers are marginalized bythe system without establishing any proper connections, research programs willthen direct their research activities towards their interests deviating by thatfrom conducting a research that can contribute to the interests of farmers (Röling1990, 34). In this case it is important to link between research programs andextension services so that the latter can support the information exchangebetween both entities (farmers and researchers) to tunnel research findingstowards the improvement of production practices. To guarantee an optimalfunctioning and continuous operation of an agricultural knowledge andinformation system it is important to sensitize the stakeholders inestablishing and maintaining a bilateral flow of information and knowledge.
Itis also important to identify the concordance and mutual interests sharedbetween the different entities of the system as the higher the overlapping rateof interests between those entities the stronger the incentives to continuouslycooperate and foster the exchange of information.