A fruitful intuition

By Prof. Domenico Pessina

A task force at the international level to define the best strategies for the development of agricultural mechanisation. Created in 1989 from the inspiration of the late Prof. Giuseppe Pellizzi, then continued by his Colleagues and Pupils, with crucial support from the Club of Bologna, it combines the highest level of international expertise with a truly global outlook on agricultural mechanisation. 101 Full Members, representing 49 countries from all continents, coming from the research sector, industrial sector and international organisations, meet annually to explore the most current issues related to agricultural mechanisation, reaching conclusions and developing recommendations for the most appropriate actions to be submitted for implementation to national governments, international organisations and the world of research and agricultural production.

At the last Agritechnica in Hanover, Club of Bologna Members met to discuss a topic more important than ever, clearly expressed in the title:  “International Standards: opportunity or problem?” i.e : are the regulations an opportunity (a benefit) or an obstacle to the production process and the marketing of agricultural machines It really is a dilemma! Obviously the answer is not, as often happens, trenchant i.e. exclusively in favour of either hypothesis, but leans towards the classic “It depends”. The success of the regulatory system depends on many factors, but the members of the Club of Bologna have pointed out some in particular.

For International organisations that develop standards, it is emphasised that:

it is necessary to establish a fruitful and ongoing collaboration between research centres and standardisation organisations, so that the standards adopted are always consistent with the highest scientific level, making sure, however, that they do not limit innovation;

manufacturers, agricultural associations and political contacts must always be actively involved in the standardisation process, so that the level of standardisation is fully consistent with the real social need and sustainable by local economies;

the national and regional technical standards must always be carefully harmonised with those issued at international level;

in developing countries the standards must be structured at a level appropriate for local economies, to promote the dissemination of technical standardisation correctly;

globalisation requires fast development of standards, as well as a quick update of those already in force with respect to the current state of the art;

to ensure proper and effective application of the standards, it is necessary to create and/or strengthen the networks of independent testing centres and the certification systems they refer to.

Vice versa, users of the standards consider the following to be important:

the standardisation process must reflect the state of the art without hindering normal technological progress with unproductive leaps forward. From this point of view, introducing overly stringent constraints must be avoided, as is happening, for example, with regulations on polluting emissions from internal combustion engines, whose social benefit is not entirely justified in economic terms;

the dissemination of standards at the international level must be favoured through cost reduction and their easy access online;

through seminars, conferences, short courses, etc., small agricultural machinery manufacturers must be given the opportunity to improve their products through compliance with dedicated standards;

the technicians from less developed countries must be effectively involved in the early stages of the preparation of standards, so that those involved can take the local, social and economic conditions of disadvantaged countries properly into account;

simultaneously the governments of developing countries must take steps, to the extent of their competence, to promote the widest application of international standards.

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