GFRAS: Innovating Rural Advisory Services

Farmer Field School in Thailand
Farmer Field School in Thailand

International development institutions and investors increasingly recognise the essential role played by rural advisory services (RAS) in reducing hunger and poverty. Yet, until recently, they have failed to present a coherent and credible voice, with little representation in global or regional rural development forums.

What are Rural Advisory Services

RAS are about strengthening capacities, empowering rural people, and promoting innovations. RAS support people to obtain skills and information, and to address challenges so as to improve their livelihoods and well-being.

Traditionally, RAS disseminate information about technologies, markets, inputs and financial services, and assist farmers to develop their farming and management skills. But RAS also broker interactions between farmers, the private sector, research, education, and government. RAS coach different actors to improve market access, deal with changing patterns of risk, and protect the environment

RAS providers are highly diverse and have limited access to information and advice regarding funding options and means to influence policymaking. They would therefore benefit greatly from more interaction, particularly through sharing their knowledge and experiences. It meets the need for a formal structure to promote RAS development in a proactive way.

The Global Forum for Rural Advisory Services (GFRAS)

GFRAS takes up this task and provides a forum to bring together and promote interaction and learning among the diverse stakeholders involved in RAS. By working at different levels, GFRAS helps regional actors to present their perspectives in the global development arena, as well as providing a mechanism for global perspectives to reach the regional levels.

This two-way flow strengthens the role of advisory services in agricultural development with the goal of reducing hunger and poverty. GFRAS allows RAS providers and other organisations with an interest in RAS to have a voice, to engage in dialogue, and to promote a supportive environment for investment in RAS. GFRAS supports studies and evidence on effective RAS approaches and policies. It also strengthens the capacity of RAS practitioners through networking.

For Example: Global Good Practice Initiative

There is plenty of information available in the public domain that covers various aspects of extension and know-how about new methodologies for implementation.  However this information is often scattered and presented in complex academic language. Hence practitioners, who often have very limited time and/or may only have basic formal education, find it difficult to make use of this information.

The GFRAS Global Good Practices Initiative aims to bridge this gap by providing information about extension approaches and methods in easy-to-understand formats. As part of this effort, it makes “Good Practice Notes” available to all on a downloadable website.

Find out more about GFRAS on http://www.g-fras.org

Blog by: Lorenz Schwarz, Global Forum for Rural Advisory Services (GFRAS) Secretariat
Picture courtesy: Agricultural Extension in South Asia (AESA)

This blogpost is part of a series introducing GFAR stakeholders attending the upcoming GFAR Constituent Assembly.

The GFAR Constituent Assembly is held on 24-26 August 2015 in Bangkok, Thailand. For more information email the secretariat at GFAR-Assembly-2015@fao.org or call +39 06 570 53189


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