Accountability for actions, GFAR blog

The Voices of GFAR: Messages from the new Steering Committee


From “difficult” to “promising”. From “getting there” to “much further forward”. From “encouraging” to “rejuvenating with an exclamation mark!”!

When the members of the renewed GFAR Steering Committee were asked to describe their experience on day 1 and then again on day 2 of the recent GFAR Steering Committee meeting, these are some of the adjectives they used. With such a dynamic agenda and diverse group representing all sectors in agriculture and food, it’s no wonder their enthusiasm grew! Read more and listen to the messages some of them had to share as they stepped into their new roles!

During a highly interactive two days, members of the renewed GFAR Steering Committee came together to set out a new agenda for the unique multi-stakeholder global forum on agri-food research and innovation. Held at FAO Headquarters in Rome on 8-9 February, this was far from a typical governance meeting. It challenged any pre-conceived notions the members may have had about what it means to work together to achieve sustainable development. Here, they were encouraged to “think beyond the room”.

In workshop style, members engaged in group exercises to learn from and report back to one another. They shared best practices for engaging with the constituencies they represent. They brainstormed practical ways to lead and facilitate Partners’ work on the major areas of action they envisage for GFAR in the years ahead.

In short, the SC members took off their own institutional hats to put on their GFAR ones; they began to think of themselves as being GFAR, rather than just part of it. At times they found it challenging. But it gave them new perspective.

gfar-sc-collage-2Indeed, this was “business unusual” as Prof Agnes Mwang’ombe called it, who represents Higher Education at the local level. In all, 34 members now represent 13 GFAR constituencies in the renewed Steering Committee; 14 of these members are newly elected and bring in the voices of Partners in GFAR at the local level.

GFAR is the mechanism to join efforts and build bridges, for research and communities to work together. -Ren Wang, FAO

Now, the members of the Steering Committee will act on their commitment to catalyze the Partners in GFAR to mobilize around key collective actions. Whether at national, regional or international level, these collective actions will engage three or more Partners and put farmers and producers at the center. The key areas of focus they agreed to address in their next GFAR Medium-Term-Plan, and their ideas on the forms of partnership and means of communication needed for collective action and advocacy in these focal areas, can be found in the summary of key points that the SC members will share with their constituencies.

We wanted to get the members’ own views on the value they see in working together towards the shared goals of GFAR, as well as the what and how we’ll need to get there. Watch these video interviews to find out what they had to say:

Keron Bascombe is the representative of the Youth Constituency at the local level. Keron stresses the need to overcome the limitations that smaller organizations can face by joining together in the larger networks of GFAR. Keron strongly believes that in order to engage in collective actions, we all must ensure that research and innovation are driven by the demand of those at the grassroots level of agriculture, especially the youth.

In this interview with Ms. Agnes Mwang’ombe of the University of Nairobi, we learn why she thinks business as usual is not going to adequately equip students in agricultural and life sciences for the 21st Century. Agnes shares with us how she plans to help Partners in her constituency engage in collective actions with an aim to reform curricula to meet today’s challenges.

Mr. Nana Osei Bonsu of Private Enterprise Federation, Ghana, who represents Private Sector at the local level, brings a business perspective to the dialogue, reminding that farmers need to be enabled to make their work profitable and scalable. His takeaway message is that “collaboration is key” if we are to effectively share our knowledge of what works and what needs to be improved in agriculture and food systems.

Ms. Rula Al-Khateeb of the Palestinian Farmers’ Union  represents Farmer and Agricultural Workers at the local level in the GFAR Steering Committee. Rula shares with us the particular challenges in her region of the world and how she sees involvement in GFAR as a clear way to improve the productivity and livelihoods of farmers.

To watch interviews with other Steering Committee members, check out the GFAR YouTube Channel.

Click here to learn more about GFAR’s new governance and to find the key messages from the SC in your language. 

Post by Charles Plummer, GFAR Social Media Administrator

Video editing by Keron Bascombe, Creator, Tech4Agri & Representative of Youth, GFAR Steering Committee

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