Research & Extension

FAO and GFRAS strengthen ties with Memorandum of Understanding

FAO and the Global Forum for rural advisory Services (GFRAS) are further enhancing their collaboration by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that will provide an institutionalized framework for their joint efforts.

The memorandum, signed in Rome on February 19, will allow both organizations to strengthen their ties with the goal of seeing rural advisory services (RAS) effectively contribute to the sustainable increase of agricultural productivity and the eradication of hunger and poverty . The agreement took place when international development institutions and investors are increasingly recognizing the essential role of RAS in reducing hunger and poverty. “Both, GFRAS and FAO, promote pluralistic and demand-led advisory systems in an innovation system concept framework  and  provide advocacy and leadership on policies, strategies, and capacity development in order to achieve relevant, efficient and effective advisory services”,  stated Andrea Sonnino, Chief of FAO's Research and Extension Unit, during his speech at the signing ceremony. “Our joint vision is to see rural advisory services effectively contributing to the sustainable increase of agricultural productivity and to contribute to the eradication of hunger and poverty worldwide. The MoU provides the framework to translate this vision into action”.

GFRAS provides a forum to bring together and promote interaction and learning among the diverse stakeholders involved in rural advisory services (RAS), also called extension. It is based in Switzerland and hosted by the Swiss Association for the Development of Agriculture and Rural Areas (Agridea) since its creation in 2010. 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.

After the decline of RAS during the late 80s and the 90s, we are now in a period of renewal of advisory systems and increased support to them. This is not only linked to the food crises in 2007-2008, but is also an outcome of the advocacy and efforts undertaken by GFRAS and FAO. It also fits well to the International Year of Family Farming IYFF which sets the focus on the men and women family farmers who have the biggest share in the worldwide food production. The setting up of regional networks of RAS by GFRAS has given a voice and a way to reach the farmers and respond to their needs. FAO has been a founding member of GFRAS and is committed to continue its support for strengthening rural advisory services and their networks at national, regional and global level.