Berlin, September 2013

Press Release

Modern Rural Advisory Services for Smallholders Help Achieve Global Food and Nutritional Security

In view of estimated population growth, by 2050 the world must produce 70% more food than today, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). To achieve this we need productivity increases that cannot come from technology alone. An important function in these changes is attributed to rural advisory services. The annual meeting of the Global Forum for Rural Advisory Services (GFRAS), taking place 24-26 September in Berlin, Germany, gathers stakeholders in this field from around the world to exchange experiences and discuss new approaches.

A recent report of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) on the state of the planet’s land resources concludes that the worlds’ food production must rise by 70% to feed the projected population in the year 2050. Most of the available farmland is already farmed, and about a quarter of that land is already degraded by erosion and water mismanagement.

To produce more food an increase in productivity is needed that is sustainable and meets the challenges of climate change. This is not possible through the adoption of new technologies alone. Smallholder farmers, who have very limited or no access to technology, produce 80% of the world’s food. In addition, supportive institutions and infrastructure such as markets, transportation systems, and credit and insurance are critical for productivity.

In this context rural advisory services play a key role. Advisors have direct contact with farmers and their families and can advise, instruct, and support them to improve their livelihoods. The modern advisor does not just bring new technologies to the farmer, he or she assesses together with the farmer or the whole village the situation and develops and implements solutions. Hence the measures taken are suitable to local conditions, sustainable, and adaptable for further development.

The Global Forum for Rural Advisory Services (GFRAS) aims to promote the often-neglected rural advisory services throughout the world. It stands for an approach that takes the needs of the farmers into account and includes them in the development and implementation of rural development goals. GFRAS assembles stakeholders from all over the world: governmental and non-governmental institutions, development agencies, private enterprises, farmer representatives, and producer organisations.

The GFRAS Annual Meeting 2013 takes place in Berlin, Germany, and gathers all those stakeholders to exchange experiences and discuss new approaches. This year’s event specifically focuses on the role that private enterprises and producer organisations play within rural advisory services. The event is hosted by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationel Zusammenarbeit GIZ and supported by the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development BMZ as well as the International Akademie land- und hauswirtschaftlicher Berater und Beraterinnen IALB.

India - the Kerala Horticulture Development Programme

Farmers’ organisations can provide knowledge and learning for farmers, while also providing add-on services for marketing. These multiply the positive impacts of education and help ensure farmers have an outlet for their improved production. Created in 1992, the Kerala Horticultural Development Programme aimed to improve the lives of Kerala’s fruit and vegetable farmers by increasing and stabilizing their incomes, reducing production costs, and improving their marketing systems. The programme worked with fruit and vegetable farmers to promote self-help groups. It trained three farmers from each group to become master farmers who were competent in crop production, credit, and marketing. It promoted the concept of credit to farmers who leased land, promoted group marketing, and established modern seed processing and fruit processing plants. To generate and access locally relevant technical knowledge, the programme began research with a local agricultural university, which strengthened the skills of farmers in participatory technology development. 6,800 self-help groups (of which 405 are run by women) were formed. They reached more than 132,000 farmers.

You can find more information at the conference webpage.

More information about GFRAS

Or contact

Lorenz Schwarz
Communications Officer GFRAS
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Mobile: +41 76 375 14 14

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