The GFRAS mission is to provide a space for advocacy and leadership by a variety of stakeholders on pluralistic, demand-driven rural advisory services within the global development agenda. GFRAS plays a catalysing role, promoting and stimulating interactions between and within the global policy level and the regional and national levels. This space allows regional actors to present their perspectives in global development forums and processes. Similarly, it provides a mechanism for interaction and dialogue between the global and the regional levels. This two-way flow should lead to a strengthened role of advisory services within the broader agricultural development arena.
To its vision and mission, GFRAS focuses on two target stakeholder groups:
- The RAS community institutions working directly in RAS from the public, private, and civil society sectors. GFRAS fosters leadership, particularly at the regional and national level of the RAS community, by providing a forum for stakeholders to interact to strengthen individual, organisational, and institutional capabilities in RAS. Moreover, the forum supports the development and synthesis of approaches and policies that improve RAS and help the RAS community to better advocate.
- The international development institutions involved in rural development (institutions that need to work more effectively with RAS to achieve overall rural development goals). GFRAS provides a space for RAS advocacy efforts primarily at the global and policy level. Through the GFRAS space, stakeholders can help to provide a voice, enable dialogue, and promote a supportive environment for investment in RAS.
The mission can only be achieved if these target stakeholder groups develop more appropriate, sustainable, and effective policies, practices, and approaches. This constitutes a change in behaviour that GFRAS seeks to achieve through its functions and activities.
Several partners support or have supported GFRAS financially including: the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF):
- Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA)
- Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)
- European Commission (EC), through the Global Forum for Agricultural Research (GFAR)
- International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)
- CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions, and Markets (PIM)
- Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)
- United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through Feed the Future
The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and the Swiss Association for the Development of Agriculture and Rural Areas (Agridea) provide staff. Agridea hosts the GFRAS secretariat.
GFRAS evolved out of a series of discussions at international meetings (primarily the annual meetings of the Neuchâtel Initiative) over several years where the need for a formal structure to more pro-actively promote RAS development was recognised and various options were considered. It has also been long recognised that similar structures are needed at regional levels to provide direct support to country-level advisory service actors. The African Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services (AFAAS) has been created to meet this need and is partnering with GFRAS in Africa.