Rural Advisory Services and Empowered Youth for Balanced Transformation in Rural and Urban Communities

The 8th Annual Meeting of the Global Forum for Rural Advisory Services (GFRAS)  took place from 10-13 September 2017 in Ingham and Townsville, Australia, with side events on 8 and 9 September. The topic was Rural Advisory Services and empowered youth for balanced transformation in rural and urban communities. It was co-organised with the Australasia-Pacific Extension Network (APEN) and included a partial overlap with APEN’s International Conference, which will take place from 13-15 September on the topic of Facilitating balanced change for rural and urban communities. 

Meeting objectives

The four interrelated objectives of the meeting were:

  1. to identify and discuss roles, challenges and opportunities for youth to be meaningful actors in balanced and inclusive rural and urban transformation
  2. to identify and discuss the roles and relations between RAS and youth for inclusive and sustainable rural-urban linkages;
  3. to identify and discuss changes in policies and the capacities of RAS needed for both RAS and youth to fulfil their roles; and
  4. to strengthen capacities of RAS networks through peer exchange and learning.

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   icon pdf Programme (pdf 293KB)

   icon pdf Participants List (pdf 172KB)

   icon pdf Evaluation (pdf 374KB) 

   icon pdf Meeting Guide (pdf 2.5MB)

8GAM group photo

   icon pdf Meeting Report (pdf 813KB)

Conclusions and Recommendations

Two main conclusions emerged from the Annual Meeting:

Make agriculture cool again: It is necessary to work on different levels and with different approaches to make the agricultural sector competitive and attractive again to youth, and to ensure that opportunities in agriculture (that go beyond farming) are effectively communicated and promoted. Tailored practical education and training from early life are critical.

Work with youth as drivers for change: It is important to work with youth and not for youth, and to appreciate young people as equally valuable and respected contributors to processes. Too often, youth are not recognised as a valuable pool of experience, knowledge, skills, motivation and engagement that can help address contemporary challenges. However, this implies a change in values that needs to be fully embraced at all levels.

Concretely, the following recommendations were made by participants:

  • Every effort need to be made to ensure that agriculture is perceived as valuable, competitive and attractive sector for youth;
  • There is a need to develop more holistic, yet context-specific approaches that take into account the whole value chain or agricultural sub-sector, but also the different needs and demands of the youth;
  • Youth need to be understood as clients, rather than as beneficiaries, and tools and approaches adapted accordingly;
  • RAS need new specific technical and functional capacities to meet the demands of youth;
  • RAS needs to evolve from service providers to facilitators of access to services and service provision;
  • Professionalisation of RAS can have a positive impact on the capacity to address many challenges in agriculture related to youth, RAS, and rural-urban migration;
  • More appropriate, practice-oriented training and education opportunities for youth in agriculture are needed;
  • Organisations and policies need to move beyond project approaches and examine the possibility of holistic and systemic approaches;
  • Youth can and need to be involved as valuable, respected, and accepted actors and contributors at all levels in processes related to agriculture;
  • Youth have great potential to support RAS in addressing challenges;
  • There needs to be greater government support for rural infrastructure development, provision of social and recreational facilities, communications and internet connectivity and market access to attract and encourage decent living in rural areas for youth.
  • Regional RAS networks and country fora can play critical roles in promoting better coordination of efforts across different stakeholders that provide youth with access to information, services and people.