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Objectives

The GFRAS Annual Meeting has both a thematic component (focused on content) and a functional component (focused on network strengthening). After 5 years of existence, the GFRAS Annual Meeting 2015 symbolically focuses on the exchange, discussion, and identification of global good practices in rural advisory services – both with regard to content as well as with regard to network functioning.

icon pdf Concept Note (pdf 359KB)

The meeting’s objectives are the following

  • Participants gain new ideas and learn how to apply a wide range of approaches, methods, and instruments to improve rural advisory services.
  • Participants have a common understanding of salient features that render their work within rural advisory services more effective, inclusive, and sustainable.
  • RAS fora learn and know how to apply best fit methods and approaches to improve and strengthen their functioning.

Global Good Practices in Rural Advisory Services
(Thematic Component)

Worldwide, many different types and approaches of rural advisory services (RAS) have been elaborated and applied, with many promising innovations emerging. Programme implementers and policy makers often wonder which RAS approach is best, and would like a kind of recipe for RAS components and approaches for their programme. However, such formulaic approaches are not possible. RAS implementation must move from an approach of “best practice” to one of “best fit”, where the methods, structures, and governance fit local conditions (Birner et al. 2009).

Good practices in RAS can be defined as techniques, principles, or approaches used in RAS in a “best-fit” manner that apply the GFRAS principles and allow programmes to be more effective, efficient, and sustainable. The Global Good Practices (GGP) Initiative was initiated by GFRAS partners to provide a knowledge platform for practitioners, in which theoretical and practical know-how on extension and practical experiences are collected and systematised in an easily accessible and easy-to-understand form as a public good. It is aimed at field extension agents and managers.

It may lead to the commission and elaboration of new GFRAS Global Good Practices Notes.

Meeting Contents

The meeting is composed of different elements, each contributing to the meeting objectives in a different way, leading to diverse and rich learning experiences.

Parallel Workshops

Parallel Workshops

On Tuesday, 15 September, the following parallel workshops will take place for participants to exchange experiences regarding good practices on various topics. Further information will be continuously published on this site.

All topics

  • Gender in RAS practice: Challenges and ways forward
  • Using ICTs in RAS: Challenges and ways forward
  • Agricultural innovation systems and RAS practice: Challenges and ways forward
  • Professionalisation of RAS: Challenges and ways forward
  • Community-based RAS: Challenges and ways forward

Innovation Systems

Challenges and Ways Forward for RAS to Enhance EffectiveAgricultural Innovation Systems (AIS)

15 September 2015, 14:00 – 18:00
Moderated by Peter Schmid

 The workshop is a follow up session of the SDC face to face workshop “Reaching the Millions” that took place in Hanoi, in March 2015. The basis for the workshop is a Global Good Practice Note on Agricultural Innovation Systems, and the Hanoi statement – a bundle of learnings elaborated in the frame of the „Reaching the Millions“ learning event. 

The workshop will integrate different inputs to approach the subject and stimulate discussions on Agricultural Innovation Systems.

Objectives

  • To offer a theoretical and practical background on agricultural innovation systems through presentations and discussions of case studies and participants’ experiences 
  • To provide an introduction to the Hanoi statement on Rural Advisory Services with focus on agricultural innovation systems 
  • To jointly elaborate practical recommendations on how to strengthen agricultural innovation systems through RAS 

Expected outcome

A participatory developed set of recommendations and learning on how to strengthen agricultural innovation systems through RAS 

For more details and a prelimanry timetable see

icon pdf Workshop Agricultural Innovation Systems (pdf 301KB)

Gender in RAS

Gender in RAS Practice: Challenges and Ways Forward

Tuesday, 15 September 2015, 14:00 – 18:00
Moderated by Andrea Bohn

Short introduction to the workshop:

This session is highly interactive to demonstrate how gender is integrated into rural advisory services (RAS) practices. The session will be based on practical and field-based approaches to translate various theories into practices. We will have two separate presentations from the USAID-funded Farmer Advisory Services in Tajikistan (FAST) project. The first presentation will focus on sharing FAST Extension Services model which helped women household farmers access production technologies and extension services. Improved access to extension services helped women raise crop productivity on their household plots, and thus produce more and better crops and improve household nutrition and wellbeing.

The second presentation will focus on the results of the qualitative research conducted within FAST Project. The research was dedicated to producing evidence-based knowledge of what factors are causing gender inequalities in access to productive inputs and services hindering Tajik women’s participation in accessing and utilizing agricultural extension and rural advisory services. Findings of the study will be contributing to the drawing conclusions about the impact of the FAST program and will be used to develop effective programs to improve access of rural women to the Agricultural Extension and Rural Advisory Services. 

For more details and a prelimanry timetable see

icon pdf Gender in RAS Practice: Challenges and Ways Forward (pdf 310KB)

Using ICTs

Using ICTs in RAS: Challenges and Ways Forward 

Tuesday, 15 September 2015, 14:00 – 18:00
Moderated by Saravanan Raj

Short introduction to the workshop:

Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), over the past three decades, have been an important part of rural advisory services (RAS) and have given needed impetus and opportunities to agricultural and rural development. Dialogues in development don’t anymore concern about the importance of ICTs but about the ways to best use them to tap into their potential. And this has been possible because of the tremendous increase in ICT usage worldwide – mobile subscriptions have been up to 7 billion from 738 million in 2000, internet usage have been up seven folds and of the 3.2 billion users worldwide, 2 billion comes from developing countries. Telecommunication and internet have supported a large number of ICT based agriculture and rural development projects in developing countries across the globe and more and more farmers are taking up communication technology to access the needed information on a daily basis. But inspite of these increased acceptance, experts and practitioners worldwide are still struggling to find a cure for ‘pilotitis’ of ICT projects and making them sustainable for the long run. The greatest advantages of ICTs are the high number of applications and devices and the flexibility they provide in information sharing. Radio and TV have been in rural setting for a very long time and digital videos, web portals, expert systems, decision support systems, farmers call centres, mobile phones and social media have the ability to cater to a very diverse group of agricultural stakeholders. ICTs do not target only farmers but the whole spectrum of actors in agricultural innovation systems (AIS), bringing them on the same platform and making dialogue for development efficient and fruitful. Moreover, the functions of ICTs go beyond information sharing to capacity development of extensionists, farmers, entrepreneurs and other stakeholders in AIS. But in spite of the numerous advantages, few ICT projects have been scaled up to sustainable in the long run. 

For more details and a prelimanry timetable see

icon pdf Using ICTs in RAS: Challenges and Ways Forward (pdf 318KB)

Professionalisation

Opportunities for Skill Development and Professionalisation of RAS

Tuesday, 15 September 2015, 14:00 – 18:00
Moderated by Hlamalani Ngwenya

Short introduction to the workshop:

The critical role that extension and advisory services play remains unchallenged. However, with the changes in the global agricultural landscape and the complexities of challenges, there is an increasing demand for the transformation of RAS practices to meet these challenges. This requires equipping RAS professionals with relevant skills and professionalisation of their practices to ensure minimum standards and the credibility of service delivery.

This workshop creates a platform for sharing on-going initiatives in RAS skills development and professionalisation of RAS in Latin America, Europe and Africa. 

For more details and a prelimanry timetable see

icon pdf Opportunities for Skill Development and Professionalisation of RAS (pdf 302KB)

Community-based RAS

Community-based RAS: Challenges and Ways Forward

Tuesday, 15 September 2015, 14:00 – 18:00
Moderated by Mona Dhamankar

Short introduction to the workshop:

In a pluralistic extension system, farmers source information from different service providers depending on their needs, accessibility and reliability. They are often seen turning to their fellow farmers for advice and information, as the first point of contact. Farmers have a lot of experiential knowledge based on their traditional practices. Community-based RAS is a way to build on farmer’s knowledge and enhance it with modern technical knowledge in order to make it wholesome. Based on experiences of different ways of involving farmers in providing advisory services, this workshop aims to re-assess the value of this modality of service provision, address the challenges, how they can complement other service providers and gain insights into how to make these services self-sustaining revenue models.

For more details and a prelimanry timetable see

icon pdf Community-based RAS: Challenges and Ways Forward (pdf 312KB)

Open Space

Open Space on Emerging Topics in RAS

The Open Space session will take place on Wednesday morning, 15 September, and provide an opportunity for exchange on a topic that really matters to you! The Open Space Technology is a way of convening inspired meetings and events. Starting from an overall theme and following a few simple principles, the participants suggest topics, jointly create the agenda and engage in discussions that are of importance to them.

What emerging topics do you face in your RAS practice? On which issues do you long for more exchange? GFRAS invites you to take the lead, to find like-minded people and to start discussions in this Open Space. Possibly even new GGP notes could emerge out these discussions?

Field Trips

Field Trips

On 16 September you will have the possibility to participate in a field trip. The field trips will give you the opportunity to get to know activities of various advisory service providers and give you a glimpse of the farming systems in Issyk Kul.

You have the choice between a full-day field trip, or the participation in the open space discussion in the morning with a half-day field trip in the afternoon. In the logistic form on the GFRAS website, you are required to indicate which option you prefer, so we can plan the field trips accordingly. To facilitate your choice, we provide you here with an overview of the different field trip options.

The final registration for the field trips by participants will take place on 14/15 September at the Annual Meeting.

Some of the visits are only possible with a full day trip, while others are half-day trips that can be combined into full day trips, if there is more demand for full day trips.

We selected the field trip locations according to where you can experience the work of different RAS players in Issyk Kul and at the same time learn about different key aspects of the farming system of the mountainous regions of Kyrgyzstan.

RAS System in Kyrgyzstan

The rural advisory service system in Kyrgyzstan is fairly pluralistic, but – in the absence of public investment in advisory services – to a large extent dependent on donor financing. The core of the RAS system consists of around 20 local non-governmental organisations. Around two thirds of them are specialised in advisory service provision, the others are engaging in RAS as one aspect within a broader portfolio of development support activities. Apart from these RAS providers, a range of individual consultants, and, to a very limited extent, the district agricultural departments and agricultural specialists in the local administration are providing advisory services.

The core RAS providers struggle with finding ways to reduce donor dependence and get regular payment for their services from local sources. On the other hand, international and donor organisations rely to a large extent on these RAS providers to implement agricultural and rural development activities.

Field Trip Options

Meat value chain (full day)

We will get to know a cooperation between Reyna Kench, a large farm that established a meat processing unit, and the Training and Extension System (TES) Centre. TES Centre is a specialised, non-governmental RAS provider that was established in 1997 with support by GIZ. In this case, TES Centre is paid by Reyna Kench for its work with supplier farmers to improve management of the animals and ensure adequate meat quality. Participants will be able to discuss the role of private sector actors in introducing innovations, and the funding strategies of TES Center and its implications for the stakeholders involved.

Pasture management (full day)

Kyrgyzstan is a livestock country and livestock farming contributes to nearly 50% of the agricultural GDP. Natural pastures play a key role in the livestock system; however, many of them are severely degraded. 5 years ago, a community-based pasture management system was gradually introduced in the whole country. We will visit a Pasture Management Committee and farmers, look at the different types of pastures and visit summer pastures in the nearby mountains (although animals and yurts will already have moved away in mid-September). The field trip will provide the participants with insights into a community-based model of RAS support, and its implications, challenges, and chances for involved stakeholders.

Dairy value chain (full day)

We will visit the cheese factory Siut Bulak (Dairy Spring) established nearly 20 years ago with Swiss government support, and get to know their system of milk collection, the milk suppliers, the various approaches to train and consult the milk suppliers, and the struggles of the cheese factory to get the required quality and quantity of milk. On the way, we will visit a farmer who keeps Simmental cattle, a specific cattle species from Switzerland that was introduced to the region. The participants will be able to discuss the challenges of devising an effective and financially viable advisory model for the link between supplier farmers and a medium-scale private sector processing enterprise.

Potato value chain (full day)

Potato is a key cash crop in Issyk Kul. Participants will get to know various actors and their linkages along the whole value chain, including farmer groups getting advisory support by Agro Lead, one of the specialised non-governmental RAS providers in improving potato production; farmers multiplying improved potato seeds; a cooperative engaging in potato marketing, and possibly also a seed potato farm. We will talk about the different advisory service support efforts in the potato value chain, the difficulties of changing farmer’s attitudes and the challenges of marketing the potatoes at a satisfactory price.

Irrigation management (1/2 day)

We will visit an advanced Water User Association (WUA) that has introduced water measuring and volume-based payment for irrigation water. It also engaged in the union of several neighboring WUAs into a WUA federation. We will talk with the WUA staff, member farmers and see key points in the improved irrigation infrastructure. We will learn about the RAS models for irrigation management in Kyrgyzstan.

Fruit farming - technology supply combined with individual consultations (1/2 day)

We will visit two farmers who planted new fruit orchards and installed a drip irrigation system on arid lands, which are essentially desert, and can be used for farming only with this technology that is not (yet) widely used in Kyrgyzstan. These farmers are getting consultations from an individual irrigation specialist cum drip equipment dealer. We will get to know a RAS model that is based entirely on private commercial actors and provides advisory services linked to supply of means of production.

Berry farming (1/2 day)

Berry production for the market is a rather uncommon business in Issyk Kul, although berries are traditionally widely grown in home gardens. The project Karagat+ supports farmers in a range of villages to cultivate black currant and other berries as a cash crop. We will visit berry farmers, discuss the marketing options, and meet with the staff of the local non-governmental RAS provider AVEP. AVEP combines the provision of technical with business advice, as well as investment and marketing support. The participants will be able to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of complex service packages in promoting innovation and the challenge of disseminating such innovations to a wider range of farmers if their introduction, as in this case, is supported by heavy external financing.

Women’s economic advance (1/2 day)

We will visit several Women’s Self-Help Groups (SHGs) that engage in various ways of improvement of the profitability of farming with support by the Agency of Development Initiatives (ADI). ADI also facilitates the establishment of village funds which allow access to improved seeds and other investments into agricultural improvements. We will talk with activists and members of women SHGs on the impact of RAS on their livelihoods and the types of RAS that are necessary for such successes.

Organic village (1/2 day)

The Federation of Organic Movements in Kyrgyzstan (Bio KG) has, with support from the Netherlands, started to develop organic villages. One such organic village is near the venue of the GFRAS Annual Meeting. Although the change process has only just started, meeting with the involved stakeholders in the village and of Bio KG guarantees for interesting discussions on how to promote complex innovations such as the transition to organic farming on a large scale and the role of RAS in such a change processes.

Short Presentations & Share Fair

Short Presentations, Share Fair and Creative Inputs

In the coming weeks and as soon as we receive confirmation from the input providers, relevant information (input types, titles, contact details of input providers), will be published here.

Side Events

In the coming weeks and as soon as we receive confirmation from the side event organisers, relevant information about the different side events will be published on this site. Don’t forget to check it regularly.            

   Date      Time      Side Event  

Social Media for Agricultural Extension and Advisory Services

14 September  

and

18 September

8.00 – 15.00  

and

8.00 – 10.00

Organised by the GFRAS Interest Group on ICT4RAS, moderated by Saravanan Raj, Lorenz Schwarz
For the full description and objectives of this side event, please see

 icon pdf Side Event Social Media (pdf 220KB)

To register for the side event, please send a message to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and copy This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  

Strategic planning meeting for the GFRAS Consortium for Extension Education and Training

14 September 8:00 – 12:00'

Organised by the GFRAS Consortium on Extension Education and Training, moderated by Hlamalani Ngwenya
For the full description and objectives of this side event, please see

icon pdf Strategic planning meeting for the GFRAS Consortium for Extension Education and Training (pdf 271KB)

Invited participants only; if you have particular interest to attend and have not been invited please contact Ms. Hlamalani Ngwenya, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Integrating Gender and Nutrition into Rural Advisory Services -Learning from Good Practices

14 September 8:00 – 15:00 

Organised by INGENAES (USAID-funded Integration of Gender and Nutrition within Agricultural Extension Services project) and GFRAS, moderated by Nargiza Ludgate
For the full description and objectives of this side event, please see

icon pdf Integrating Gender and Nutrition into RAS (pdf 294KB)

If you are interested in participating, please register via email to: Nargiza Ludgate at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by August 26th, 2015. Your participation will be confirmed within a day. 

Participants will be registered on first come, first serve basis.

Experience Capitalisation in Pastoralism – Approach, intermediate results, and what about your experience?

18 September 8.00 – 10.30  

Organised and moderated by Ernst Bolliger, EB Consult. For the full description and objectives of this side event, please see

icon pdf Side Event Experience Capitalisation in Pastoralism (pdf 205KB)

To register for the side event, please send a message to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with the subject line "GFRAS AM - SE Pastoralism". 

How to Harness the Power of Extension to Improve Household and Community Nutrition Outcomes

18 September

11:00 – 13:00 
  

Organised by MEAS and GFRAS, moderated by Andrea Bohn and Nargiza Ludgate
For the full description and objectives of this side event, please see

icon pdf How to Harness the Power of Extension to Improve Household and Community Nutrition Outcomes (pdf 310KB)

For further information and registration please contact: Andrea Bohn, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Strengthening RAS Actors for Advocacy and Dialogue on Policy Reform and Action

18 September 8:00 - 17:00

Organised by MEAS and GFRAS, moderated by Austen Moore (MEAS) and Hlamalani Ngwenya (GFRAS Consultant)

For the full description and objectives of this side event, please see:

icon pdf Strengthening RAS Actors for Advocacy and Dialogue on Policy Reform and Action (pdf 321KB)

All registered participants will receive an email explaining the registration procedure. Hlamalani Ngwenya This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Austen Moore This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Central Asian and the Caucasus Regional Rural Advisory Services Network 

18 September 08:00 _ 12:00  
  

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