GFRAS, MEAS, NIFA Symposium


“Mobilizing Extension and Advisory Services to Improve Food Security 

and the Livelihoods of the Rural Poor”

How can GFRAS and its members, MEAS, USDA/NIFA,
USAID, the World Bank, INGOs, and IFPRI jointly support this?

on April 17, 2013 from 8:30 am – 12:30 pm in Room 3109, South Building, USDA, Washington DC



The Global Forum for Rural Advisory Services (GFRAS), Mobilizing Extension and Advisory Services (MEAS), and USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) co-hosted a seminar and e-discussion on how to mobilize the potential of extension and advisory services (EAS) on April 17, 2013, in Washington, DC, USA.

[The original agenda, summary report, and presentations are available for download below]

The objectives of the pre-meeting electronic discussion and the seminar were to:
  • Highlight the shared interest and expertise in extension and advisory services among the invited institutions 
  • Take stock of remaining gaps/needs to strengthen/mobilize EAS 
  • Agree on how to better coordinate and work collectively to achieve synergies in the various initiatives and opportunities 

The seminar consisted of two panel presentations and time for group discussion to answer the question. Panel A discussion presented the needs on the ground from a regional and programmatic standpoint, and also summarized the e-discussion. Silim Nahdy from AFAAS talked about the “big three” of capacity, sustainable financing, and policy. Andrea Bohn talked about extension programs that work and MEAS assessments in various countries. Kristin Davis summarized the previous week’s e-discussion, saying that there were many (pluralistic) approaches but that basically EAS was evolving to provide diverse set of functions that support livelihoods and offer relevant technologies and information integrated with appropriate services.


Panel B presented some responses to the needs from the private sector and donor perspective. Suzanne Poland from USAID mentioned the need for better coordination between research and EAS so that new technologies reach the farmer (and other value chain actors) sooner and the pipeline of technologies in development are responsive to farmer feedback. Clint Cuny from Techno Brain LLC discussed the need for sustainability and monitoring & evaluation. T.J. Ryan from ACDI/VOCA talked about successful FFS implementation include effective communication, state of the art technical information, validating farmer knowledge, the on-farm agro-ecosystem analysis. Greg Crosby from USDA spoke about the lack of a general business case and justification for EAS that cross cuts sectors such as agriculture, health and science, and technology policy within most countries that might be expressed in terms of smallholder rural development, profitability, trade, and even health. He mentioned that one way to increase the mobilization of EAS within countries might be to identify regional (i.e. South Asia, Africa) knowledge sharing centers equipped to blend face to face and virtual training for countries within a region. 

Small groups then discussed how this group of participants, working in a more coordinated way, could respond to the obstacles mentioned in Panel A. Suggestions included the following:
  • Use clearing houses and establish centers of excellence 
  • Make use of communities of practice 
  • Have mentoring programs 
  • Use rosters of experts (e.g., GFRAS; Agrilinks, WEN) 
  • Expand and enrich the GFRAS directory of EAS providers – the directory of who is who in the world of extension 
  • Produce thematic resources and good practice guides (e.g. “Farmer field schools for Dummies”) 
  • Produce and promote evidence of impact of EAS 
  • Provide guidance on how to influence policy 
  • Create and promote profiles and skills of the “new” extensionists 
  • Involve North America in GFRAS membership 
  • Rally around a common vision (e.g. “Global Extension 2050”)

 "One strand of a broom is easy to break, but put in a bunch, it is hard to break”

(African Proverb)

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Andrea Bohn,
May 14, 2013, 8:30 AM
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Andrea Bohn,
May 17, 2013, 4:23 AM
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Andrea Bohn,
May 14, 2013, 8:30 AM
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Andrea Bohn,
May 14, 2013, 8:30 AM