image copyThis position paper raises awareness of the roles of producer organisations in rural advisory services, and to contribute to discussions about how their effectiveness in these roles can be increased so that they contribute to improved livelihoods and poverty reduction. It is aimed at all actors involved  in the provision of rural advisory services, including  producer organisations themselves.

We argue that rural advisory services will contribute to improved rural livelihoods and poverty reduction  if they are demand-driven and pluralistic. Demand-orientation ensures that services meet the expressed needs of farmers. Pluralism – the co-existence of a variety of rural advisory service providers with specific comparative advantages – ensures that services can match the diversity of rural livelihoods.

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imageThe SDC face-to-face workshop ”Reaching the Millions!”, a 5-day learning event on Rural Advisory Services (RAS) in South and South-East Asia for members of the Agriculture and Food Security Network (A & FS), RAS experts, and representatives of private and public extension service providers. 
The workshop is hosted by the A&FS Network and organised by HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation in collaboration with the Global Forum for Rural Advisory Services (GFRAS) the Asia-Pacific Islands Network for Rural Advisory Services (APIRAS) and the Network for Agricultural Extension in South Asia (AESA).  More than 80% of the world’s 500 million small farms are situated in Asia. Alone China and India account for 150 million of farms with less than 2 ha land area. Among these smallholders, poverty is rife und more than ever the maxim „knowledge is power“ also applies to the agricultural sector. Against this backdrop, the effective and sustainable provision of knowledge and innovation to small-scale farmers in developing countries has long been and still remains a challenge.
The 5-day learning event offers a mix of expert inputs on innovations in Asian RAS initiatives, experience exchange and field exposers to private and public RAS providers in Vietnam.

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GFRAS is reviewing its strategic framework in 2015. In a first discussion round a group of specially invited stakeholders collected the needs and demands towards GFRAS and defined some activity fields for the future. In the next phase we would like to consult the results of this disucssion with all of you. Please go to the GFRAS Strategy Review Website, and give us your feedback on main elements for the new strategic framework.  

ienThe 2nd Meeting of Indian Extension Network (IEN) was held at ICAR-National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal, Haryana, India on 3rd February 2015. It was attended by 46 extension professionals coming from different academic, research & development organizations in India. The participants were briefed about GFRAS & AESA updates including the leaflets distributed about the activities of these networks. The issues concerning development of Agricultural extension discipline in India mostly dominated the discussions. The meeting was coordinated by Dr Mahesh Chander & P Chandrasekara-AESA focal points in India. The Coordinators requested Dr K. Narayangowda, Former Vice-chancellor, University of Agricultural Sciences, Bengaluru to conduct the proceedings of the meeting. The participants appreciated the initiative and offered a large number of suggestions for making extension & advisory services more effective. 

social media aesa blogThough Social Media applications can be effectively used by extension and advisory services, lack of awareness and skill about its use currently constrain its widespread use. Moreover the organisational culture within extension organisations also restricts exploitation of its full potential by extension professionals, argues Saravanan Raj and Suchiradipta Bhattacharjee in this AESA blog.