"The trouble with hello is goodbye", Brazilian samba and bossa nova singer Astrud Gilberto once said.
For delegates who attended the 3rd GFRAS meeting, co-hosted with Asia-Pacific Islands Advisory Services Network (APIRAS) from 26-26 Sept. 2012, it was not a sad farewell but a celebration of effective networking and a confirmation that those who have met before shall meet again.
"Here at GFRAS we are saying so long, somewhere, somehow we will meet again," APIRAS chair, Virginia Cardenas summed up the mood at the closing ceremony of the annual meeting which brought together 170 participants from more than 50 countries. The three day meeting in Manila, Philippines, had the theme 'The role of Advisory Services in Agricultural Extension System'.
Blending both discussions, side events, a fair share exhibition, presentations and break away groups, the meeting offered an opportunity to interrogate the broad areas of extension advisory services. In addition, delegates focused on how to strengthen existing and develop potential RAS networks around the world.
In thanking delegates for fruitful deliberations, GFRAS Executive Secretary, Kristin Davis, underlined GFRAS's commitment to engaging all RAS stakeholders to ensure the efficient delivery of RAS effectively contributed to reducing global hunger and poverty in the face of an array of global challenges from climate change, underfunding to policy gaps. She told delegates that the global forum is taking seriously all the recommendations made to GFRAS some of which included improving network engagement, developing business models which will facilitate financing support for extension services, advocacy, policy strategy promoting the role of government and private sector in terms of financing options.
For delegates like Kuldip Ragnauth, from Gayana who was attending the meeting for the first time, GFRAS was an eye opener. Previously because he did not know what the global forum was all about, but leaves a changed RAS provider.
Another first timer, Joomartbek Jumabekov, the manager of PF'Chui-Talas Rural Advisory Servise' in Kyrgyz Republic, attending GFRAS was a home coming as the meeting enabled him to share new thinking on RAS and how to develop the RAS network in his home country.
While for the coordinator of the of AFAAS, Max Olupot, the meeting presented an excellent opportunity for networking. He said the meeting put the spotlight on the need to bring in more farmers and their organizations as participants and thereby giving them a voice on issues that touch their livelihoods.
"As a woman being able to attend the meeting was a huge accomplishment considering that it is the opening of opportunities for the training of women farmers and the youth of which I am in charge of. This is a great opportunity for women," said Victorine Mbombo of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where she is the President of the Solidarite pour l'encadrement de vieillards et le develop-pement durable (SEVD).
Director of the The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), Gil Saguiguit, in the final closing remarks at the 3rd GFRAS, emphasized that RAS has a key role to play in addressing emerging and continuing challenges to ensure global food security.