The GFRAS scoping study shows that a specific legal body or structure specifically responsible for establishing and upholding professional standards, including respective by-laws, is crucial for RAS to follow the path towards professionalism in a specific country. Depending on the country and region, this legal body or structure could be a government, private sector, learning, or non-governmental organisation or institution that is legitimate and recognised. The responsibility should include defining the minimum standard, levels of registration, code of ethics and by-laws, and CPD, among others. The roles of the regional RAS networks and country forums as pluralistic and multi-stakeholder platforms need to be considered as they can provide a neutral, unbiased platform for discussion and exchange. Ideally, the legal body or structure should collaborate very closely with country forums or regional networks.
Evidence of impacts, sustainability, and scalability
The move towards professionalism of RAS and related standard qualifications has only recently begun to gain momentum, although the need has been stated in the literature since 2005. At the time of the GFRAS scoping study, 37 countries (the majority of which are in the EU) had professionalised RAS; 15 countries were in the process of professionalisation; and 21 aspired to become more professional. This signifies a strong need and demand for RAS to attain a professional level similar to that of other agricultural disciplines. In the case of South Africa, professionalisation of RAS has provided space to negotiate minimum wages as well as incentives for CPD, as it is required to maintain professional status. Countries that are in the process of professionalisation can draw lessons from these experiences.