Kristin Davis, seconded from the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) to the Global Forum for Rural Advisory Services (GFRAS), is in Punta del Este for GCARD 2012 this week with delegates from the advisory services community to promote the idea of the “new extensionist.”
What is a “new extensionist,” you might ask? As she explains, it is not a superman (or woman!) but a vision of new roles, strategies, and capacities to reduce hunger and poverty through strengthening rural advisory services – the activities that provide the information and capacities needed by farmers, their families, and other stakeholders in rural settings to respond to existing and new challenges and to improve their livelihoods.
Today’s challenges of food price crises, natural resource depletion, changing and uncertain markets, environmental degradation, and climate change require an agricultural innovation systems perspective, with a view of all of the different actors who contribute to development, their actions, and their interaction. This in turn requires strengthening knowledge and advisory systems.
Thus, the vision of a “new extensionist.”
Strengthening knowledge and advisory systems requires enhancing capacities at individual, organisational, and system levels. According to Davis, this is a major challenge that is currently underestimated, and must be met to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and future Sustainable Development Goals.
Luckily, a major priority area for GCARD 2012 is to “develop the required human and institutional capacities for generation, access and effective use of agricultural knowledge in development.” GFRAS is leading a session today at GCARD2 specifically to formulate actions and partnerships to address this capacity strengthening challenge, based on the “new extensionist” concept.
They will also present this concept in a background report, and have a briefing paper available for discussion during the session. The paper discusses the role of advisory services within agricultural innovation systems, the importance of enhanced capacities for better performance at the individual, organizational, and enabling environment levels, the constraints and roles of actors at national, regional, and global levels, and recommendations for action and partnerships to strengthen capacities and the role of advisory systems at all levels.
The “new extensionist” concept has undergone a peer review, global electronic consultation, and validation exercise at the GFRAS annual meeting. At GCARD, the goal is to validate the recommendations and define the next steps, in alignment
with the GCARD Roadmap.
Blogpost by Marcia MacNeil (IFPRI) with contributions from Kristin Davis.