Wednesday, 23 September 2009

15th Annual Meeting of the Neuchâtel Initiative

18 - 22 September 2009. The 15th Annual meeting of the Neuchâtel Initiative (NI) was held near Assisi, Italy.

The meeting was organized by the Research and Extension Division of the FAO. The Objectives of the NI meeting were:
  • Review the process of the MOAAS proposal
  • Review the role and coordination needs in extension to deliver development impacts at scale in the new framework of Agricultural Research and Development (input to GCARD, March 2010
  • Evolution of NI: Towards a Global Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services (GFAAS)
  • Elaborate a joint program for 2010
  • Exchange, learn and network A preparatory meeting took place in Steinfurth/Germany on 23 and 24 July 2009 to discuss a renewed international effort to promote a global think tank for agricultural advisory services (AAS).

Following organizations were involved: African Forum of Agricultural advisory Services (AFAAS), Swiss Association for the Development of Agriculture and Rural Areas Agridea, Danish Agricultural Advisory Services (DAAS), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), Global Forum for Agricultural Research (GFAR), German Development Cooperation GTZ, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC) and the World Bank.


Paul Van Mele works for CGIAR as a program leader on learning and innovation systems. His great passion (apart from rice, the value chain he directly works in all throughout west africa) is new media for extension services. He has been studying the possibility to offer effective radio and video extension, based on farmer to farmer exchanges. The videos are being translatetd into local languages and showed on market days after a radio broadcast has advertized for them.His main challenges: media people don't really have incentive to cover farmer innovation stories. They're not hot and juicy news like a car accident would be. So they ask for money to record things, and that slows down the diffusion process...

Max Olupot works for AFAAS, the African Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services. It's basically a network of African practitionners of extension services to farmers. It's really exciting, because to my knowledge, all those networks so far have been western driven and donor "stirred". This one isn't! The guy is amazing, a great listener, and has shown tremendous tenacity. It's been 3 years that the funding they have been promised by the european union should have come through and every month it's going to be next month. They are setting up country chapters where information and best practices on AAS will be shared. It's an initiative that ties nicely into what Sarah and I are doing in our respective strategies. So we've made contact with him and said we'd do our part to make it happen in Ghana and Burkina!