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Teagasc Organises Workshop at GFRAS 2016 Annual Meeting in Cameroon

After years of under-investment, agricultural extension is back in the spotlight. There are around 500 million smallholder farmers in the world, and they produce up to 80% of the food consumed in Africa and Asia. They are net buyers of food and are vulnerable to food price variability. They are among the poorest and most marginalized people in the world. They are also stewards of increasingly scarce natural resources and are on the frontline in dealing with climate change impacts. Improving agricultural outcomes and food security for these smallholder farmers is a multi-faceted challenge, involving the following factors: market, agronomic, environmental, skills, financial, governance, risk, technological, institutional, and infrastructural.

One of the greatest constraints that farmers face in improving their farming practices and productivity is availability of information and agri-inputs. Known as 'last mile delivery' (LMD), it means reaching farmers with appropriate and timely advice and enabling them to access the inputs they require. LMD is an on-going challenge for private and public sector providers. The provision of effective advisory services to smallholders will  play a critical role in addressing the challenges of food security, poverty, and climate change.

Teagasc, in association with IFPRI Irish Aid and AFAAS, organized a workshop on the topic of the ‘Last Mile’  at the GFRAS meeting in Cameroon in October 2016 with a view to better understanding relevant constraints and exploring options for progress. .

Building on the outcomes of the GFRAS meeting, IFPRI, Teagasc, Irish Aid and AFAAS propose to develop a strategy to improve the institutional environment, particularly in terms of public and private extension services, in which information is shared and impact is achieved within and across the Agricultural Knowledge Innovation System in support of the objectives of the CGIAR system and funding partners.

The strategy will comprise two interrelated elements, namely:

  • an analysis which will build upon existing knowledge and  identify barriers to the effective functioning of the Agricultural Knowledge Innovation Systems.
  • a multi-tiered action plan for different stakeholders across the knowledge innovation system, ranging from CGIAR to funders to national research and extension services, to local institutions and civic society institutions. This action plan would result in a series of institutional, operational, research and capacity-building recommendations for stakeholders.