Saturday, October 8, 2016

7th GFRAS Annual Meeting Holds in Limbe, Cameroon

By James Achanyi-Fontem
The Cameroon Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, H.E. Eyebe Ayissi, has said that it is in Limbe (Victoria) that the foundation stone to make Cameroon a bilingual country with English and French as official languages was implanted. Minister Eyebe ayissi was speaking at the official opening of the 7th GFRAS Annual Meeting in Limbe. During the meeting which held from the 3rd-6th October, 2016 the stakeholders from AFAAS, RESCAR-AOC, the Cameroon Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and World Agriforestry Centre shared experiences on the role of rural advisory services for inclusive agripreneurship. Minister Eyebe Ayissi extended the warm welcome of the Head of State, President Paul Biya to the visitor and the minister thanked the organisers for choosing Cameroon as host of the GFRAS meeting. He congratulated out-gone Executive Secretary of GFRAS and in-coming Executive Secretary, Kristin Davis and Karim Hussein for their achievements in the networking organisation. He recognised that the meeting held at a very difficult economic period when agriculture is relied on as a key development sector around the world. He added that the rural sector is key in offering employment for youths in Cameroon and this is why the government has opted for the promotion of agriculture of the second generation. The rural advisory services aim at innovating approaches for qualitative and qualitative production. The GFRAS Chair, Rasheed Sulaiman, told the audience that rural advisory services also known as extension services are fundamental to support rural people to face existing and emerging challenges and to improve their livelihoods. GFRAS was initiated in 2010 to provide advocacy and leadership on pluralistic and demand driven rural advisory services for sustainable development. Through fora like the one held in Limbe, Cameroon including networks representatives from regional, sub-regional and national levels and actors from all sectors involved in exchange of experiences and sharing ideas, change comes rapidly and is visible.
This explains why the annual meeting is the central instrument for GFRAS and its regional networks and national for a. Rasheed Sulaiman explained that the annual meeting in Limbe, Cameroon contributed to all of its strategic fields which include: 1.Advisory and support for an enabling policy environment and appropriate investment in rural advisory services. 2.Professionalization of rural advisory services 3.Facilitation and enhancement of effective and continuous knowledge generation and a functional component focused on network strengthening. The GFRAS Annual Meeting has both a thematic component focused on content and a functional component focused on network strengthening. Executive Secretary of RESCAR in the West and Central Africa regions, Patrice Djamen, at the opening told participants that his colleagues do not believe in meetings organised nowadays and described it as another tourism outfit, but Dr. Djamen replied that it is an international conference. Even with the response, his colleagues said it is the same thing. He added that partnerships are important tools for accelerating the development of populations in rural and urban settings. He reminded participants that the meeting in Limbe was to clarify the role to be played or played by each partner, especially as it held in a special context for the elimination of hunger and poverty alleviation and for the promotion of sustainable development. He went on to say that Cameroon is currently engaged in the policy of agriculture of the second generation which is more performant and sustainable. The Limbe international meeting was expected to come up with viable strategies for reinforcing the capacities of rural farmers and breeders. In this line, participants were invited to come up with possible win-win partnership opportunities which involve women and youths for deploying strategies of integration of rural populations in a way to render them more dynamic. In effect, Advisory services that work for smallholders and government in West and Central Africa regions is moving towards a shared vision. This report of RESCAR summarises nearly three years of action research on agricultural advisory services (AAS) up to 2015. A self-assessment of both farmer organisations and irrigation scheme managers confirmed their very different expectations. But each group recognised challenges, both for themselves and other actors. Farmer organisations recognised the need to: Increase accountability and transparency to and communication with members, and improve their internal governance systems in line with regionally agreed standards; Improve their capacity to play an effective role in demanding and using AAS from different sources; Increase their ability to enforce agreed rules and procedures (such as collection of irrigation fees, adherence with irrigation scheme regulation etc.; Pro-actively develop relationships with agricultural service providers rather than rely on the irrigation scheme managing agencies to do this for them at all times; and Increase the representation of women and youths. The irrigation systems managers recognised that: The AAS they provide is not meeting the needs of all the various types of farmers and has to be better targeted – both in terms of technical contents and advisory approach; Communication with Farmer Organisations is sporadic and ad-hoc, and needs to be more regular and effective; AAS provided by the scheme managers needs to be better integrated with national AAS strategies and policies (where these exist) and connect with AAS providers outside the irrigation scheme for mutual learning and effective support to farmers’ diverse livelihoods; and AAS needs to expand beyond advice on agricultural production to cover the whole value chain – starting with advice on agricultural credit and inputs, and providing advice throughout the production process, through to processing, storage and marketing. The government Delegate described Limbe as the Town of Friendship and he lauded the fact that his city was chosen to host the meeting in the Africa continent. Limbe is known for its rich tourism assets, though he admitted that the regular increase in population is making food to become expensive. The population is involved in subsistence agriculture and poverty is affecting farmers and fishermen. The city has good climate, rich soil and human capital that would benefit from the advisory services drawn for the international meeting. With the good advisory services, the rate of poverty will be reduced amongst farmers, thereby improving on their wellbeing. He invited the visitors to enjoy the city’s attractions during the day and at night with moderation.
Ceremony Video Links Introduction of 7th Annual GFRAS Meeting in Limbe, Cameroon Government Delegate of Limbe City Concil welcomes 7th GFRAS Meeting Patrice Djamen,Executive ecretary of ESCAR for est and Central Africa sub-region GFRAS Chair, asheed ulaiman presents balance sheet and new executive secretary Minister Henri yebe Ayissi opens 7th Annual GFRAS Meeting in Limbe,Cameroon

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