ATI, One of the Sponsors for GFRAS Main Event in Manila

ATI Director Saliot presents the Philippine Agricultural Extension System at the GFRAS Annual Meeting held in Manila

MANILA, Philippines -- The Agricultural Training Institute, being the extension and training arm of the Philippine Department of Agriculture, recently served as one of the major sponsors for one big event gathering delegates from the different parts of the world for the Global Forum on Rural Advisory Services (GFRAS).
GFRAS is an international organization of various stakeholders involved in the delivery of rural advisory services (RAS), whose mission is to provide advocacy and leadership by the stakeholders on pluralistic, demand-driven advisory services across the regions. The RAS Networks came from the different parts of the globe such as the African Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services (AFAAS), Asia Pacific Islands Network for RAS (APIRAS), Red Latinoamericana para Servicios de Extension Rural (RELASER), Pacific Islands Extension Network (PIEN), Central Asia and Caucasus Countries Network for RAS, and the emerging networks in the Caribbean, near/Middle East and North Africa, South Asia and Europe.
This year, GFRAS held its third annual meeting in Manila focusing on the role of RAS in agricultural innovation systems, as well as on the other issues in RAS and the GFRAS strategic directions and functioning. Aside from ATI, the meeting was sponsored by other institutions like the Asian Development Bank, Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), Department of Tourism - Southern Tagalog Region, International Rice Research Institute, and DOST-Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development.
About 181 delegates from the different parts of the world participated in the event. They were the various stakeholders in the agriculture and fisheries sector from Africa, Latin America, United States of America, Canada, Pakistan, Southeast Asia and Northern Asia, Saudi Arabia, European countries, Australia and the Philippines. More specifically, the delegates represented different international funding agencies, policy makers, program implementers, farmers' organizations and state universities.
The 3rd GFRAS Annual Meeting aimed to have a global understanding and agreement on the role of RAS in agricultural innovation systems and strengthen RAS networks for results-oriented activities aside from updating the participants on the overall progress of GFRAS. The main agenda for the meeting also focused on strengthening networking for results, progress reporting on GFRAS activities, and the new approaches and issues of interest in RAS. Being the host country, ATI Director Asterio P. Saliot presented the role of RAS in the context of the Philippine Agricultural Extension System.
One of the highlights of the meeting was the field tour where the delegates were grouped into five to visit the Cyber Village in Apalit, Pampanga; the Farmers' Contact Center in Diliman, Quezon City; the Farmers' Information and Technology Services (FITS) Center in the Provincial Office of Trece Martires City; the Cavite State University as a partner-member agency of the Regional Research and Development Consortia in Indang, Cavite; and the Science and Technology Based Farm on coffee production in Minantok East, Amadeo, Cavite. The groups later on discussed the good practices being done at the selected sites, how the RAS provider and its partners benefited from their interactions, the recommended skills for the RAS providers to enhance their services as well as the other interesting aspects that were realized by the groups and the RAS providers during the activity.
GFRAS regional networks likewise held side events prior to the meeting such as the APIRAS meeting, the Farmers' Forum on extension and advisory services, a workshop on Integrating Gender into RAS, and a forum on the National Agricultural Extension Policies - Improving the Enabling Environment for Effective RAS.

The 3rd GFRAS Annual Meeting was held last September 26 to 28, 2012 at the Heritage Hotel, Manila, with the APIRAS as host network. (photo courtesy of GFRAS Secretariat)