On 8-9 October 2007, NRI hosted a small, but important, workshop to analyse the services needed by farmers in developing countries in order to obtain better access to markets, and to consider how those services should be funded and delivered.
The workshop, on Market-Oriented Agricultural Advisory Services (MOAAS), was part of a process of development of a working paper on the subject for the influential Neuchậtel Initiative – an informal group of donor agencies and academic institutions, including NRI, that are involved in agricultural development. The Neuchậtel Initiative is one of the very few international forums that focuses on agricultural extension, with the aim of developing a common understanding of current issues. MOAAS can play a key role in transforming pro-poor rural-development efforts from merely 'helping poor farmers' into actions for long-term growth and poverty alleviation: a subject in which NRI has particular interest and expertise.
The prime purpose of the workshop was to undertake a critical review of a draft version of the working paper, to identify any gaps in the content and to provide additional case-study material. The workshop brought together the collective expertise and experience of several NRI staff (Uli Kleih, Ruth Butterworth, Czech Conroy, Dr Rory Hillocks, Adrienne Martin and Barry Pound), and the authors of the initial draft paper – Ian Christoplos (Sweden), Elisabeth Katz (Switzerland) and Sanne Chipeta (Denmark) – plus Andreas Springer-Heinze (GTZ) and Felicity Proctor. The participants also worked on key messages for a common MOAAS framework, and agreed the next steps needed to finalize the working paper and to develop a new Neuchậtel Initiative Green Booklet on the subject.
The workshop, organized by Barry Pound with assistance from Caroline Troy, was very successful, and the participants expressed their appreciation of the hospitality provided by NRI's Director Dr Guy Poulter and Director of Research & Enterprise Prof. Andrew Westby. The content of the working paper was substantially supplemented and revised, and significant progress was made in developing a new Green Booklet. These documents will now be presented to the November 2007 meeting of the Neuchậtel Initiative representatives in Montpellier, which will be attended by Barry Pound.