Approaches and tools 

What is RAS – Rural Advisory Services?

Definition of RAS according to GFRAS (2011): “Rural advisory services are all the different activities that provide the information and services needed and demanded by farmers and other actors in rural settings to assist them in developing their own technical, organisational, and management skills and practices so as to improve their livelihoods and well-being.“

They include services related to:

  • Technical know-how for sustainable crop/livestock production (varieties, breeds, inputs, irrigation, plant protection, soil and water conservation etc.)
  • Economics and business management skills (enterprise analysis, market analysis, business planning, financial management, etc.)
  • Know-how to meet quality requirements (post-harvest handling, processing, packaging, certification, food safety standards, etc.)
  • Facilitation and accompanying value chain management (collective marketing, negotiations, contracts, market linkages, etc.)

RAS at RLDP

The importance of RAS with clear market orientation has been recognised by all RLDP partners and beneficiaries. It constitutes for instance a key pillar of the contract farming system. The provision of services either from public or private actors to producers (but also process) significantly contributed to the economic growth of all sectors.

Special attention is paid to RAS in phase IV of RLDP. This requires a close collaboration with private companies and public extension agencies in order to ensure the sustainability of advisory services in the long-run. RLDP applies the principle of cost contribution for such services (no free services!).

In the logic of RLDP, RAS is defined as one of the cross-sector services for the four sub-sectors (rice, sunflower, cotton and poultry). Today there exists quite a pluralistic RAS landscape in the Central Corridor of Tanzania. RLDP has experience in facilitating RAS provided by all types of service providers: public (e.g. Local Government Authority’s extension officers), private (e.g. input suppliers, processing companies, etc.), and civil society (e.g. lead farmers, farmers’ groups, etc.).

Approaches and tools include:

  • Farmer Field Schools (FFS), Farmer Study Cycles (FSC)
  • Local Service Provision (Farmer-to-Farmer, other villagers as LSP)
  • Farmer contests
  • Highly specialized service providers (certification, business entrepreneurship, market information, etc.)
  • Embedded services (input suppliers, processors …)
  • Etc.