New directions for inclusive pluralistic service systems, report of FAO expert consultation
This paper (PDF) by FAO and KIT presents a synthesis of deliberations, and a set of policy recommendations and priority actions for pluralistic service systems (PSS). A growing variety of public and private agricultural advisory services are available today, leading to increasingly PSS in which advisory services are provided by different actors and funding sources. PSS hold the potential to overcome constraints related to funding, staffing and expertise, and making advisory services more demand-driven. But are PSS really able to reach the millions of farmers in need of services? What are the characteristics of PSS necessary to improve access to services for diverse small-scale farmers? What actors, policies and mechanisms are needed to make such a system work in practice? These were some of the questions raised by FAO Expert Consultation on Inclusive PSS. The lack of downward accountability towards farmers continues to be one of the Achilles heels of rural advisory services and is fundamentally grounded in a lack of voice and power of farmers. Practice has shown that governments often lack the capacity and/or the willingness to assume a comprehensive coordination role in PSS. This calls for a more differentiated understanding of coordination, including but not limited to governments. Producer organizations, in particular, are slowly being recognized for their important role in coordinating (and articulating) producers’ demands and matching service provision accordingly.