GFAR is a global platform for agri-food research and innovation. We represent organisations working across the world in scientific research, education, rural extension and advisory services; business and enterprise; international development agencies; and farmers’ and civil society organisations.
We bring to our task diverse capabilities, capacities, and perspectives, but with one goal in mind: agri-food research and innovation that changes lives for the better.
We focus on critical issues such as food security, nutrition, climate change, women and youth in agriculture and agri-biodiversity. We develop our programmes through consultation, co-ordinating them through the GCARD Road Map. Programs are fostered, and sometimes co-financed, through the Global Forum’s Secretariat, but they are delivered by our constituent organizations, working together.
The GCARD Road Map clearly identified the need for GFAR to encompass all actors involved in the generation, access, transformation and use of agricultural knowledge, science and technologies. All are recognized to be innovators in different ways and each forms part of the complex multi-dimensional research and innovation continuum which the Global Forum now encompasses .
Farmer and Agricultural Worker Organizations
When agricultural research and development stakeholders came together to establish the Global Forum in 1996, one of the main objectives was to have farmers at the centre of the agenda. GFAR catalyzes and supports programmes that empower farmers by influencing policy and investment, and by building their capacity to contribute to national, regional and global agri-food research and innovation agendas.
The Global Forum provides the opportunity for partners and associates from all constituencies to project their voices. This is particularly important for farmers and agricultural workers, who have often been marginalized in the decisions vital to their livelihoods and to transformations in agriculture that affect technology, infrastructure, services and investments. The Global Forum offers a forum to develop strategic partnerships and alliances for agricultural innovation among their organizations as well as with other actors in agri-food research and innovation.
At global level, the Global Forum benefits from its association with the World Farmers’ Organisation (WFO) and its 66 National Farmers’ Organizations members. Regional organizations are currently represented through the Asian Farmers’ Association for Sustainable Rural Development (AFA) as a Partner in GFAR, with 17 farmer organizations in 13 countries of the region.
Civil Society and Non Governmental Organizations
Civil Society and Non Governmental Organizations (CSOs and NGOs) have literally exploded in number, scope, membership and financial and political importance in recent decades. Their numbers, diversity and capacities have grown at local, national, regional and global levels, with some large international NGOs with budgets and staff equivalent to major institutions and companies.
Food, agriculture and a focus on rural areas and communities remain at the heart of the mandates and programmes of many NGOs/CSOs. They pursue initiatives in applied research on trends in agriculture, the environment, and rural landscapes, and have become the primary providers of rural advisory services in many countries. Their role is vital in generating and transforming knowledge into innovative products and services, and as Partners in GFAR for taking research and innovation results to scale.
The Civil Society Organisation Group on Agricultural Research for Development (CSO GARD) functions as a network that grew out of the GCARD process. It currently has 212 members devoted to sharing information and capitalizing on experiences to achieve the GFAR Vision. GFAR has stimulated the emergence of NGO networks for innovation. For example PROmoting Local INNOVAtion in ecologically-oriented agriculture and natural resource management (PROLINNOVA) exchanges knowledge and provides support to national agricultural innovation platforms in 21 countries.
Transforming national research and innovation systems not only benefits farmers but consumers too, who are also demanding more environmentally sustainable productivity growth, better nutrition and food security. Consumer organizations play a vital role in accelerating consumer awareness and educating consumers. They are a key constituency in the Global Forum.
Consumers International is the world federation of consumer groups that, working together with its Members (240 Members spanning 140 countries), serves as the only independent and authoritative global voice for consumers.
Finance and Investment Institutions
GFAR is working to address the vast investment gaps in agricultural research for development and to link research investment to wider development commitments. The involvement in GFAR will help the investor constituency to act in concert with other stakeholders in order to develop innovative funding strategies and to participate in the programming of activities. We aim to develop processes that coordinate agri-food research and innovation investments directly with wider rural development commitments.
Our partners include bi-lateral and multi-lateral donor agencies, development banks and philanthropic foundations. Current and past donors to the Global Forum.
GFAR Foundation Members
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) have a special role as founding partners of GFAR and as facilitating agencies.
FAO has an additional administrative responsibility, hosting the GFAR Secretariat at its headquarters in Rome and providing a legal identity for GFAR, through a joint Memorandum of Agreement with IFAD.
IFAD supports staff in the GFAR Secretariat and has been a generous investor in GFAR-related projects and events.
The Global Confederation of Higher Education Associations for the Agricultural and Life Sciences (GCHERA) represents more than 600 universities around the world.
The GCHERA Higher Education Associations are brought together in support of a mission to (1) encourage mutual understanding and global co-operation among higher education associations and their constituent member institutions in supporting innovation, and (2) to provide within the global context leadership in education, research and outreach in agricultural and life sciences.
It is working to improve the quality and relevance of agricultural education to attract more young people into the sector and to better meet the needs of rural communities.
International Public Sector Agricultural Research
As one of the main international agricultural research systems, CGIAR is a worldwide partnership addressing agricultural research for development, whose work contributes to the global effort to tackle poverty, hunger and major nutrition imbalances, and environmental degradation.
The work of CGIAR is carried out by 15 Research Centers, that are members of the CGIAR Consortium, in close collaboration with hundreds of partners, including national and regional research institutes, civil society organizations, academia, development organizations and the private sector.
The Research Centers generate and disseminate knowledge, technologies, and policies for agricultural development through the CGIAR Research Programs.
Another global agricltural research system partnering in GFAR is the Association of International Research and Development Centers for Agriculture (AIRCA). The mission of AIRCA is “Putting research into use by strengthening capacities for sustainable improvements to incomes, food and nutrition security in healthy landscapes”. Through sharing AIRCA’s knowledge and experience in creating healthy landscapes, the group seeks to work together for greater impact and raise awareness of the benefits of landscape approaches among potential stakeholders in the agricultural and environmental sectors. In 2013 AIRCA released a white paper offering recommendations for transforming rural livelihoods in the developing world at the “landscape level.”
Private Sector Networks
Delivering on development outcomes requires inclusive and effective partnerships that go well beyond public sector science and research. The Global Forum works with all elements of the private sector including input producers; small and medium enterprises; and food chain and market organizations.
We work through representative bodies established by each sector such as:
- Pan African Agribusiness and Agro Industry Consortium (PanAAC), a platform of agribusiness and agro industry value chains and support services;
- Croplife international representing the plant science industry;
- Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI) platform of food companies and retailers working to support sustainable agriculture practices involving the different stakeholders of the food chain.
Regional Fora of Public Agricultural Research for Development
The national agricultural research and development systems of countries from the North and South are represented in the Global Forum by six Regional Fora.
They bring together networks of research institutions and stakeholders to identify priorities for action and to exchange information and ideas.
The Fora operate in:
- Africa: through the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA)
- Near East and North Africa: The Association of Agricultural Research Institutions in the Near East and North Africa (AARINENA)
- Asia Pacific: Asia Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutions (APAARI)
- Central Asia and the Caucasus: Central Asia and The Caucasus Association of Agricultural Research Institutions (CACAARI)
- Europe: The European Forum on Agricultural Research for Development (EFARD)
- Americas: Forum for the Americas on Agricultural Research and Technology Development (FORAGRO)
Rural Advisory Services
The visibility of rural advisory services (RAS) has in recent years increased on the global agenda. Still there is a need for enhanced individual and institutional capacity development within RAS and sharing of experience at local and regional levels. Worldwide, stakeholders in the rural advisory sector have expressed demand for a dynamic, proactive, and formal structure to assure a credible and clear voice for RAS.
In response to this need GFAR co-founded, and remains a Steering Committee member of the Global Forum on Rural Advisory Services (GFRAS). The GFRAS vision is to see rural advisory services effectively contributing to the sustainable reduction of hunger and poverty worldwide. Its mission is to provide advocacy and leadership on rural advisory services within the global development agenda.
In its support to the GFAR Medium Term Plan, GFRAS aims to strengthen and bring new international linkages to advisory service providers within the global development agenda and advocates for creating and resourcing effective advisory services for today’s needs.
GFAR is fully engaged in fostering the GFRAS mechanism to reform processes in the advisory service and extension sector through capacity development & collective learning. The GFAR Secretariat directly supports all initiatives that strategically contribute to the same purpose. Examples include the following conferences:
- Facilitating Information and Innovations for Empowering Family Farmers held in the 2014 as a contribution to the International Year of Family Farming, at the University of Zanjan, Iran.
- Reaching the Millions International Workshop organized 2-7 March 2015, in Hanoi, Vietnam by the Agriculture & Food Security Network of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) in collaboration with HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation, GFRAS, APIRAS, and AESA. GFAR, along with 67 Regional Advisory Services experts, practitioners and representatives of various rural advisory services initiatives that participated in the workshop, endorsed the Hanoi Statement on Rural Advisory Service Systems.
Women in Agriculture
Nearly half of all those working on smallholder farms are women and yet, despite their significance, women commonly suffer huge gender inequalities in access to land, productive resources, markets, decent jobs and information.
Since no single institution or individual can resolve these challenges alone, the Global Forum partners are working together to build a vibrant, collective movement for change. Launched at the first Global Conference on Women in Agriculture (GCWA, New Delhi, March 2012), the Gender in Agriculture Partnership (GAP) promotes and develops collective actions around the world, to strengthen the rights and roles of women in agriculture.
The partners in GAP recognize that achieving change requires both strong advocacy and practical actions. GAP operates at different levels through an international group of 'GAP Catalysts' to inspire change and foster collective actions within their own organizations and among different organizations and sectors.
Recent projections from FAO are that in the next 40 years the world’s population will increase from 7 billion to over 10 billion. At the same time, agriculture is an ageing and undervalued profession for which there is a declining interest among young people. Who will feed this growing population and how?
In order to tackle this issue, GFAR believes that youth, as key stakeholders in the future of agri-food research and innovation, must be involved. Young professionals face numerous challenges including making their voices heard and exerting influence in the field of agri-food research and innovation. Lack of youth involvement has negative implications for the sector, reducing the potential for innovation, use of new communication technologies, inclusivity and future sustainability.
In response to this on the 8th of November 2006, during the triennial conference of the GFAR, in New Delhi, India: the current Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD) was officially launched and it is now hosted by the Global Forum's Secretariat.