Issue number 19: January 2011

IFAD-funded projects review progresses made and discuss value chain

Message from the Director

Wisdom corner

“Let him speak, he who has seen with his eyes”
Congolese proverb

Jointly organised by IFAD and the Ministry of Agriculture of Senegal, the 5th Regional Implementation Workshop took place in Dakar, Senegal, on 8-11 November 2010. In this issue you will find a snapshot of the workshop, which provided a wonderful opportunity for our partners in Government, Farmer Organizations, project staff and international technical agencies and NGOs to formally and informally share experiences and knowledge in supporting smallholder agriculture in West and Central Africa. 

Feedback following the workshop indicated that this was the best so far, and I want to personally extend my thanks to our partners in the Ministry of Agriculture of Senegal, WARF, project  and IFAD staff who worked so hard to put this together.  Participants highlighted the importance of having more farmer organization representatives attending, having the projects indicate the priorities for the workshop, and advantages of having most of the participants staying together at one site.  At the same time, we received several excellent suggestions to make next year’s workshop even better, including ensuring more opportunities for exchange of experiences in the field.  

The report of the Workshop is currently under preparation and will be distributed to all participants in the coming days.  I trust that projects and their stakeholders will reflect on the need to move forward on many of the recommendations proposed, which is also a priority for the staff of IFAD.

The Western and Central Africa Team would like to thank you all for your support during this year. We wish you all health, happiness and a prosperous New Year for you and your families.

Mohamed Beavogui
Director
Western and Central Africa Division

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IFAD-funded projects review progresses made and discuss value chains in West and Central Africa

 
 

 

Group photo

The 5th Annual, IFAD Regional Implementation Workshop for West and Central Africa took place in Dakar, the Senegalese capital, from the 8th to 11th November 2010. The workshop brought together 276 participants to review the progress made since Accra on project performance and implementation and to discuss the main theme, selected by the projects through an on-line questionnaire, ‘Value chain approach to opportunities and growth: What role for IFAD-funded projects?’

This year’s objectives were to enable ongoing improvement of performance in project implementation, to encourage debate and discussion about the value chain approach and to develop action plans for each country for 2011. The opening ceremony was chaired by Khadim Gueye, Senegal’s Minister of Agriculture and West and Central Africa Director Mohamed Beavogui and presided over by Bintou Djibo, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Senegal.

Opening and plenary sessions

Qualitative evaluation of the workshop by participants

We have listed below some qualitative evaluations and suggestions from participants on topics for the next workshop:

  • Project presentation on best practices experiences and lessons learned for sharing - each project to share a success story in a session dedicated to exchanges between projects
  • Allow more time to the parallel sessions
  • Ease the program (more flexible schedules)
  • Presentations of CPM on the problems of their area
  • Online discussion on thematic and for sharing ideas and experiences
  • Regional workshop is a unique platform for exchanging experiences, ideas and opinions.

First, Mr. Thierno Ba, Director of PRODAM, welcomed participants and praised the choice of the main theme by the projects following a survey in July 2010. Ms Bintou Djibo, UN Resident Coordinator and Resident Representative for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Senegal, said that the results achieved by IFAD projects were good and deserved to be amplified to meet the ambitions of the Government in its quest for food security. Then Mr. Mohamed Beavogui, Director of the Division for Western Africa and Central IFAD stressed that the main lessons learned from the implementation of IFAD projects in West Africa and Centre show that rural people were able to reverse the negative trends of food insecurity, underemployment and rural exodus of young people and develop sustainable economic alternatives where conditions are created. He also emphasized that in order to better accompany countries in West and Central Africa in seizing opportunities and meeting challenges, IFAD is increasing the decentralization of its staff to four subregional offices in Senegal, Ghana, Cameroon and Congo as well as opening field offices in several other countries.

Finally, Senegal’s Minister of Agriculture praised the results achieved by IFAD projects and encouraged the continuation of excellent results in order to achieve IFAD’s aim of improving the lives and livelihoods of West and Central Africa’s rural poor. IFAD’s relationship with Senegal is a long-standing one. Over the past 30 years, projects totalling more than US $235mn (150bn CFA) have been approved.

Mr Beavogui presented the work of IFAD in rural areas; challenges, accomplishments and policy implications. He underlined that the region has enormous growth potential with a large and growing urban market, governmental desire to reduce dependence on food imports, improving political stability and increased agricultural support. However, challenges remain such as limited infrastructure, impediments to trade within Africa and continuing problems of high transactions costs for small and large businesses. As a consequence IFAD has been paying increasing attention to ways of promoting more of a business orientation among farmers, by encouraging them to relate their production more closely to market demand and to organise in order to more effectively integrate value chain and supply markets. Mr. Beavogui informed that the immediate challenges of IFAD and its projects are the rapid mobilization of financial resources and the reach of a higher disbursement rate while ensuring that disbursements follow the principles of integrity, quality and are focused on results.

He informed on the efforts that are underway to increase the decentralization of IFAD in order to better support sectoral policies development, strengthen the capacity and collaboration in developing COSOP, and the supervision and implementation of loans and grants. He also underlined that simply getting farmers to produce more is not the only answer to the problem of increasing rural incomes and enhancing food security.

 
 

 

Group photo

Participants highlighted their activities in the region on value chains as well as the range of opportunities to support linkages with markets. Projects are working to link farmers to market opportunities and all indicated that they planned to increase activities of this type.

They indicated that training was a priority for their staff since they had limited technical expertise in value chain and enterprise development.

Perin Saint Ange, Portfolio Adviser reported on the performance of the portfolio in the region.  IFAD's portfolio comprises 50 active projects in 21 countries in West Africa and Central for a total IFAD financing of U.S. $ 800 million. 13 partners are involved in the co-financing of 33 projects with a funding of 385 million, increasing from 62% in previous review period.  The grants portfolio has a total value of US$23 million. The indicator of sustainability in the regional portfolio stands at 61 per cent of projects scoring between moderately satisfactory and satisfactory.

Five projects in Liberia, Nigeria, Sao Tome, Guinea and Congo at different levels of project implementation outlined some of the challenges they are encountering, which include inadequate community involvement, staffing, disbursement rate and problems of counterpart funding.

These presentations followed by questions and answer sessions on plenary provided a good basis for discussions in the subsequent breakout groups that were charged to discuss rural entrepreneurship, professionalization of organizations, financing modes and modalities, good governance in the value chain, monitoring and evaluation, decentralization, withdrawal applications and up-scaling.

Conclusions of discussions on value chain

 
 

 

Working-group

The session on rural entrepreneurship stressed the importance of integrating value chain approach in agricultural policies and creating a framework for political dialogue where actors discuss and exchange on how to operationalize the value chain approach, the availability of standards for agricultural products and the creation of a fund to promote rural entrepreneurship. Participants in the professional organisations group discussed the perspectives of producers, the capacities of farmer organisations and country-specific recognition of agriculture as a respected and profitable profession.In addition, the session highlighted that contracting is a critical factor in the professionalisation and producer organizations must follow the rules and procedures that govern them. Finally, the session advocated for promoting women and youth professional organizations in agri-processing and marketing.

The session “financing modes and modalities" noted the limited range of financial products and services to support agro-industry, low profit margins in certain agricultural enterprises, the need for massive infrastructure funding that exceeds the capacity of institutions of micro-finance and the difficulties and complexities in obtaining loans. Meanwhile, participants in the “good governance” session recommended that governments might be more effective in a regulatory role rather than as actors.The session also recommended the establishment of regional projects for the promotion of certain products with robust action plans, implementation of market information systems.

Outputs of sessions on project performance

Outputs of the breakout groups on project performance and implementation included the establishment of monitoring and evaluation teams and its internalization by all stakeholders in a participatory manner. Also, they stressed the importance of conducting baseline surveys, and capitalizing on available studies. Concerning withdrawal applications and procurement procedures, participants reiterated the importance of the letter to the borrower and the loan agreement and the need to develop a procurement plan linked to a realistic work plan and budget. They welcomed the future development of an electronic system for managing withdrawal applications. On decentralization, the participants welcomed the principle of establishing four regional hubs and six country offices, which would strengthen collaboration among projects and improve the disbursement rate through the timely processing of withdrawal applications at national and regional levels. With regard to up-scaling, the participants stressed the need to ensure that the results (outcomes and impacts) were measured.

Subsequently, participants assessed the 2010 action plans, and set priorities for 2011 to address main challenges identified in the portfolio, which include the low level of knowledge of IFAD procedures (preparation of withdrawal applications, procurement, project work plan and budget), delay in mobilizing counterpart funds, the lack of learning and sharing of experiences and again the weak performance of M&E systems and the weak capacity of service providers to support project implementation. In addition, participants raised issues related to project staff remuneration, particularly the lack of harmonization of salaries across a country (Senegal, Gambia) and the low level of wage competitiveness (Sao Tome and Principe, Cape Verde).

On direct supervision, the participants stressed the positive aspects such as the easing of delays in obtaining no-objection, a better knowledge of projects by country portfolio managers, and the joint supervision of projects from the same country. However, areas for improvement include the preparation of joint supervision with other donors and the Government, by the project teams, and setting clear terms of reference.

Field visit

Participants visited two state owned, farms village of Darou Ndoye and Djilakh, implemented by Reva (Back to Agriculture), a state programme to promote agriculture as a viable economic activity. Darou Ndoye's farm, with an area of 20 hectares, mobilizes 40 producers, divided into two Economic Interest Groups (GIE) of twenty persons. Farm Djilakh also gathers 100 producers in 5 of 20 people.

The main lesson of this visit is that the model of Public - Private Partnership can work especially if it uses the value chain approach. The collaboration between producers, governments and exporters based on trust and transparency can lead to improved incomes and living conditions of farmers. However, an issue of sustainability remains: what happens when the state withdraws funding?

A full report on the workshop is forthcoming and will be distributed and posted on the FIDAfrique’s website.

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Workshop participants: What did you gain from attending the regional implementation workshop?

Daouda Maiga is the director of PIDRK Mali, based in Kidal

“At first I found the notion and concept of the value chain a little intellectual, but there’s plenty of accumulated knowledge about the value chain that we can implement afterwards. I gained a better understanding of the concept during the workshop. The other wonderful thing about the visit to Dakar has been the chance to meet all the Country Programme Managers. All the problems that we encountered over the course of one year have been resolved in one hour during the workshop. We found solutions together. The programmes in the Sahel region have also benefited greatly from sharing experiences and wisdom.”

Guy M’Bengue of PRODER Nord travelled to the workshop from Congo-Brazzaville

“Any occasion that we have to share and learn from one another within the context of IFAD projects is highly appreciated. The most important thing that I’ve taken away from the workshop, primarily through meeting staff from other projects in West and Central Africa, is the experiences of other projects that have more experience than us. We hope that we can learn from their mistakes and live up to their successes in Congo-Brazzaville. Another highly important thing for me was the chance to work on our action plan and improve our performance in 2011.
Together we had the chance to evaluate what works and
what doesn’t work, and now we’ll have the chance to remove those
obstacles. In terms of the workshops, I attended the one on the professionalisation of organisations, and I found it incredibly helpful. It has deepened my understanding and I now have a solid grounding to work on for 2011.”

Dr Khadidja Guirsimi is the director of the Association d’Elevage Nomade (AEN) in Chad

"The most important issues affecting nomadic communities in Chad include education, health and maternal mortality. I think it’s important that the AEN is represented at the annual workshop, although some of the knowledge sharing has focused successes in Congo-Brazzaville. Another highly important thing for me was the chance to work on our action plan and improve our performance in 2011. Together we had the chance to evaluate what works and what doesn’t work, and now we’ll have the chance to remove those obstacles. In terms of the workshops, I attended the one on the professionalisation of organisations, and I found it incredibly helpful. It has deepened my understanding and I now have a solid grounding to work on for 2011.”

Abu Yusuf Kankia is the National Programme Coordinator for IFAD-CBARDP in Nigeria

"The biggest issue for us in northern Nigeria is food security. We're looking at ways to work more effectively with farmer groups for food security, as well as continuing to produce commodities that can be sold in order to boost incomes. I've learnt the timeliness of implementing these activities. Much has been said on this issue. Another area we'll be looking into on our return is to engage service providers to assign activities to; delegation is very important so as not to overload ourselves."

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Interview with Mohammed Beavogui, IFAD WCA Director

 
 

 

Interview with Mohammed Beavogui, IFAD WCA Director

As the Annual Portfolio Review drew to a close, we sat down with IFAD’s Director for West and Central Africa Division, Mohamed Béavogui, to learn more about the workshop’s successes, challenges and the way forward.

Tell us about the objectives of the workshop; were they met?

The workshop had two objectives; firstly to present what we are doing in the value chain, and to share and learn from previous experiences and come up with best practices and ideas as to how we can improve our programmes in value chains. The second objective was to review our portfolio based on the lessons of the annual review that aggregates all the reviews and evaluations done during the year, and to propose action plans that can be implemented for each project.This was acheived. We had clear recommendations on value chains and as participants noticed at the end of the workshop, each project now has its own action plan. These action plans will be reviewed at the end of next year.

Challenges

  • Assessing markets – better quality identification of opportunities and constraints using value chain and other tools
  • Balancing market opportunities with support to the poorest
  • Public-Private Partnerships – expanding role of private sector in projects (financing, inputs, technical support) while ensuring benefits for IFAD target group
  • Building the future of agriculture – farming as an attractive business for young people

Our Vision of IFAD in WCA in 2020

  • IFAD staff based in every country in WCA with decentralized regional support in hubs
  • Broader range of financing options to work with both public and private sector
  • Key agency linking farmer organizations and governments with local and international investors
  • Preferred partner for those who care about smallholder- gender-, youth- and environmental friendly approaches to agricultural development

The topics addressed during the workshop are relevant. World demand for agricultural products has increased. Food crop prices have significantly increased. Now we are no longer the only people to talk about agricultural economy and its huge potential. Agriculture is no longer seen as a way to just achieve food self-sufficiency. Farming is no longer just for food. It’s also for the market place. The production and value chain approach addressed during this workshop can be an effective instrument to develop rural areas.

Were you pleased to see such a high rate of attendance?

It was very pleasant to see such a high attendance rate. Often at these kinds of workshops, people come in high numbers at the beginning and then they leave. But this time, nobody left. When the concept note was being prepared for the workshop, we were expecting to have about 150 people. The final figure of participants was 285 -- a sign of success, I think.

Almost all participants have called for capacity building for the various stakeholders.

What would be your response?

We have been implementing training activities for three years now. Grants have been provided to WARF for training sessions in all areas. The first phase is completed and the second approach is planned for next January. Now, we are particularly attentive to the impact of those training activities on the projects. It is our primary evaluation criterion. But some trained beneficiaries after being trained and mentored, leave us. This needs to be evaluated.

One issue that was been talked about repeatedly during the workshop was the challenge of encouraging young people to remain in rural areas and not migrate to towns and cities. Were you encouraged by what you saw during the site visits to the modern farms?

n order to keep young people in rural areas in the era of satellites, it’s important to make farming attractive. It must be attractive in terms of generating enough income, attractive in creating a pleasant environment for young people, and attractive in terms of creating enough wealth in order for young people to access services and entertainment.
What we saw at the modern farms was a lot of enthusiasm from young people, which means that the conditions to attract young people have been met. Now the challenge is to sustain those conditions, which means that the farms have to be successful in producing enough wealth to generate a better life for them. What we saw is very encouraging but it will need fine tuning. It is an experiment so it will require constant monitoring. The objective of Senegal’s government is to create 20 by next year, so we will see how it goes, but we are full of hope for the success of these modern farms. The dynamic of the modern farms brings structural change to the surrounding area, not only to the villages themselves.

As Director of IFAD’s programmes in west and central Africa, what did you gain personally from attending the workshop?

I feel very strongly that the decision of the division to invest more in the value chain was right. My presence at the workshop will allow me to fine tune our programmes because a lot of exchanges and lesson-learning has happened. I think that all our colleagues, including the country programme managers and the regional economists who help to formulate our strategies, have learnt something. We’ve taken those lessons away with us and we hope they will improve the implementation of all our programmes.

In terms of project implementation, I think we all learnt a lot from each other on that level as well. We were all very frank with one another during the workshop and we openly discussed the weaknesses and the challenges that we are facing, and we suggested solutions. On the basis of those suggestions, we drew up action plans. For me, this was an extremely important aspect of the workshop. It means that every participant left Dakar with a concrete plan of action to implement in 2011.

What is the rationale behind your wish to hold the next workshop in central Africa?

We cover west and central Africa. Two successive workshops have been organized in West Africa. We want to comply with an unwritten principle of rotation.

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Field visit: Modern village farms provide alternatives to urban migration

Djilakh modern village farm in numbers:

  • 2009-10 net income: CFA 30,156,743
  • 100 hectares of farmland
  • average salary 56,000 CFA per month

87km from Dakar, Djilakh modern farm lies at the end of a rutted track flanked by fields of sorghum, cassava and other crops. During the Regional Implementation Workshop, participants had the opportunity to join a field visit to the site and see the successes and challenges of the project first-hand.

A 100 hectare operation that combines irrigated and rain-fed farming, the farm is funded by the Spanish cooperation in conjunction with the Government of Senegal’s Return to Agriculture (REVA) plan. Its philosophy is to equip a team of local villagers with the land and equipment to earn a good income growing onions, tomatoes, watermelon and other fruits and vegetables. Depending on the harvest and contracts with consumers and markets, average income here is 56,000 CFA ($120) per month. The vast majority of the farmers come from within a 15km radius of the site, and many are under 35 years of age. 1,099 tons of melon was exported to Spain in 2010 under the project.

 
 

 

Field visit

Fatou Faye has been working at the farm for three years. She used to be a housekeeper, earning 10,000 to 15,000 CFA per month in a nearby village. These days she earns more than three times that amount, working in the fields to harvest sorghum, watermelon and other crops. “My husband left Djilakh for the big city life,” she said. “Life has been really hard without him but his absence has motivated me to work hard in order to look after our four children.” Farr said that remaining motivated despite being paid three to four times a year has been a challenge. “I’m not saying this job is easy,” she said. “But I feel content with it. I do feel that I am achieving something here at Djilakh.”

The director of the project, who addressed the group of participants, said that he would like to see the farmers’ incomes grow. “We must reach a minimum of 120,000 CFA monthly for each farmer,” he said. “We decided to diversify the activities by introducing fruit farming and cattle grass feeding. Hopefully, we will achieve improved productivity and intensive farming.”

Some participants raised concerns about the sustainability of the project, asking whether incomes can realistically be raised. But IFAD’s West and Central Africa Director Mohammed Beavogui stressed that the project is, at this stage, an experiment. “It will require constant monitoring to gauge success,” he said. “The objective of Senegal’s government is to create 20 modern farms by next year, so we will see how it goes, but we are full of hope. The dynamic of the modern farms brings structural change not only to the villages, but to the surrounding area.”


Rural entrepreneurship in Ghana – a chat with Faustina Adjeiwea Sakyi, young agro-processor

 
 

 

A chat with Faustina Adjeiwea Sakyi, young agro-processor

Faustina Adjeiwea Sakyi is a gari producer and Entrepreneur based in a village in central Ghana.  She participated in the Annual Portfolio Review in Dakar.

Her company, Asuogya Agro-Processing and Marketing Program was built from scratch, based on a dream she had harboured since childhood. Here, she tells us her story – and how attending the regional implemenation workshop has helped her learn more about how to improve her business.

“I’m a cassava processor. When I was 8, I watched my mother producing gari from cassava. I became part of the process. I always used to stand behind my mother and help her. When I was 15, I finished school. I tried to continue with my education but for financial reasons I had to drop out before I was 17. I became a seamstress. On the outside, my life seemed to be going fine; I had plenty of work, but I couldn’t stop thinking about producing gari. At night, I dreamt about making gari. I told my husband, “I have to go back to my village and produce gari,” and he agreed to help me. He bought me a machine and we managed to put together an engine to power it, and eventually, we started to produce gari.”

“I called all of the ladies in my village who were unemployed, and I asked them if they would be interested in coming to my factory, which was very small at that point. Some of them agreed. By 1998 I had 36 women working for me, but we needed a bank loan to finance our operations. I shared the loan among the women; some of them invested in a cassava farm, others invested in trade. Some of them refused to make payments on the loan, so I had to sack them and find the money myself because I was the guarantor.”

“These days, I have 12 women working for me. I’m proud of what we have achieved together. If you visit my village, you won’t see any women sitting around without work. Everyone is striving for success. If you come to my factory, you’ll see so many people – peeling, washing, roasting cassava. Everything is made of stainless steel. The ladies are making an income. Eventually IFAD heard of my success through ARETA.”

“I’d advise anyone thinking of setting up a business in rural areas to start small. You can’t achieve everything at once. At first I was producing 1 kilo of gari per week. Now, as long as I have the raw materials I can produce any amount. You have to start small, small, small...and eventually you’ll reach the point I’m at now. You have to be patient.”

“Attending the Annual Portfolio Review workshop has helped me a lot. I’ve had the chance to talk to other rural processors. I also feel that I’m taking a lot of shared knowledge and experience back to Ghana with me. I’ve learnt about marketing and how to attract customers. I’ve also learnt about communication techniques, especially with customers who are based outside Ghana. I’m looking forward to putting this new knowledge into practice.”

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News and events

Workshop-fair on youth as catalysts for small scale agri-business

A Workshop-fair on Youth as Catalysts for small scale agri-business Development and Growth in Western and Central Africa is planned in the first part of 2011, possibly in Cotonou, Benin. The event will be jointly organized by IFAD, UNIDO and the Songhai Centre. This collaborative workshop-fair “Young People as Catalyst for Agriculture Development and Growthwill bring together young rural entrepreneurs and representatives from national, regional and international institutions and civil society to share their experiences on the promotion of rural entrepreneurial and innovation in Western and Central Africa and more specifically in tapping the potential of rural young entrepreneurs and innovations in rural development. The overall objective of the workshop-fair is to share lessons and create awareness on business and employment opportunities in agriculture and sensitize participants to possible strategies that can be used to exploit such opportunities. The workshop-fair will include plenary keynotes, thematic mini-workshops and an interactive information market.

IFAD Governing Council 2011

The next GC 2011 will focus on Rural Youth (theme is: "Today's young rural women and men are tomorrow's farmers - Investing in Smallholder agriculture and rural youth to feed the world'"). During the GC, a Sub-Sahara Africa side event, including a moderated panel discussion will be organized jointly by the Western and Central Africa and East and Southern Africa Divisions on rural youth and rural development. The objective of the SSA event is to “elevate and promote smallholder agribusiness and vocational training of rural youth to enhance generational livelihood security in the rural economies of Sub-Saharan Africa.”

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