North Western Province Area Development Project - Interim evaluation report

The project is national in scope, but concentrated on high priority areas to the benefit of the majority of agricultural and fishery small-scale producers. Given the prevailing insecurity at the time, the project would operate in about one-third of the country, covering seven provinces in the Northern, Central and Southern Regions. The Northern Region has a tropical climate with more than 1000mm of rains annually and a long rainy season. Average farm sizes are estimated to be 1.4-1.7ha. The Southern Region, in contrast, has an annual rainfall of 400-800mm, and average farm sizes which range between 1.3 and 2.3ha. The Central Region falls in between with regard to rainfall while farm sizes average at 1.8ha per household. Most of the farmers combine subsistence crops (cassava, maize, sorghum, beans and groundnuts) with cash crops (cotton, and cashew trees). The project would also support the fisheries sub-sector. There are about 40 000 -50000 active artisanal fishermen in the People's Republic of Mozambique (RPM), of whom 25000 will be targeted by the project.

Project design and objectives

Target group

The target group comprises the small farmers in the Northern, Central and Southern Regions who have annual per capita incomes of USD60, USD90 and USD55 respectively. In addition the project would support artisanal fishermen whose per capita income is estimated at USD90 per annum.

Objectives and components

Objectives. The project would provide smallholders with much needed inputs and means of production, and to help the RPM coordinate and gradually integrate the provision of these inputs with improved support services and the development of human resources. The project would also assist the Government in the implementation of the main goals of its Economic Rehabilitation Programme (ERP), i.e., to reverse the decline in production and restore a minimum level of consumption and income for the rural smallholder population, and strengthen the country's external payment position.

The project was supposed to draw main lessons from the first IFAD-funded project as quoted in its Evaluation report: "(a)be flexible so that its scope and/or duration can be adjusted during implementation in line with the evolving security situation; (b)include a reduced number of components, sufficient to meet the more urgent, short-term input needs of small-scale producers; (c)concentrate responsibility for procurement and distribution in a smaller number of agencies; and (d)adopt effective monitoring and evaluation procedures."

The main components are: (a)assistance to small-scale farmers; (b)assistance to small-scale fishermen; and (c)institutional development. Specifically, the project in its original design would finance the following activities:

(i) supply of farm inputs/handtools, quality seeds, bags, ox-drawn implements etc;

(ii) supply of fishery material, equipment and accessories;

(iii) support the agricultural extension system; and

(iv) institutional development and support to the People's Development Bank (BDP), the Department for Rural Development (DDR); and the National Directorate for Rural Economy (DNEA) of MOA.

The redesign exercise of the project undertaken in 1989 decided to scale-down the importation of handtools and reallocate the funds to expand the extension network as well as the rehabilitation of three research sub-stations in the project area. Also it decided to start a new set of activities such as forestry, livestock and beekeeping. In addition, under the development fund, new projects involving a NGO to support agricultural activities mainly animal traction, input facilities and renovation of a handicraft workshop will be funded with the support of the Government of India.

Expected effects and assumptions

The main project benefits would arise from an increase in food production and marketing in the project area through provision of agricultural inputs and marketing support and extension services. Together with producer incentives, these would enable smallholder farmers to exploit their natural resources more fully and to increase returns on their main input, labour. Processing and transportation equipment provided to smallholder women would enable them to increase their productivity and contribution to farming activities. In overall terms, without the project inputs, agricultural production would decrease by an estimated 3-4% below present levels and with project inputs it would increase by 3-4% above present levels.7million mt). Combining both effects, the additional production due to the project would attain the equivalent of some 125000mt of agricultural products per annum, which could be valued roughly at USD14.0 to USD18.0million.

Improved equipment and inputs would enable the fishermen to operate and maintain their boats more effectively. Without such assistance, fish production would decrease by an estimated 20% (2700mt) per year. With the project fish catch would increase by about 30% or 1800mt per year. Hence, additional production due to the project would total about 4500mt of fish per year. Benefits from this sub-sector would range between USD1.3and USD4.2million per year.

Combined incremental benefits attributable to the project would translate into a higher availability of cash, and its impact on income distribution would be an important contribution to alleviating rural poverty and restoring a minimum level of consumption and income for the population in rural areas.

The project area has been selected within the most accessible provinces having minor security problems. Enough flexibility has been incorporated into the design in order to allow for future adjustments to major policy. Project coordination and implementation has been streamlined and simplified. Probabilities of delays in the implementation schedule have also been reduced to a minimum, taking full advantage of appropriate procedures and trained teams developed under the previous IFAD project.

Evaluation

The mid-term evaluation mission comprised three consultants in the fields of extension, farming systems and monitoring and evaluation. During February and March 1990, the mission spent three to four weeks in RPM in field visits as well as in discussions with the project, government officials and NGOs in the project area. The mission consulted numerous reports and research material published by government, IFAD, World Bank, UN agencies and research institutions.

Implementation context

It must be taken into account that the project has been implemented in the context of a war covering most of the territory, with several emergency programmes and institutions involved in providing aid and support so as to partially compensate the effects of the war combined with natural calamities. Another key element which also has to be taken into account is that Mozambique has been carrying out a liberalization programme, which included macro-devaluations of the national currency, that had considerable impact on relative prices.

At project design a separation was established between the "administrative coordination" under the responsibility of the Special Operations Department (SOD) of the BPD, and the "technical coordination", whose responsibility was allocated to the DDR of the MOA. Given this inter-institutional split between the technical and the administrative coordination, a key feature of the project is the provision of a Senior Project Officer (SPO) who should establish the crucial linkage between both coordinations.

Project achievements

Project Coordination. The Administrative Coordination has performed adequately its role as coordinating and supervising links between the Cooperating Institution, importers and distributors for tendering, procurement and contracting. The team that worked in the previous project funded by IFAD had developed a valuable capacity that is being used in the present project. However, the Technical Coordination has never been operational. The SPO continued devoting most of his time to advise the national system of extension instead of providing much needed support to project coordination.

Supply of Farm Inputs. The general lack of coordination was particularly evident in the supply of handtools that was not linked with extension work. This lack jeopardized the effectiveness of both components. Whereas the project was quite successful in tendering internationally for inputs and equipment, and in placing orders for approximately USD7million during its first year, there have been serious problems with its delivery to the target group.

The Supply of Seeds. The situation is therefore very similar to the supply of handtools and even riskier (problem of storage) if the extension component and research does not provide a more accurate picture of seed requirements of small farmers living in the more secure areas. So far the needs of these farmers are not properly addressed by the national policy since they are supposed to produce and select their own seeds with the support of the extension service. In the more dynamic district of Boane and to a certain extent Rapale where extension is operating, the network is involved in seed sales to farmers, but it is the only case where extension is connected with input supply and yet independently from this component of the project at macro-level.

Supply of Fisheries Inputs. The fishing material and equipment that the project had to supply to artisanal fishermen was all imported during the project's first year. There have been problems due to an imperfect knowledge about the fishermen's needs that, together with the increase in prices and the poverty situation led to an accumulation of stocks of materials. In addition, a first draft on the small-scale fishery sub-sector study has been submitted and it includes valuable information and suggestions for future actions.

Although no base study on the demand had been made prior to the imports, most (but not all) of the imported equipment was satisfactory. Compared t the State Enterprise for Agricultural Marketing (AGRICOM), the Fisheries National Supply Enterprise (EQUIPESCA) seems to have operated in a more commercial and efficient way in adapting to a certain extent to the new demand arising from displaced farmers arriving in crowds on the coast. After the crisis due to the Portuguese retailers' departure and an initial lack of needs' analysis of this sector, these difficulties have been and are being partially overcome by EQUIPESCA adapting gradually to the demand through sales and good contacts with retailers, fishermen and provincial fishery officials.

With respect to nets, since the beginning of the ERP they get repaired and, therefore, their use has been extended from six months to two years. In the past (before 1987) the low cost of inputs due to the overvaluation of the Metical allowed fishermen to purchase new nets instead of repairing the old ones; these particular conditions do not exist any more since prices of imported nets have increased and fish prices have stagnated. Thus, repairing nets has become necessary and possible through the provision of thread.

Extension. Since the last semester of 1989 the support to the extension system has become the core of the project. The methodology which is being followed is an adapted version of the training and visit (T&V) system. The following conclusions have been reached: through the extension system GOM has established contacts with populations that were previously isolated from the state apparatus; and approximately 15% of the extension workers are female, whereas 60% of the households in the area are female-headed.

Support for Smallholder Associations. On this sub-component there has been no advance. At appraisal phase it was foreseen that a survey of existing smallholder cooperative marketing activities and/or NGO-supported smallholder development projects would be the basis for a work programme to be developed during the first project year, but the survey was not carried out.

Institutional Development. The project provided resources for the "extension work" of the Ministry of Agriculture and, through a grant, it made possible the appointment of a Senior Project Officer (SPO) to assist the Project Coordinator and thus to contribute to the development of the institutions involved in project implementation. However, for various reasons, until 1990 the SPO contribution to institutional development has been negligible.

23. Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E). The project design put both Monitoring and Evaluation under the responsibility of a Division of the MOA. As this arrangement was inadequate in principle and it was proving too be inoperative, a December 1988 Supervision Mission recommended to split Monitoring from Evaluation, the former to be carried out by the People's Development Bank (BPD) (where the Project Coordinator is located, already performing an informal monitoring of the project), leaving Evaluation at the MOA.

Effects, assessment and sustainability

The mid-term evaluation has been undertaken in less than two years after the effectiveness of the project. Project effects on beneficiaries, incomes, food security, environment, the economy etc., would take long time before they materialize. Hence, the mission had not made any observation or analysis of these issues.

Main issues and recommendations

Improvement of Coordination and Supervision. Urgently needed steps to improve project management include:

(a) An incentive scheme for the Project Coordination Unit (PCU) is needed. This scheme could consist of contracts for the PCU members as well as training opportunities, study travels and the possibility to be engaged in South-South cooperation in the context of other projects in Lusophone Africa (e.g., in Sao Tome). This would not only promote self-reliance but might also become an incentive that could prevent staff turn-over.

(b) The appointed SPO does not have the required professional profile for the tasks he should be doing. Given the key importance of his position and the lack of improvements in his performance during 1989, it is therefore recommended that the SPO be changed.

(c) Given the coordination problems, the role of the Cooperating Institution (CI) has become all the more important. The CI should allow for full participation of the Mozambican institutions, technical personnel (several of whom expressed that the Annual plan was "imposed" upon them by the financing agency), and the beneficiaries in the process of project planning and implementation.

(d) The CI's Senior Agriculturalist, who is the task manager, should be asked to take into account IFAD's lessons from experience, as reflected in some key documents such as the "Review of IFAD's Experience in Agricultural Research and Extension", April 1989, whose conclusions and recommendations are most relevant for the SARP. These and similar lines of action could help to eliminate as much (and as fast) as possible any communication gap between IFAD and the CI in the context of the project implementation.

Assessment of Small Farmers Needs. The farmers' specific needs are not sufficiently known by the suppliers and there is thus a mismatch between supply and demand which should not be explained only in terms of the lack of purchasing power but also by making reference to the lack of knowledge about farmers' needs. This would mean emphasis should be laid on a more participatory approach, with an active search of information on farmers real needs.

Consolidation of Extension and Research. Since project redesign in 1989 emphasized extension activities, the component should be improved in the following manner:

(a) The T&V method of extension (which has been strongly favoured by the cooperating institution) is particularly inappropriate to the project.

(b) The project should take into account IFAD's lessons from experience, as stated in the Review of Agricultural Research and Extension. The top-down approach should be replaced by a participatory approach, using the farmers' knowledge and establishing linkages with the research system.

(c) The work that is being done in six districts should be consolidated before expanding into new areas and to establish an effective coordination with AGRICOM and other institutions delivering inputs (a process in which the SPO should play a key role).

(d) The terms of reference of the research specialist only deal with management aspects, whereas what is urgently needed is a specialist who can help in the generation of validated appropriate technological recommendations in order to feed extension with relevant messages. The terms of reference for that expert should be changed accordingly.

Support to Smallholder Association. It is recommended to activate this sub-component. These smallholder associations could become the core group for a new project which could have a significant credit component.

Support to Small-scale Fishermen. The project has practically no more links than the supply of fisheries inputs with the institutions dealing with small-scale fishermen. But there are several reasons that would make it worthwhile to provide further support to small-scale fishermen: (i)they face less security problems than farmers in the countryside; (ii)Mozambique's comparative advantage in this activity; (iii)the availability of the sub-sector study which suggests possible lines of action, such as credit schemes; (iv)a credit line for small-scale fishermen could be tried out on a pilot basis since there is no competition from the emergency programme (that provides free inputs); and (v)the existence of a shipyards industry that can allow for backward linkages; and (vi)the availability of a strong institutional framework in the fisheries sector.

Lessons learned

Streamlining Field Coordination. For the delivery of project services, technical coordination at the field level is essential. This depends to a large extent on the personality and dedication of the lead coordinator and the technical capacities and incentive structures of the coordination staff.

Participation and Need Assessment. Even within the short period of project implementation by the mid-term evaluation, the importance the participation of the beneficiaries as well as assessment of their needs, has been clearly demonstrated. With respect to need assessment, the success of the fisheries input supply sub-component is contrasted to the problems faced by the farm input sub-component. It is imperative that for project success, adequate project support to ensure farmers participation and to carry out need assess exercises should be provided.

Lack of Technical Message. Research activities have lagged behind project services (particularly input supply and extension) leading to lack of appropriate technical messages for extension workers to deliver to small-scale farmers.

Choice of Extension Method. The choice of the method of extension depends on the specific circumstances in the project area in respect of the extension skill, infrastructure, resources as well as the recipients (i.e., small-scale farmers). The T&V has not been found to be particularly efficient for this project. The exchange of experiences between IFAD and its cooperating institution are critical for the success of the extension work. Strong linkage between research and extension should be institutionalized.

 

 

Date

01 December 1990

Countries

Zambia

Languages

English