Smallholder Rehabilitation and Development Programme
The major part of the programme was to be concentrated in three adjacent districts of the Northern Region. The volume and period of rains varies widely (drought in 1982-83, flooding in 1989). The feeder road system is characterized by very limited on going maintenance, many roads being impassible during the rainy season. True shifting cultivation still predominates in the Northern Region. This aggravates the pressure on land ressources. The major crop is maize, followed by groundnuts, millet, sorghum, yam, cowpeas, rice and cassava. Technological changes such as the introduction of tractor cultivation and combine harvesters will lead to land scarcity much faster than population growth alone.
Project objectives and design
The primary target group for the programme are to be smallholders with holdings of 3 ha or less. They represents 80% of the rural population or 23.300 farm families. On a socio-economic scale, this target group lives at a level well below those of the country as a whole. The National Root and Tuber Improvment Sub-programme would have a national target group of 900.000 small farmers who produce 2.5-3.0 millions mt of root crops and tubers annually on 550.000 ha.
Objectives and components
The main objectives of the programme are to encourage food production and to improve rural family incomes.
The components are:
- provision of farm inputs including fertiliser;
- reactivation of extension services;
- credit for smallholders. The main line of credit will be chanelled through ADB. The opportunity would also be taken to test (on a pilot basis) a new approach to credit delivery by a second bank (BHC) in association with a local NGO.
- rehabilitation of feeder roads to improve the access of smallholders to markets;
- training and technical assistance;
- adaptive trials for root-crops and tubers through the National Root and Tuber Improvement Programme.
Expected effects and assumptions
The quantifiable direct production benefits of the programme would include at maturity an annual production of about 46.500 t of food crops comprising cereals 28.000 t, legumes 4.500 t, and roots and tubers 14.000 t. There would also be spin-off effects from the strengthening of institutional services and the expansion of credit. The root and tuber improvement programme wood lay the basis for very significant increases in productivity of these staple foods on a national basis. Additional employment would be created by the increase in the level of economic activity induced by the programme in other sectors such as trading, transportation and construction. The training programmes would improve local capability and facilitate planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of future development projects.
The improvment of the highway from Accra to Tamale and of the communication system, as well as the better supplies of inputs and consumer goods have positively affected the project implementation.
The policy of structural adjustement followed by the government has lead to the privatization of the input supply system and to the elimination of subsidies and therefore modifies the economic rentability of fertilizers. Government policy has still to be clarified with regard to the operating procedures of the private trade.
Input supply. The programme is providing foreign exchange to procure inputs, such as fertilizer. A total of 4.141,5 t were sold. The fertilizer use has only slightly increased during the first two years. Agrochemicals, improved maize, cowpea and groundnuts seeds were distributed to technical staff to support them in conducting on farm demonstrations and sales to farmers.
Extension. The extension services in the project districts have been strengthened. Rehabilitation of the zonal extension stations as well as the Farmers Service Centers are being implemented as planned. Vehicles and motorcycles are being provided to the extension staff and the field activities are proceeding in the project districts. It could be observe, however, that the extension messages are primarily standard crop packages, the maize-fertilizer one being most promoted. All of the farmers were extended exactly the same package. It was observe that the initial adoption rate was rather low.
An agroforestry component was included in the extension programme (nursery, on-station demonstrations). The programme support for the women farmers extension division was limited but conducted training courses in food processing, demonstrations for crop production in 25 villages and follow-up of women groups receiving credit.
Credit. The Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) has made efforts to promote group loans and succeeded, between 1987 and july 1990, to provide 136 millions cedis of loans to 614 groups consisting of 4.306 menbers. The programme has taken the opportunity to test a new approach to credit delivery by a second bank in association with a local NGO. The Bank for Housing and Construction (BHC) has initiated a pilot credit programme and promoted 40 credit groups in close cooperation with a local NGO (Amasachina). The groups formed by Amasachina were generally more cohesive than the groups served by ADB. This enabled BHC to achieve higher repayment rates: 518 in 1988, 75% in 1989 and 90% projected for 1990. There is no savings (the interest rate is 15% wich is negative in real terms).
Marketing support. The proposed pilot storage programme for maize has not yet been implemented.
Feeder road rehabilitation. The rehabilitation of the feeder road programme has started in 1990 with a one-year delay. The routine maintenance of feeder roads with the support of villages has not yet started due to delay in delivery of tools and equipment.
Training. A number of training programmes have been implemented. The training programme as proposed by PCU is supported by the mission. The organization of a training programme for farmer groups as foreseen in the project should be started.
National Root and Tuber Crops Improvement Sub-Programme (NRTCIP). In spite of the long delays in signing the subsidiary agreement between the implementation agencies (IITA and GOG), NRTCIP has been able to carry out a large part of the proposed activities for the first half of the project.
Small Ruminants Development Programme. This project component has been started by ordering vehicles, construction material and other equipment.
Monitoring and Evaluation. The effectiveness of the Monitoring and Evaluation Unit (MEU) has been limited. The economics of the input packages and the ruminants project, and indicators of performance were not adequately addressed. A computerized data management system does not exist. With TA, a proper baseline survey has been carried out. The only drawback is that the size of the project area was reduced after the baseline survey was completed. A mid-Term Rapid Farm Household Survey has been undertaken to update the information on some proxy indicators related to living standards and to have a feedback from the beneficiaries with regard to the activities promoted by the programme and their main problems and constraints in farming.
Effects assessment and sustainability
Beneficiaries: Through the extension service, the target group has been reached in general. The poorest segments and the women farmers have not been reached adequately due to lack of focus. A strategie for group formation has not yet been developped.
The project has made good progress in strengthening credit, input and extension services.
In terms of yields and production, the impact of the project is found to be limited, with no more than 30% of the farmers having adopted the maize-fertilizer package. Farmers seem to apply less fertilizer and consequently obtain much lower yields compared to demonstration farms. Some of the scarce data indicate that the yields of the latter compare very favorably with appraisal estimates. Nevertheless, high fertilizer prices make crop rotations with legumes seem more profitable than a maize-fertilizer package.
Specific effects on women: the project has had litle effect on the women in the target group or in terms of strengthening women's organisations.
Effects on environment: the promotion of the high input maize package can have an adverse effect on soil fertility, as the farmers are commonly applying the fertilizer to a larger area than meant for and thus the nutrients removed by the crop stand are not sufficiently restored, wich results in "soil mining". On the other hand, the project components of agroforestry and efficient dissemination of crop rotation packages can have a positive impact on the environment. Similarly, the approach of the NRTCIP research programme in identitying disease and pest resistant cultivars and using biocontrol to check pest populations is environmentally sound.
Sustainability: the sustainability of services currently provided by the project appears questionable. Recurrent costs, with particular reference to transport, feeder road maintenance, credit, extension, and small ruminants, have to be minimized in order to be sustainable after the closure of the IFAD loan.
The small ruminant development programme raises a number of questions.
Little consideration has been made to the cost/benefit analysis, to the impact and possible adoption by farmers of the technology proposed. No information is provided on the cost of additionnal feeding and the additionnal returns the smallholders could expect from a better fed animal. It appears doubtful whether the farmers are able to adopt the package because of financial or socio-cultural reasons and lack of incentives. There no evidence that the proposed technology is financially sustainable. There is also the question of priority with regard to the proposed water holes for animals while a large part of the rural human population has not yet convenient access to water.
The liberalization of fertilizer imports and distribution leads to increase of fertilizer prices.
The fertilizer/maize package does not appear to be profitable anymore. Many farmers reported the need of groundnut sales to repay the loan for the maize package. The present fertilizer package has to be adapted to changing conditions.
The group formations are quite often artificial.
Presently, the groups are often formed ad-hoc, only for the purpose of receiving credit. They lack cohesiveness and group liability. This is a serious factor reducing impact and sustainability of the project.
The loan repayment rate is very low.
The main problem encountered was the decline in repayment rates which reached only 47% in 1989. It appears that the programme was implemented too quickly under the general pressure for loan disbursement. Appraisal, supervision, monitoring and recovery methods have to be strengthened. A lack of effective cooperation between the bank, the extension service and NGOs, as well as flooding in 1989, have also contributed to unsatisfactory performance of the programme.
The extended messages are too standardized.
The initial adoption of the promoted crop packages was not very high and many farmers were aware of the extension packages but had not implemented them in their own fields. Several farmers mentioned the high cost of inputs as a major constraint. The need for "tailor" extension messages to suit the conditions of the farmers are supported by a recent study on allocative efficiencies among farm households in Northern Ghana. It was shown that soil fertility varies greatly from field to field and that there is great variability in the allocative efficiencies of the farm households which could be used by the extension services as a basis to identify recommendations domains.
Recommandations and lessons learned
Project Management and Organization:
- review of administrative procedures of procurement and disbursement by the agencies involved;
- make arrangements for the representation of beneficiaries at the regional steering committee;
- use of vehicles should be properly monitored and supervised.
- carefully analyze the default situation, and establish appropriate remedying measures and effective cooperation with the extension service and NGOs;
- make arrangements for the availability to loan officers of vehicles under the IFAD loan;
- regularly review transaction costs of the bank and the borrowers in order to ascertain the economic viability of operations;
- annually review the economics of the fertilizer/credit/maize package;
- place more emphasis on savings mobilization, promotion, and monitoring of farmer group performance.
- implement a training programme on input marketing for retailers, wholesalers, extension agents and farmer groups;
- carefully monitor the new fertilizer marketing system by means of the M&E Unit of PCU with regard to demand, supplies, prices and stocks.
- regularly review the profitability of the crop-packages;
- move from promotion of single commodity crop packages to a farming-systems approach developing multi-commodity (including a livestock component if appropriate) extension messages in consultation with the farmers and with the research community;
- organize training for extension agents on a farmer/problem-oriented extension approach;
- appoint more female extension staff to the project to support the frontline work.
- initiate the proposed pilot programme for financing maize storage;
- strengthen the marketing extension work of the project.
Feeder road rehabilitation
- give more emphasis to institutionalizing feeder road maintenance with the maximum participation of communities.
Promotion of groups
- use already existing village groups or initiate the proposed training programme of farmer groups through NGOs.
Support to women's activities
- complement the women's components with a provision of boreholes for 40 villages in the project districts with active participation of the communities and make use of the expertise and equipment available through the Northern Region Rural Integrated Project (NORRIP).
National root and tuber crops improvement sub-programme
- clarify the strategy of distributing and disseminating improved varieties and practices;
- initiate the baseline survey and the survey on village level processing of roots and tubers.
the project should plan and implement a substantial awareness-building campaign.
Small Ruminants Development Programme
- review the scope and type of activities proposed in line with the farmers' needs and interest;
- reduce the project to a pilot trial basis.
Monitoring and evaluation
- strengthen the M&E through technical assistance and by appointing an agricultural economist.
Sustainability of services
- preparation by PCU of a report on the sustainability of essential services by May 1991.
There are a number of lessons to be learned:
Bottom-up against top-down approach. There is much scope in the design and implementation of the project to promote a bottom-up approach and more self-help activities. The heavy top down approach in extension does not encourage anough innovation coming from the farmers themselves. The emphasis has to be on a farmer-centered approach which encourage his active participation.
Rural finance. In order to achieve viable financial systems there should be a stronger emphasis on savings mobilization, including incentive interest rates, and the focus should be on a demand-led credit approach rather than a supply-led one.
Extension work. There is much scope to develop a more cost effective and viable extension programme focussing on appropriate packages developed with the active support of farmers and making gull use of rural extension intermediaries such as NGOs, market places and radio. The proposed packages should take into account individual farmers differences instead of having a standardized form. If transport cost (cars and motorcycles) are too high, more cost effective means of diffusion e.g. radio and low cost intermediaries such as informal groups, rural schools, churches, market places and traders, and an effective feed-back system should be used.
Routine maintenance of feeder roads by villages. The rehabilitation of roads is only a waste of time and money if the maintenance, with the support of villagers is not effective. Routine maintenance has to receive priority in design and implementation of the project in order to ensure the sustainability of the feeder road rehabilitation.
29 March 1990