Agricultural Development Project on the Mainland (1993)

Interim evaluation

The project was designed to build institutions and provide the platform for future development. Overall, only modest production increases were expected given the pilot nature of the project. Accordingly, this evaluation does not measure impact in economic terms. Instead, it seeks to determine the degree to which the project has created a favorable setting for regional development, and whether it has provided the information required for a possible second project. The evaluation aims at drawing out "lessons learned", useful in design and implementation of future projects in Equatorial Guinea.

Evaluation methodology

Methodology for evaluation

Primary as well as secondary data sources were used. The mission conducted a Rapid Diagnostic Survey in 20 villages, selected at random from the Population Census list. In 13 of these villages, project activities had been or were conducted. A total of 60 interviews were conducted: 20 with groups and 40 with households. Data were collected inter alia on transport, farming systems, marketing and prices. Additional interviews were held with farmers, both men and women, government officials, and health and education services personnel in the project area. Other projects active in the area were visited.

A proper base line study at project inception was not undertaken. Reliable information is not available with which to measure quantitative changes in production and incomes over time. The ex-ante study (Estudio de Base) provides limited information and cannot be used for comparisons. Other information for the region is not available, except for a population census.

Expected benefits

The SAR defined the qualitative and quantitative benefits expected from the project. Qualitative benefits expected were: (i) improved staff capabilities in the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, through project staff training; (ii) strengthened village organizations; and (iii) improved living conditions at village level, through provision of implements, clean drinking water and diversification of the local diet.

Quantitative benefits expected would consist mainly of increased coffee production, and associated foreign exchange earnings were estimated at US$ 425,000. Coffee yields were estimated to rise by 10% because of availability of inputs/tools, but cultivated area would not expand. The coffee rehabilitation and replanting program was expected to generate an internal rate of return of 15% to 20%, depending on the extent of quality improvement. Apart from coffee production, quantitative benefits of the project support could not be measured in strict economic/financial terms. But, it was believed that main components were economically justified.

Distribution of implements and tools would be judged in terms of farmers' adoption rates. Trial and demonstration benefits would far outweigh costs, particularly in the long term. Village water supply program would reduce time spent by women in fetching water; and incidence of water borne diseases would fall.

Project context

The country

The territory of Equatorial Guinea comprises five islands and the mainland, with 28 051 Kms2 and a population of 356 100. The capital Malabo is located on Bioko, the main island with 2 017 Kms2 and 75 420 inhabitants. The continental region has 26 000 Kms2 and 274 350 inhabitants. Climate is tropical with two rainy and two dry seasons per year and an average temperature of 25oC. Agriculture, forestry and fishing represent 70% of GNP; recently petroleum production was initiated. Agriculture is mainly of the semi-subsistence type, whereas cocoa and coffee produced for export are grown on medium size farms, the remnants of large plantations. The country previously was a large exporter of cocoa and coffee (60 000 tons of cocoa in 1969), but because of domestic political problems and falling world market prices production and exports stagnated.

At the time of project design in 1985, the economy was stagnating. Production capacity had been impaired, productivity had fallen and agricultural support services and physical infrastructure were no longer maintained. Food production was no longer meeting domestic demand. Living conditions had deteriorated. The government is now trying to bring back the economy to its levels in the sixties. Support services are improving. Small producers are marketing a larger surplus.

The region

The project region, located in the Northeastern corner of the continental part of the country, borders Cameroon to the north and Gabon to the east. The region comprises 3 321 Km2, or 12% of that of the entire country. Its population is 66 000, or 22% of total population. Average density is 20 persons/Km2, larger than the national density estimated at 11 persons/Km2.

The rural population represents 90% of the total and resides in about 150 villages with an average of 400 inhabitants. The region is the site for the third largest city in the country, Ebebiyin. The region comprises an estimated 6 000 agricultural production units.

The climate is tropical with 2 000 mm. average annual rainfall and a mean temperature of 24oC. The natural vegetation is rain forest. Soils have low fertility. The region, once active and prosperous, was stagnating at the time of project design and implementation.

Project design

Appropriateness of design

The SAR properly defined constraints and the regional development potential. The project was designed to explore regional comparative advantage in production and trade of other crops than coffee and cocoa.

Semi-subsistence production remains constrained by limited labor not land. The dominant production system is shifting agriculture, which reflects the abundance of unused agricultural land. Hence, the scope for permanent cultivation is limited without physical infrastructure and marketing facilities that induce an intensification over and above that being slowly provided through the population growth. If food based semi-subsistence agriculture were to fill the vacuum left by cocoa and coffee, it would require improved technology directed towards raising productivity of labor, the primary limiting factor in production.

Stated objectives and implicit assumptions

The SAR stated five objectives:

(a) Improving coffee production and as a result farm incomes;

(b) Increasing and diversifying production of food crops;

(c) Raising labor productivity, especially for women;

(d) Improving health conditions; and

(e) Institution building as a platform for future development programs.

Several assumptions are implicit in project design: with better technology agriculture would respond to market demand both domestic and that across borders; output would expand. Focus on alternative cash crops, higher productivity and earnings would increase men's participation in agriculture.

Project components

The SAR included seven components, and without coffee production the subsequent Plan of Operations (PLANOP) retained six (see Table 1). The PLANOP was an updated version of the SAR and intended to be complementary. It was not sufficiently detailed and elaborated upon. For instance, the opportunities for designing a structured approach to participation of beneficiaries were missed. The IFAD staff did not succeed in elaborating further in setting out the process and modalities for ensuring an improved participation. In turn, the project management with TA failed to correct the situation.

Strategy

The strategy was well designed, direct and simple: in the medium term, the project sought to introduce better cultivation practices and raise labor productivity of traditional crops. Support for coffee and cocoa production was intended to generate immediate production increases, which although limited, would provide working capital and time for shifting to alternative crops. The basic steps were set out for raising agricultural production, given the constraints in the region.

Project components were appropriate. The design reflected the weak institutional base and the limited government capacity to support the project. The project would be modest in scope and pilot in nature. It should initially rely on national institutions, focus on the village level, and utilize simple and proven technical solutions which responded to clearly understood needs. Its purpose was to establish a basis for future development, both in technical and institutional terms.

But the strategy had missing parts. Although basic assumptions were correct and logical, they were not elaborated upon. The rationale for selection of components was not transparent. This absence of clarity may explain why in practice crops different from those of the traditional plot came to be emphasized. The design also reflected technical rather than economic and social considerations. Implicitly, the design presupposed that the project - without feed back from participants and verification from farmers' fields under conditions of no subsidy - could successfully directly introduce production technology that would be readily adopted by women and men. The design did not set out to obtain data and feed back on returns to labor in alternative cropping activities, on traditional fallow systems as against crops on permanent fields. The drinking water component was the only component where an element of participation was included.

Number of beneficiaries

The project set out to implement components supporting production in 15 villages and involving 1 350 families (Table 2). But it should be noted that the well component covered not less than 34 villages.

Table 1. PADREM - Beneficiaries, 1987-1990


Activities
1987
1988
1989
1990
TOTAL
New Families No.
300
450
350
250
1350
Total Families No.
300
750
1100
1350
1350
Total Villages No.
3
9
13
15
15

Villages would be selected according to willingness to participate, number of inhabitants, and accessibility by road.

Project cost, disbursement and status

Implementation, starting in 1987, was to last four years, but because of delays, the project was extended to terminate in December 1993. The total loan represents USD 1 600 000, there is a grant of USD 800 000 and the government contributes 13% of the loan. The loan is for 50 years, at 1% annual service charge and a grace period of 10 years. Total disbursements per October 1992 were USD 1 482 000, the grant has been fully used, and the government has deposited USD 38 500 of its contribution. Unspent funds were USD 170 000. (Table 3).

Table 2. PADREM - Project Costs by Categories

October 30, 1992, - Thousand US $ -

Cat Distribution Budget Disbursed % Achievement
Ia Construction 175.2 176.3 100
Ib Drinking Water Program 99.8 68.3 68
II Vehicles 187.2 172.0 92
III Office, Housing 77.6 76.1 98
IV Agricultural Tools, inputs 249.2 300.8 121
V Technical Assistance 237.5 185.0 78
VI Operating Costs 463.5 502.0 108
VII Authorized Fund Advance 110.0 -- --
VIII With no assignation 260.0 1.3 --
  TOTAL LOAN 1 600 1 482 93
  GRANT Technical Assistance 800 800 100
  TOTAL LOAN PLUS GRANT 2 400 2 282 95
  NATIONAL CONTRIBUTION 208 156 75
  TOTAL LOAN+GRANT+NAT. 2 608 2 438 94

Source: Project Accounts

Project organization

The executing national agency is the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, The Project Implementation Unit is composed of a Director, initially under a technical assistant contract with BDPA-SCETAGRI and the government. In Malabo, there is a project co-director. The extension unit is composed of seven persons. The operation of two applied research stations, buildings, vehicles and other equipment is entirely funded by the project.

Project implementation

Project chronology

In May 1982, the Equatorial Guinea Government requested a loan to rehabilitate its agricultural sector. The identification mission visited the country in June, 1982. The formulation mission prepared a document in June 1983; the appraisal report was completed in August, 1984, and updated in January, 1985 after the county's entry into the FCFA monetary system. Loan negotiations took place in February, 1985, the financing contract was signed in April, 1985. The project became effective in December, 1985. The first project manager arrived in October, 1986. The PLANOP was prepared in June, 1987. UNVs, vehicles and equipment arrived at the end of first semester, 1988.

Stages in implementation

Three periods can be distinguished in project implementation:

In the first period (Sept. 1987 - Dec. 1988), the rehabilitation of project houses and office buildings was completed; the first group of vehicles and motorcycles was in operation. Marketing of cocoa was initiated. New food crops technology was introduced. Trials and limited village demonstrations of horticulture took place. Goat raising was introduced in enclosed areas. The latter set out to generate manure that could be bought by the project from the participants. But these activities were not successful. The project bought cocoa and sold it at a loss in the open market; the enclosed goat raising resulted in malnutrition, disease and about 30 % of these animals died.

Understandably, confidence in the project management diminished. Personal relations between national personnel and technical assistance were poor. The first project manager left the project in December, 1988.

In the second period (Jan. 1989 - May 1992), with a new project manager, project activities were oriented to: (i) vegetable garden production; (ii) introducing technology for permanent cultivation, to provide an alternative to the shifting agriculture prevailing in the area; (iii) poultry production; and (iv) water supply. Complementary activities were supply of tools, marketing and transport of products. Permanent lots were based on maize and beans and not on main traditional food crops (groundnuts, cassava). Marketing and input supply were subsidized. A group of extension agents and the technical unit were in full operation. Vehicles and motorcycles were replaced. A small mill for feed production was in operation as well as a repair shop. Buildings and facilities in the two experimental stations, housing and offices for staff were constructed. The contract of the Project Manager was not extended.

In the current third period (June 1992 - to present), the foreign technical assistance staff has departed. Subsidies have been eliminated or are phased out. So far few changes have been made to technical recommendations, although the use of compost is being promoted. The water wells program was completed.

Implementation of components

The project, although designed to be initiated in 1986, became effective in 1987 based on the PLANOP; although this documents states that objectives are kept in line with the original document, there are important differences. The PLANOP components were not executed as intended. More seriously, the PLANOP did not attempt to address the almost total exclusion of traditional agricultural crops from support. With this shortcoming, the project did not contribute to regional development to the degree expected.

The detailed comments below refer to the PLANOP list of components:

Support to agricultural production

This component was supposed to become the cornerstone of the project to develop a better technology for the shifting cultivation system as well as to

support permanent crops, but performance was not in line with expectations. A relevant elaborated strategy was never set out and operationalised. Hence, confusion and ambiguity may still remain within the project; the need to gradually improve upon traditional fallow systems was not clearly spelled out; instead the project set out to directly shift farmers to the cultivation of permanent fields. This is a serious mistake since with abundant land farmers optimise returns to labor but not to land and are less interested in permanent fields. While some experimentation on food crops was intended, little was achieved. Crop testing was initially practiced in two applied research stations (Obut and Bidjabidjan), but not with the detail and guidelines as set out in PLANOP.

Trials

Testing of new horticulture crops, maize and beans varieties was carried out prior to demonstrations in village fields. Several varieties of each of the horticultural crops were tested. A small collection of fruit trees had been established, but only for observation.

Observation trials on intercropping of maize and beans with leucaena were conducted for two years (four cycles). No further organized research trials were conducted: traditional crops such as groundnuts, cassava, plantain were never included in testing.

Vegetable gardens

Tomatoes, onions, cabbage, and carrots were demonstrated in vegetable gardens (Table 4). Seeds and technical recommendations were satisfactory for the start-up period. Sites for vegetable gardens were well selected according to soil quality and availability of water from springs or wells. An extension agent was responsible for group based training of villagers in the production techniques. The groups were visited at least once per week. Production was bought by the project and sold in Bata and regional markets. Currently, vegetables are sold through private channels and the project no longer intervenes in marketing.

Table 3. Summary of Vegetable Gardens Activities, 1988 to 1991

Activities 1988B 1989A 1989B 1990A 1990B 1991A 1991B TOTAL
Vegetable Gardens 1 5 8 12 15 14 14 15
Participants No. 25 105 167 247 325 223 209 562
Hectares No. 0.08 0.47 0.14 0.41 0.54 0.28 0.28 0.54
Production Ton. n.a. 0.5 0.7 1.05 0.76 0.86 0.85 42.67
Source: BDPA-SCETAGRI. Technical Assistance Report, 1991
A= First cropping cycle. Begins in March, ends in July.
B= Second cropping cycle. Begins in September, ends in December/January.

Participants report that earnings from vegetable gardens represent 33% of their family cash income.

Permanent fields

The project as implemented has generated major confusion with regard to the role and management of permanent fields. The fields were intended largely as a demonstration activity with a total area of 0.25 ha. But, in practice, villagers assumed that cultivation of permanent fields had to be an income generating activity, even though the average plot size of participants was limited to merely 0.013 ha. Participating farmers, until recently, were paid directly by the project for crops produced. The project failed to provide sufficient information to correct, at least among some participants, a notion that has remained that this cultivation system was merely a continuation of the previous plantation type of labor system. Perhaps, there is still confusion among project staff as to the nature and purpose of permanent fields.

The agronomic practices introduced were not satisfactory. Sites were selected without soil testing and permanent plots were established in 15 villages. Their purpose was to demonstrate new improved practices: use of simple tools, row seeding, weeding and pest control. An additional use was to produce maize for feed, once poultry production was introduced. Maize and beans were rotated every six months, but inter-cropping or other crops were not tested. The project was designed to assist women. But no trials were conducted on groundnuts; this represent the most important crop for women in the traditional system, and on which they spend 70% of their time. The original recommendations in the SAR for variety and rotations were superior to those actually carried out. It is not easy to understand why the original recommendations as to variety and rotations were not carried out. In addition, soils were left bare, without green cover, after harvest to the next planting. Compost or mulching were not used.

Table 4. Summary of Permanent Crop Activities, 1988 to 1992

Activities 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 TOTAL
Permanent Fields No. 1 16 44 36 63 44
Participants No. 30 154 656 638 657 671
Area Cultivated            
Maize Ha. 0.02 0.88 10.65 13.54    
Beans Ha. 0.02 4.15 16.66 16.19    
Production            
Maize Ton.   0.25 10.60 13.30    
Beans Ton.   0.90 5.20 6.40    

On the permanent plots, land was cleared and fenced through communal work, whereas seeding, cultivation and harvesting were carried out separately by each family. The project provided tools, seed and inputs at no cost. It bought beans which was sold in the open market and maize, used in the feed mill.

Participants complained of high labor inputs and low returns of cultivation in permanent fields.

Poultry

Support has been directed towards egg production sold in the regional markets, in Bata, Mongomo and Gabon. Support comprised provision of chicken, feed and drugs. The latter at first were provided free, but are now fully paid for. Poultry is becoming an important income generating activity in the region, given local and external demand. Producers have attained the technical competence required to compete in the market. But three constraints have to be overcome: irregular supply of feed, of freshly hatched chicken, and in addition there are sanitary problems.

Improving product quality

The project did not improve the quality of coffee and cocoa, since these crops were to be phased out. Vegetable production was improved through new varieties, and training in selection and packaging before marketing.

Marketing improvement storage and transport support

The project was heavily involved in marketing. In the first phase, cocoa was purchased and sold in the open market at a loss. In the second phase, the project marketed most of the vegetables and eggs produced. Its involvement in marketing is now minimal; it provides truck transport services charging market prices. Private traders ensure the actual marketing, even though a proper self financed system has not been established for marketing on a larger scale. The project should be commended for taking steps to acquire better information on marketing opportunities.

Extension program

The extension unit serves three districts in seven extension routes and is responsible for a large portion of project activities and operating costs. Six extension workers, including one woman, provide advice for the cultivation of permanent fields, vegetable gardens and poultry practices. PADREM has not yet begun to pay sufficient attention to gender issues. But the female extension officer has introduced among women, a participatory group based extension approach; such approaches need to be introduced by all the officers.

Drinking water component

This was a successful component and the performance was commendable. Fifteen villages have been furnished with wells or springs for domestic water use. This component was completed in September 1992, almost on schedule. Villagers contributed in kind towards construction, providing labor and local construction materials. The setting up of a competent well digging team by the project should be regarded as an achievement.

Training component

This was an important component, but performance was not in line with expectations. Basic training was provided to the national co-director, the UNV accountant and short training in Cameroon for the UNV and the counterpart for the drinking water program. Extension workers also received training, but courses were shorter than needed and as planned for in the SAR and PLANOP documents. The national staff did not receive training in methods of diagnostics and simple experimentation. The performance in providing training is not satisfactory, since resources and opportunities for training were available.

Selling of tools and inputs

The project operates three stores in the region. They sell basic tools and inputs to small farmers like machetes, hoes, axes, shovels, boots, seeds. Total sales for 1988-1992 amount to USD 115 000, and which proceeds are deposited into a revolving fund; this fund was intended to maintain support to farmers when the current project comes to an end.

Studies and support surveys

Several studies were envisaged to support technical assistance, provide basic information for components, like water supply and to be carried out for monitoring and evaluation purposes. But, only the ex-ante survey was undertaken.

Assessment of project execution, management and technical assistance

In reviewing implementation performance, the special circumstances of this project need to be understood. It is true that project execution was made difficult because of the isolation of the project area in the far north-east corner of the mainland. With a distance of 360 km even to the nearest urban center, where banking services can be found (Bata), contacts with MoA and government agencies were limited. Supply of services was often interrupted. Disbursements were delayed. Typically, repeated small consignments were purchased and procurement has been time consuming and cumbersome. Bulk purchases in Cameroon were not always adequate.

In the initial years, the main issues in implementation were staff related. The UNVs and counterpart staff arrived late, and this applies also to the housing and offices provided, and to the transportation equipment procured. Although the project Director was nominated promptly, the Co-director was not appointed until September 1987, a year later; remaining national staff were mobilized only between December 1987 and April 1989. The first Project Director (TA) did not succeed to establish smooth working relationships with his project staff, nor with the Project Coordinator in MOA in Malabo. The insufficient liaison caused many difficulties; e.g. issues arose over contracts and salaries of the national employees.

Moreover, the Government did not provide its share of counterpart funds for project operating and maintenance costs. Finally, these problems were compounded by dismal accounting procedures: the project accounting system did not begin to operate in line with expectations until 1989. With limited capabilities, the Government did little to guide or resolve issues emerging during implementation.

This adverse environment affected not only implementation negatively, but may explain, at least in part, the absence of guidance on project strategy. Perhaps, the project management was simply overwhelmed by daily project execution issues. Nevertheless, it remains that the project management staff was not well selected in terms of their technical skills and overall suitability.

Technical assistance was not in line with expectations and the contract has terminated. A Guinean Co-director is currently acting Director. The UNVs performed satisfactorily but, overall, technical assistance personnel did not possess the required skills to train the national staff in methods of participation and trial design.

Project impact and prospects

Project objectives were only partly accomplished perhaps in part because external conditions were difficult. The project concept and design was never fully translated into a set of operational guidelines and ensuing project activities. Economic, institutional and infrastructure conditions prevailing in the region and country, contributed to results that are not in line with expectations. In retrospect, the understandable common preoccupation with delays in procurement and disbursements and with financial discipline in accounting may have preempted the needed more analytical efforts to take stock of the project, to assess its overall direction and speed of achievements.

Impact on regional agricultural development

(a) The impact of the project has been less than expected. The project as implemented did not follow the original strategy reflected in the SAR and the PLANOP design. It did not support as expected the main traditional field crops; the original recommendations in the SAR for crops, varieties and rotations were not tested. The required socio-economic studies were not undertaken with which to understand better the socio-economic conditions in the region. These omissions represent a fundamental weakness in implementation.

(b) The current shifting cultivation in Equatorial Guinea, as elsewhere, is an efficient method of production at low population density; the project and its technical advisors prematurely promoted an accelerated intensification and the use of fertilizer.

(c) The project, while failing to find viable alternatives to shifting cultivation, has shown the potential for vegetables. It has demonstrated that there is an emergent market demand for vegetables. While goat raising in enclosures was a failure, poultry production has become an important production line: the market demand for eggs is growing.

(d) The project's extension efforts assisted producers to become more aware of market conditions and expected returns. Producers were taught to understand better market demand, to consider quality of produce as well as marketing channels, transport and road conditions. The project has revealed the various obstacles that producers and the region need to surmount to take advantage of natural resources and markets.

(e) Participatory processes in extension have been largely non-existent and lessons have been learned through a painful and socially costly process. The project while not performing in line with expectations, gradually has begun to slowly charter a course for future agricultural production. Lessons are being learned, but at the cost of failures in crops and goat production and resulting discontent. At least initially, participants lost confidence in the competence of those guiding the project. There is certainly a popularly felt demand for basing a potential second project on a strategy and project design that reflects farmer participation and feed back and far more solid technical advice and a technically competent supervision.

(f) Food security has improved mainly through the successful vegetable cultivation and poultry production. Output gains are limited except for egg production. The latter is particularly important since Equatorial Guinea is a net importer. For example, two years ago the region and the Bata market depended heavily on eggs from Cameroon.

(g) The project represents the most important institution building effort in the region. It has started, albeit too slowly, to provide the needed applied research on crop techniques and fallow period reduction. A second project, better managed, must permit farmers to reap the benefits of applied and adaptive research; the teaching-learning process about improved cultivation practices needs to be differently designed.

(h) The revolving fund created by the selling of tools was innovative and timely. In absence of a credit/banking system, the project provided the only source of working capital for the acquisition of basic tools and inputs. To an extent, in the case of assistance to poultry producers, it operated as a short term credit outlet to farmers. In light of difficult communications and associated delays in fund release - although contrary to purpose - this revolving fund also permitted the project to operate with sufficient working capital and to avoid a stand still.

(i) The project also subsidized transport and marketing of agricultural produce. It has prepared the ground for the taking over by private agents of these activities in the near future.

(j) The project introduced poultry feed processing. A small plant to produce poultry feed is successfully operating, although it still depends on concentrated animal protein, vitamins and minerals imported from Cameroon. Privatization has been envisaged and should be encouraged.

Subsidies and sustainability of interventions

While subsidies possibly were needed at the outset as an incentive, producers have demonstrated that some activities like egg and vegetable production are profitable. Raised marketed production of eggs and vegetables and the involvement of private traders, attest to the sustainability of the support provided.

Impact on environment

The dominant system of shifting agriculture may create a potential environment hazard unless production technology is improved. At current population density and technology, a family requires about 25 ha. for actual cultivation and fallow (soil fertility regeneration). A land constraint will ultimately develop as a consequence of population growth, unless appropriate technology for intensified agriculture is provided. The ensuing deforestation will negatively affect the environment. The project has begun to search for paths for better agricultural practices and intensification, which would allow higher output without endangering the environment.

Impact on income

With RRDH (Rapid Rural Diagnostic for Households) information, it was estimated that marketed vegetable production has contributed not less than 33 % of family cash income. In comparison, the income from permanent fields is entirely negligible.

Impact on nutrition

An undisputed achievement of the project is its impact on nutrition and on diet diversification: the quantity and quality of food intake has improved.

Impact of drinking water component

Drinking water has improved in quality and availability, and the incidence of water borne diseases has fallen. The time and effort spent in fetching water by women and children has fallen. According to the RRDG (Rapid Rural Diagnostic for Groups), women living in villages with a well opened by the project, spent 10 minutes for water provision, compared to 30 to 45 minutes for those living in villages without a well.

Impact on gender division of labor

(a) The status of family food production agriculture has improved in the Fang culture that prevails in the project area. The emergence of vegetables as an important cash crop, once coffee and cacao disappeared, has triggered a revision of cultural values. During the interviews for the RRDH, several men referred proudly to their vegetable production. Since women labor is the limiting factor, this is an important achievement for future agricultural development.

(b) Women allocate their resources in line with rewards although they are constrained by customs. A sign of warning, nevertheless, is the increase in women's daily labor. Cultivation in the vegetable gardens and permanent fields has increased women's daily labor burden by 2,5 hours; women's participation in project activities was estimated at 17,5 hours, compared to their normal working day of 14 to 15 hours.

(c) On the positive side, women's participation in project activities has given a higher cultural status to their labor. The mission survey undertaken suggests that there is more family harmony when the woman provides cash to the family.

Supervision

The loan and the grant are administered by the UNDP Office for Project Services - OPS. It is true that there were logistical difficulties in supervising this project. But, nevertheless, the supervision of the project did not perform in line with expectations. The supervision missions did not pay attention to the original project concept and the objectives as set out in the SAR. Equally serious, the supervision missions did not detect and correct emerging issues related to the project's faulty methodology for promoting interventions directly at the farm level without trials and experimentation. The required type of technical agro-economic advice for technology improvement within shifting cultivation systems was not furnished.

Neither did the supervision missions propose measures to ensure sustainability of project activities.

Recommendations

Project results, although modest and not in line with those initially expected, have begun to charter the course for future development. The location of the project offers promise in terms of potential across borders trade. The project area is located in the most densely populated area on the mainland. Its vicinity to markets in Cameroon and Gabon facilitates agricultural production and an export led growth. The potential demand for agricultural produce/food across the border exceeds the region's current supply capacity. Climate and temperature conditions are favorable for expanding agricultural production. However, supply is constrained by limited labor and several non appropriate inputs and practices; solutions require applied research and a different extension approach. Production capacity can be increased through better seeds, cropping practices, soil fertility conservation practices, improved transport and road facilities, introduction of new crops, higher returns to labor for men and women, and support for village and private sector participation.

The mission therefore recommends:

Consideration of a new project for the region

The experiences to date provide a base for redesign and improvement of support services. But it is likely that the Government sector will remain institutionally weak and underfunded. Moreover, prospects for a more successful future development of the area will depend largely to the extent to which a new project could devise, test and diffuse to farmers, simple ways of increasing labor productivity and income. This means a more active role for applied research; a far more participatory approach within extension and training. More reliance will have to be placed on inducing villagers' organizations and the private sector to become more active in local development. A future project must become far more active as a catalytic agent in development. The current methodology for adaptive research, extension and feed back from farmers and participants is not satisfactory.

Development path for the region

The current project has been tied to a limited number of activities and crops. It is true that its role is not just to meet production targets or reaching a number of beneficiaries, but to devise the path for the agricultural development of the region. The project should establish the rationale and priorities for the support of new and traditional crops, processing and market support. Only agricultural activities which are proven by market studies and confirmed by farmer managed on-farm trials should be supported. The plan for research and extension should reflect economic criteria and expected socio-economic benefits to participating households.

Capturing the potential for an export led growth

The mission recommends that studies of demand for produce across the borders be undertaken and IFAD initiatives in this direction are commendable. Such studies should identify as a matter of priority also so called non tariff barriers to increasing the across border trade from the project area. A dialogue should be entered into with the Government on how to diminish or eliminate the incidence of any non tariff barriers that will be reported on through such studies.

Participation

To begin with, before final design of a possible second project, farmers must be informed about the development strategy proposed, expected project objectives and modalities of implementation. The design must emphasize participation from initial design through need assessments and a dialogue with farmers to on-farm trials and feed back in extension. The few well performing permanent fields may be used as demonstrations or sites for group meetings. The vital distinction between pure demonstration plots and actual independent on-farm adoption must become transparent. Farmers should agree to the design of demonstration plots. If labor is required to set up and manage demonstration plots, such labor should be compensated.

New crops for permanent fields

The project strategy needs to redefine the crops and practices introduced on the permanent fields as well as the purpose of these fields. New crops and additional crop rotation patterns, and not only maize and beans, must be tested in the permanent field. In addition to composting or mulching, other methods to keep the fertility of soils must be tried, e.g. legume crops, rotations and inter-cropping. Soybeans, sorghum, peanuts, and most crops that are currently found in the traditional fields, should be tested in the permanent fields.

Traditional fields

For the remaining project period, and for a possible future project, the traditional field must become an important component. There would be substantial gains if improved seeds for these crops are introduced together with technology and practices to raise labor productivity. Rice has been ignored by the project and should be introduced through on-farm trials. If simple rice huskers are installed, post harvest labor constraints could be easily overcome. Rice could become an important crop in the project area.

Small livestock

The project should investigate the scope for supporting in the future small livestock production (pigs, goats and sheep). The accumulation of small livestock represents an important path for capital accumulation.

Elimination of subsidies on inputs and in marketing

Elimination of subsidies would ensure that crops and practices actually adopted reflect true producer and consumer preferences. Marketing and transport were carried out entirely by the project and producers were heavily subsidized. Inputs like seeds, fertilizers and chemicals were handed to villagers without payment. This strategy is being modified: the project is currently marketing only a fraction of produce; it charges for transport services and for inputs. But, from now on, marketing must be of a different kind: the project must completely phase out its direct intervention and only provide general market information; its role should be to identify potential markets, and to furnish practical information for village organizations and private entrepreneurs.

Applied research in a participatory mode

New crops and techniques must be tested first on-station and subsequently through farmer managed on-farm trials. Information and data must be registered for every trial, so as to record treatments, yields and reasons for success or failure. Results from these protocols must be discussed with farmers, males and females, and their respective comments and responses should be recorded.

Road construction component

Roads need to be improved and a future project needs to improve tertiary roads; drifts and small bridges also need to be constructed and participation of villagers and their organizations should be sought both for building and maintenance.

Broaden the concept of extension

Besides agriculture, extension agents must work on activities related to women'_ involvement in production. A dialogue should be established between farmers and agents; the latter should look carefully into traditional plot practices and techniques. Rotation, inter-cropping, soil fertility and alternative sources to maintain fertility and yields at sustainable levels, must be part of the new agenda. This implies a broader concept of extension and training of agents that would include also women's labor in post harvesting and household maintenance activities.

Labor loads of women

Technical assistance and extension agents should seek to alleviate the intensive work performed by women. The role of women in post harvest activities should also be reviewed and the feasibility of introducing simple processing equipment should be investigated.

Drinking water wells

This program met its objectives and was terminated in September 1992. Villages are satisfied with these wells. The project possesses a well trained team and equipment in good working condition. Unicef has a program for 90 wells for the mainland, but there is an excess demand. The new project should set up a mechanism for generating higher levels of contributions from participants for the well construction as well as for maintenance.

Health

The general health conditions of the rural population is not satisfactory even though the incidence of water borne diseases has fallen with the construction of the project supported well program. Villagers report health as one of their major problems. A future project should enroll a NGO to improve health conditions in the area.

Increased training efforts

(a) Training methodology

The broad strategy outlined requires an intensive training of the extension personnel, at least one well designed study tour, and a series of visits by a trainer. For the present project, training has been shorter than expected and programmed. In the future, training at all levels must be an important part of the resources assigned. The project specific training must be linked, and integrated, with other nation wide training that the government is implementing.

(b) Emphasis in training

The future project staff must be well trained and exposed to methods of diagnosis and economic analysis as well as to techniques for participation and empowerment. The previous command approach to development must be replaced with an approach that is geared to soliciting farmers for their own agenda. Means to this end comprise the application of farm budgets and economic analysis together with diagnostic surveys, monitoring of adoption rates, applied research and farmer managed on-farm trials. The manpower profile of future project staff must incorporate economic and technical skills in farm budget analysis and in the conducting of rapid diagnostic studies.

Financial discipline

An audit of the project is a required precondition before a follow-on project can be approved.

Project supervision

Project supervision of a possible second phase project would have to pay far more attention to reviewing (i) processes for training extension staff in participatory methods of quantitative diagnostics and feed back from farmers; (ii) agro-economic analysis of shifting cultivation systems; and (iii) the maintenance of financial discipline and accountancy standards.

 

Date

02 April 1993

Countries

Languages

English