Second Ceara Integrated Rural Development Project (1994)
Rural poverty in Brazil is concentrated in the Northeast region of the country. Per capita income in this region is only half the average for the country. Seventy percent of Brazilian farms with less than five hectares are in the Northeast. It lags behind the southern region in many social indicators. For instance, 55 percent of its rural population are illiterate or have less than one year of schooling.
These small farmers face very harsh conditions for making a living out of that semiarid area. Rain variability among and within years makes agricultural production extremely risky. Subsistence of the farmers is constantly at jeopardy. Over the centuries, small farmers have adjusted to these conditions with production systems intercropping a cash crop, cotton, with beans and corn. Cassava, also an important crop in the region, makes up with beans the basis of nutrition for the local population.
The area was colonized by portuguese citizens who were granted large tracts of area as private property. This was the way Portugal used to guarantee control over the colony. Private colonization of the plantations required labour provided by small, subsistence farmers living around the larger states. This was the origin of the dual agricultural structure of a few plantation owners and large farmers, and many small, subsistence, part time farmers part time agricultural workers. The labour market was the link between the two groups, but their relationship was one of dependency due to the lack of alternative employment for small farmers.
Despite Brazil's high rate of growth during more than four decades up to the end of the 1970s, Northeast poverty did not change significantly. The region had its economic and social infrastructure improved, but poverty reduction is a permanent challenge. "Colonialism" remains in the dependency of small farmers on large landowners that concentrate political and economic power.
The driving forces of the initial colonization path by portuguese settlers shaped today's land distribution and power, and economic, social, and political relationships between peasants and landlords.
By the time the project began to be executed, Brazil was facing a difficult economic situation. Oil prices had increased twice during the 1970, interest rates in the international capital market had jumped threefold within a short time, agricultural commodity prices had fallen. Previous tentative to isolate the internal economy from those external effects aggravated the internal fiscal situation. In this context, many development projects will have problems with counterpart resources.
The Second Ceara Integrated Rural Development project had as objective to improve income and living conditions of small farmers through increased productivity in agriculture, and expansion of small scale, nonagricultural activities. Institutional strengthening also was an important objective, given the continued need for rural development efforts in the State of Ceara. IFAD's project focused on one of the poorest regions of the world, an area where poor small farmers make up a large share of the population. This is in line with IFAD's mandate.
To achieve its objectives the project included the following components: agricultural services of research and extension; social infrastructure improvements, both for health and for education purposes; improvement of physical infrastructure, mainly rural roads, small irrigation schemes, marketing facilities; marketing services to control and improve produce quality, guaranteed crop purchasing mechanism; incentive to small-scale non-agricultural enterprises to diversify the local economy and expand employment opportunities; other activities complementary to the project, like credit, were taken completely by the Brazilian government.
By the late 1970s, development experts considered integrated projects to be the best way to address rural development in poor areas. The Second Ceara project is an example of this kind of thinking. In terms of prevalent conditions in the rural area of the State of Ceara, the rationale of the project was correct. It addressed all the technical, economic, and institutional constraints for development of small farmers potential for more productive employment and better living conditions.
Some lessons and special aspects
The project tried to do too much in too many places. Covering the whole state and involving so many activities would be difficult even in normal periods. Project execution had several problems. Counterpart resources, due to the fiscal crisis of the 1980s, were not forthcoming as programmed and frequently were available only after long delays. Local institutions were not prepared to take charge of a large project, where so many components and activities had to be executed in many places at the same time. Boll weevil destroyed cotton production, historically the local cash crop for large and small farmers. Five years of droughts disrupted local capacity to maintain livestock, another important activity in the local production system.
In response to the extreme drought conditions during project implementation years, the federal government created a large emergency programme with resources equivalent many times the total cost of the project, deviating institutions from their responsibilities with project execution to the work in the emergency programme. These adversities occurred during the period of project execution. Despite all these events, several components could be executed and some exceeded targets. However, execution of the project fell far below targets. Agencies efficacy was low, and coordination difficult.
Contracting services out for specialized institutions was not used. Project resources were seen more like additionals to regular budgets of the executing agencies. In some cases resources were used mainly for support of salaries of professionals. No real commitment or responsibility could be exacted from those agencies in this way. The project worked well when the Governor of the State of Ceara, by his personal commitment and presiding over the project created State Rural Development Council, pressed for results.
Had conditions been favourable, however, project results would still fall short of targets. Some assumptions of the project were too optimistic to allow achievement of expected results. The main problem was the assumption that there were technologies "appropriated" for small farmers, and that only a small adaptive research effort would be sufficient to provide the extension service with a "good product" to pass on to small farmers. Efforts for generating and for diffusing technology were unbalanced in the project.
Technological problems of small farmers are more, not less, difficult than those for large, commercial farmers. Because technology adoption has to do with technical, economical, and psychological aspects, it is a complicated process to understand and influence. The logic of subsistence farmer is more complicated than the profit maximizing assumption usually applied for large agricultural entrepreneurs. Moreover, expected timing between beginning a specific research programme focused on small farmers and availability of results was untenable.
For these reasons, even if conditions had been favourable, targets for agricultural production and productivity could not be achieved during project life. However, the project initiated the research institution in the effort to focus research on technological needs of small farmers, and this is an important and sustainable accomplishment. Many simple technological solutions already have been developed and adopted by small farmers in the semi-arid zone of the Northeast.
The promotion of small scale nonagricultural enterprises was a component well executed. It counted with the energy of a mission oriented agency, which had done a good work in the capital city of Fortaleza and was able to transfer and adapt its experience to conditions in the interior of the state. This is an effort that deserves continued support.
Land access was an important objective for this area of skewed land distribution. The sensitivity of the subject and the small amount of resources dedicated to the component resulted in little accomplishment in terms of land access. On the other hand, titling was a success, and the reason is that national land policy and programmes were focused on land titling at the time. A strong drive for titling at the national level had obvious reflexes in the region and was the cause for the project surpassing its targets.
Water management is the most serious physical constraint in the area, not only to increase production and yields but also for animals and people subsistence. However, this component was not well executed. Neither water supplying for home consumption in the health component nor small irrigation schemes reached targets. The problem of rain variability and scarcity in the region requires a plan for water management. However, local solutions to small irrigation needs cannot wait for a long term plan, and future agricultural projects should have small irrigation as a basic component. Without it, technology cannot be improved, for risks make it uneconomical.
The project had several positive points. It introduced the idea of targeting small farmers, a change with respect to previous projects in the region. Organization of farmers for participation, an idea politically difficult in the area, was introduced by the project. The project also served as a link and learning process in the series of projects that have been implemented in the State of Ceara, training professionals in planning and executing rural development projects.
There is now the capacity to organize farmers and promote participation. There is the capacity to organize and promote participation of county people for defining local needs and prepare and setting priorities for projects.
Conclusions and recommendations
The Second Ceara project was important for introducing among local rural people the idea of organization and participation. Through the project, the beneficiaries and the professionals involved in project execution gained experience on how to work in a participative way.
For this fact alone, for bridging the transition between old and new concepts, the project has contributed to poverty reduction and to promotion of socioeconomic progress for the rural people in Ceara.
The region is witnessing transformations and future projects will have to deal with these facts. A rapid decrease in the rural population is occurring in the area of the project. People are migrating in search of better working and living conditions. Future projects will have to deal with emigration, its meaning in terms of agriculture in the region, and possibilities. Future perspectives for employment and income in the region will have to be adequately assessed. It is difficult for a project to achieve results when trends point to other directions.
Besides specific projects defined by the communities, and economic infrastructure projects, it will be necessary to finance projects that create processes that are basic to development. Agricultural research, health, and education services have to be strengthened to the point of making returns in the medium term viable. Research results, health, and education require a much stronger commitment than just the building of new facilities.
Like in PAPP now, responsibility for definition of needs and priorities, and for project design and execution, has to rest on local organized groups. International development agencies have to balance the attention they give to appraisal and to execution.
They have to pay more attention to the rational of proposed projects and to the execution capacity of proponents and less to the traditional appraisal methods, and also have to be more involved in project execution. International agencies have to move emphasis and resources from appraisal to execution. IFAD has to adjust to these new trends.
Income Generating Project for Marginal Farmers and Landless (1994)
Physical and Financial Performance: Although the Loan Agreement was signed in January 1988, delays resulted in IFAD credit being utilized only in Year 3 (June 1990): hence and project performance is evaluated only from that date.
Out of the 32,750 beneficiary groups to be formed under the project, 15,130 groups had been formed by July 1993, which is in line with cumulative targets for the three years of the project. This, however, still leaves more than 50% of the target to be met within the remaining two years of the project. Performance in the field of training has been excellent, with a 518 achievement of training targets of beneficiaries, groups and project staff up to this time.
As of June 1993, an amount of USD 9.731 million has been spent, leaving 67% of the total budget still to be spent, and 70% of the IFAD loan still to be disbursed. Likewise, 74% of the credit funds remain unutilized.
Thus, despite good physical progress, credit and financial expenditure have been low, due to three major reasons: first, the delayed start of the project; second, the consciously low financial targets set for the early years of the project; and thirdly, the effects of the double devaluation that has taken place (of 28% of the Indonesian Rupiah against the US dollar, and of 12% of the US dollar against the SDR), which has resulted in an increase (since appraisal) of 43% of the Rupiah value of the remaining SDR funds.
In view of the above circumstances, it is recommended that the project be extended by two years, to finish in 1997 and not 1995.
Credit Performance: The project has disbursed IDR 10.062 million as credit to SFGs up to end July 1993, exceeding the credit target up to this date. Credit has been provided to 9513 groups through the branch network of the Bank Rakyat Indonesia (BRI), the executing bank, in the six provinces of the project's operation, with an average loan of IDR 106 000 per beneficiary.
Institutional Performance: The project is executed by the Agency for Agricultural Education, Training and Extension (AAETE) in the Ministry of Agriculture, which works at field level through a wide network of field extension workers (FEWs). The latter are not under the administrative control of the project and are supposed to spend no more than 30% of their time on project work. Despite the ill-defined lines of command, the system has been flexible enough to work fairly well in practice, its disadvantages being far outweighed by the advantages of using an already existing system with low costs of coverage.
Some changes have, however, been recently announced, which give cause for concern. These envisage the transfer of the staff of the Agricultural Information Centres (AIC), who are responsible for project implementation at the provincial level, to the Agency for Agricultural Research and Development (AARD), which would effectively deprive the project of its staff at provincial level. If these these changes materialize, the mission would urge that needed instructions be issued by the Ministry of Agriculture to ensure that the services of the trained AIC staff at the provincial level continue to be made available to the project.
Training: The project has implemented a very successful training programme. The SAR provided for the training of only 19,000 groups (out of a total of 32,750 groups) in the preparation of their group business plans (GBPs) for their first loans only. The mission recommends that such training be provided to all groups, in respect of their first three loans. The following additions/improvements are also recommended (among many others) in the training programme:
(i) different training packages and materials be prepared and documented for the various target groups;
(ii) more refresher courses be undertaken on a regular basis both for the groups and the FEWs; (iii) the quality and approach of training be re-oriented to become less one-way, and more participatory;
(iv) evaluation of training methods and courses be undertaken on a regular basis;
(v) problem-solving workshops at the provincial level should be re-introduced, since these provide a needed forum for exchange of experience and problem-solving among field workers/ supervisors;
(vi) the participatory field workshop should be re-introduced, involving participation of the beneficiaries and officials in the village setting for participatory problem solving; (vii) and more training should be addressed to strengthening the associations.
Micro-Enterprise Development: This is possibly the area of greatest difficulty for the beneficiaries, many of whom are stagnating in low income activities. It is, therefore, recommended that:
(i) in order to identify appropriate business opportunities, the data collected from the present group business participatory evaluations (undertaken with groups in particular areas) should be processed and circulated;
(ii) training in micro-enterprise development be provided to FEWs and the groups, using the services of qualified NGOs for this purpose;
(iii) group business evaluation workshops at the village level (as started by the project) should be systematically conducted at the village and area levels with the findings disseminated to the groups in the area; and
(iv) in regard to marketing, the project's idea of organizing district marketing exchanges (bringing together the field staff, SFGs and local businessmen in order to identify suitable marketing opportunities in each area) should be expanded; special efforts should be made to open up marketing channels to isolated villages, and to encourage village specialisation in particular labour-intensive enterprises.
Technical Assistance: TA inputs have been well utilized by the project and well integrated into its planning and implementation structure. There is a need for a Senior Planning Adviser to plan the pilot-testing in the four new provinces (recommended by this mission) as well as for for the larger project envisaged under a possible second IFAD loan.
Monitoring and Evaluation: A good monitoring system has been built up by the project, based on a computerized management information system, which is both purposive and functional. The system is working well, making a very useful input into project management and implementation.
It is recommended that greater attention be paid to ongoing evaluation, with an accent on systems that are cost-effective and feasible, with the following components: (i) a repeat of the earlier M2/M3 surveys, which would provide a "before and after" picture of progress/impact; (ii) a system of participatory evaluation, using the group interview technique (involving a regular annual interview of a sample of groups) for providing information on problems of project implementation and of impact; (iii) a series of case studies for a better understanding of emerging issues.
Project Management: Project management has been good. At the provincial level, however, since the provincial co-ordinators do not work full-time for the project, it is recommended that Assistant-Project Managers (PELMA) be appointed on a full-time basis in every province. (It is to be noted that the Loan Agreement provided for full-time staff at the provincial and district levels).
Since the areas presently covered by some provincial offices are too large, it is recommended that the provincial project management units be broken up in the larger provinces of East, Central and West Java, into units of four to five districts, each in charge of a full-time Assistant Project Manager (PELMA), answerable to the Provincial Coordinator. It is also recommended that an Assistant Project Manager for women's activities be appointed in each Provincial Office.
Project Supervision: Project supervision has been good, but it should undertake a closer monitoring of overall financial and credit availabilities (in local currency terms) under the project.
The Flow of Funds: A Special Account has been set up for the disbursement of the IFAD loan. In view of continuing difficulties in the flow of funds, it is recommended that:
(i) the project should apply for reimbursements on a more frequent and regular basis; and
(ii) the initial deposit left in the account should be increased from the current level of US $ 800,000, to US $ 1.3 million.
In regard to credit, the BRI has ceased making its regular contribution towards the 20% of credit funds for the beneficiaries (which it is expected to provide under the SAR). It is, therefore, necessary to insist that when the credit funds from IFAD are completely utilised, the due credit contribution from BRI should be withdrawn from BI and utilised for continuing credit to the beneficiaries.
Although the establishment of a Credit Revolving Fund was specified in the Loan Agreement, unfortunately, this was not specified in the Subsidiary Loan Agreement between the GOI and BRI, and a separate account has not been established for this purpose. Since the BRI feels that it would be difficult to establish such a separate account at this late stage, the mission would recommend that the BRI be called upon to provide a quarterly statement, showing the balance of revolving credit available (including interest due there on) available for further lending to the beneficiaries. It is further recommended that a Letter of Intent be obtained from the BRI to GOI to this effect, in supplementation of the Subsidiary Loan Agreement.
Compliance with Loan Agreement and Assurances: The provisions of the Loan Agreement have been adequately complied with, but with the following partial exceptions:
(i) failure (except in some cases) to provide full-time staff at the provincial and district level; and
(ii) failure to establish a separate account for the Credit Revolving Fund. The mission has made appropriate recommendations in these respects. It is also satisfied that the project accounts are properly/regularly audited.
The Beneficiaries: Up to July 1993, 175,707 households had been identified as being below the poverty line (which is defined as those with an income equivalent of less than the value of 320 kg of rice). The mission is satisfied that the beneficiary selection process (done through two surveys) is adequately rigorous for targeting the poor.
The Groups: The project forms small, homogeneous groups of about 8-16 members. Most groups have been formed by the FEWs (91% of all groups), while a few groups have been formed by voluntary FEWS (not strictly under the project), and much less by NGOs (0.32% of all groups). In regard to group composition, 47% of the groups are all-male, 18% mixed and 35% all-female, as against the project target of 20% of female groups.
Although the project has achieved its targets for group formation for its third year of operation, there are some disturbing signs. First, there are 2010 groups in the credit pipeline, having prepared their GBPs but still awaiting credit, with sometimes very long delays. Secondly, there is the bigger problem of the "dormant" groups, who even 1-3 years after formation, have not shown any indication of life. It is a serious problem when around 23% of the project groups are moribund. The mission would, therefore, recommend that local trouble-shooting consultants be appointed, to investigate these groups, identify their problems, and arrange for the needed inputs to get them going; where this is not possible, they should be dropped from the project list.
Groups and Their Associations: Altogether, 3,395 groups have joined together in a total of 643 associations, averaging 5.3 groups per association. The latter are being formed by the groups to perform three major economic functions: (i) financial intermediation; (ii) purchase and supply of inputs; and (iii) marketing. Associations could in the long run, evolve into self-managed interest and service institutions, undertaking needed functions for their groups as well as offering some services presently provided by the FEWs. The mission feels that their development should be promoted (as the next higher institutional building block for helping the poor to help themselves) by action along the following lines:
(i) their performance and functions should be properly evaluated to determine desirable and feasible directions for the future;
(ii) they should also be promoted as possible channels for the delivery of inputs/services by other agencies in respect of their respective poverty alleviation programmes; and
(iii) in the longer term, the FEWs should be assigned to the associations rather than to individual groups, thus providing them guidance, training and consultancy services through their own associations.
Savings: A total of IDR 709 million has been saved by 9193 groups as compulsory savings (required as a precondition for credit), representing 180% of the SAR cumulative target for the first three years. In addition, 5,649 groups have saved a total of IDR 273 million in voluntary savings (which are not called for by the SAR). The average total savings (both compulsory and voluntary) amounts to IDR 12 500 per member. This shows not only that the poor are capable of saving, but also that they are able to provide an equity base of 10% for a loan of IDR 125 000 per member, which compares well with the loan amounts actually received.
Credit Delivery: The project has disbursed IDR 10 062 million as credit to 9513 SFGs (up to end July 1993), which represents a 125% achievement of its cumulative target for this period. However, as already seen, about 2010 groups have applied but have not yet received credit.
Loan approvals, which are now made in the Branch Office of the BRI at district/sub-district level, should in the long-run, be brought closer to the poor and decentralized to the Unit Desa (village unit) level. The same should apply to the payment of the last loan instalment, which now has to be paid at the Branch level.
The groups currently distribute the credit equally among all their members, thus merely acting as conduits for credit. It is recommended that the groups be made aware of the possibility (during their training) of varying the terms and maturities of lending within their own groups, and that such a progress towards financial intermediation be allowed from the third loan onwards.
The mission considers that the present loan ceilings (which have been raised) are adequate. It would, however, recommend that the ceiling for the fourth loan be raised to IDR 400 000, and that all loan sizes be revised every 2 years, in keeping with the rates of inflation.
The BRI has unfortunately eliminated loans of short maturities of 3 and 6 months (due to lack of profitability), although provided for in the SAR. Since this has caused hardship to many groups with short-term IGAs, the mission would recommend that the issue of re-introducing short-term loans, at least 6 month loans, be re-negotiated with BRI, with an attempt to overcome its difficulties.
The beneficiaries are able to pay their interest rate of 22.15% for loans, which is just below the segment for institutional lending to groups. On the other hand, the BRI is effectively having a greater margin than the 2.71% envisaged in the SAR, because the arrears rate of beneficiaries is only 1.6% as against the arrears of 15% on the first loan and 7% on subsequent loans, as calculated in the SAR. Thus, BRI's rate of profitability is more than adequate to support its project credit operations.
The SAR envisaged a continuous and instantaneous transition from the first to the second, to the third loans of the beneficiaries. As against this, there have been long and unjustifiable delays between the first, second and third loans, so much so that only 45% of those who have received and repaid their first loans have received their second or subsequent loans. This is a serious matter, for which the mission would make the following recommendations:
(i) since the greatest bottleneck lies in the preparation of a Group Business Plan (which is now a precondition for each loan), it is recommended that the GBP be dispensed with for the second and subsequent loans, and substituted by a simple cash-flow statement which, together with the repayment record of the beneficiary, should be an adequate basis for the grant of the subsequent loan/s;
(ii) the loan applications (which are now started only after the full repayment of the previous loan), should in future be submitted to BRI and approved conditionally two months before the last instalment of the previous loan falls due, with disbursement becoming automatic as soon as such last instalment is paid; and
(iii) where groups are suspended in time between their different loans for a complex of reasons, it is recommended that these difficulties be sorted out by trouble-shooting local consultants specially recruited for this purpose.
Although credit is provided against a Group Business Plan (GBP), the loans are often being used to finance other small income-generating activities, emergencies and even consumption. The project is, therefore, really financing a portfolio of activities of the poor, but with excellent results. The mission would recommend that this be explicitly recognized and that second and subsequent loans be made as portfolio lending, based on the actual cash flow and repayment performance of the beneficiaries.
Credit Recovery: The total arrears of beneficiaries (as of July 1993) was IDR 68.8 million, which represents only 0.68% of the total credit disbursed, or 1.6% of outstanding loans, which is well below that envisaged in the SAR, which was 15% (arrears) for the first loans and 9% for subsequent loans.
The Groups and Associations as Financial Intermediaries: Some groups and their associations have begun acting (mainly in rapid turnover, quick profit activities) as informal financial intermediaries between savers and borrowers, transforming loan sizes and maturities, and allocating scarce resources to more profitable activities. The mission recommends that the growth and performance of groups as financial intermediaries should be promoted through proper guidance and training as presently provided by some NGOs and by Bank Indonesia's Project Linking Banks and Self-Help Groups (PHBK).
Credit Sustainability: In view of the excellent credit record of the beneficiaries, the BRI has undertaken that credit would continue to be provided to them under any or all of three alternative arrangements (listed elsewhere). The mission is satisfied that credit will be sustain-able, under the above arrangements, after the project is over.
The Income Generating Activities of the Beneficiaries/Groups: Project credit has been utilized for the following main IGA categories: livestock (and fisheries) 48%, petty trade 33%, handicrafts/micro-enterprises 15%, agricultural processing 4%, and crop agriculture 2%. The highest income increases have come from petty trade (49% increase), followed by handicrafts (43%) and the lowest from agriculture and livestock (35%).
The Rapid Rural Appraisal (RRA) showed that in 53% of the groups, the loans were used for the household's main economic activity, while in 47% of the cases, they were used for a side-line activity. In 84% of the groups, the loans were mainly used for the group common activity stated in the GBP, although within the households, part of the loan funds were found to flow into other activities. The majority of groups (83%) fully distributed the loans among their members for their individual (household) enterprises, while the remaining 17% invested them in joint (group) enterprises.
The mission would highlight the following findings which are of importance for the future:
(i) The project credit has tended to flow mainly into non-farm or non-land based activities/ (97% of all enterprises), which is mainly because the beneficiaries have little or no land. Thus, when credit is targeted to the poor, they lead it to the activities most feasible and profitable to them. Hence, when credit is really targeted to the poor, it is almost automatically targeted to non-farm (non-land-based) activities;
(ii) The poor seem to opt, in their first loans, for the activity with lowest risk, which accounts for the large numbers (46% of all beneficiaries) opting to rear/fatten livestock, the lowest paying of all enterprises. However, they graduate to more profitable and higher capital-using activities in their subsequent loans - which highlights the need for higher loans with each credit cycle;
(iii) Many beneficiaries undertake two or more activities with the loan money, and even use it for emergencies and consumption, but with excellent repayment results. The loans are thus actually used for portfolio financing, with the groups and household deciding actual usage and terms, with the objective of maximum utility and profit. Since this has contributed to IGA intensification, diversification and expansion, it should be encouraged by portfolio financing of the poor, instead of insisting on an artificial GBP;
(iv) In order to help the beneficiaries in their graduation to higher level enterprises, more guidance and training is needed for their non-farm micro-enterprises, which could be best done by qualified NGOs (since the FEWs are not in the best position to provide non-agricultural training); and
(v) The associations should be nurtured with a view to playing a future role in financing, input-supply, processing and marketing for the beneficiaries/groups, and in the long-run, possibly also providing micro-enterprise consultancy services for their groups.
The project has had strong social and community effects through the improvement of the self-confidence of the beneficiaries and their social standing in the village.
It has had production effects by increasing the volume of production (in 82% of the groups), improving the quality of production (in 65% of the groups) and in changing the relations of production, whereby in many cases, the beneficiaries have graduated from wage-employment to self-employment.
It has had employment effects by increasing the working hours of group members in 66% of the groups, with an average increase of 27 hours per week per household.
It has had income effects through an income increase of 41% to 54% (RRA data) although the project's M&E data show a higher increase. The increase in total household income stemming from loan activities was 41%, while the increase in income from the project activity alone was estimated at 54%. Further, household incomes were found to increase from 33% after the first loans, to 46% after the third loan, while income gains from the project-funded activity (alone) increased from 31% after the first loan to 72% after the third loan, which shows that the income gains are likely to increase with time. Moreover, there are further direct (cumulative) income gains from the continuous reinvestments made from the beneficiaries' returns of their quick maturing activities. There are also the indirect income gains from the inevitable multiplier effects arising from reinvestments as well as from additional consumption.
It has had institutional effects by training extension workers in working with the poor and in demonstrating that the extension agency, with its 33,000 field extension workers, can provide an effective instrument for poverty alleviation. Likewise, it has proved that the banking system can lend to the poor, without collateral, with low arrears, and with adequate profit to ensure sustainability. This could also have a profound institutional effect, at a time when the Government is actively searching for a methodology and institutional means for a poverty alleviation programme for application over the whole country.
The project has had an impact on women with 35% of all groups being women's groups (as against the SAR target of 20% of all groups), while 40% of all beneficiaries are women. In view of the great success of women's groups in petty trading in Lombok, the mission would recommend that 60% of all future groups be formed as women's groups, especially in areas where women are active in the field of petty trading. The project presently has a provision, which prevents more than one person in a household from receiving a project loan. This is working against women, and it is recommended that it be rescinded.
The project has no known negative environmental impact.
In order to obtain a fuller and more sensitive picture of project impacts, it is recommended that both primary and secondary effects should be studied in a long-range perspective, (using also indirect measures such as improvement in housing, food, IGA diversification, etc.) through longitudinal studies of small panels of beneficiaries and groups over time.
The Extension of the Project: Given the fact that the project started almost three years late and that 70% of the project funds are still unspent, it is recommended that the project be extended by two years, till 1997.
Strategies for Expanding Project Coverage: Since hardly 10%-15% of the poor have so far been covered within the project's existing areas of operation, while only 21% of the FEWs in those areas have so far been inducted into project activities, it is recommended that as a strategy for future expansion, the project should concentrate on broadening and deepening group formation in its existing areas of operation, where apart from the larger absolute numbers of the poor, the existence of trained staff and needed institutional infrastructure would conduce to cost-effectiveness and other institutional and social advantages. For the same reasons, it is recommended that, wherever possible, entire poor villages (especially large villages) be chosen for expansion. It is also recommended that Lombok, (where the project has had its greatest success), be chosen as a show-case for the project and that a substantial proportion of families below the poverty line be taken up for coverage - so as to make a powerful impact on the Government and all other poverty alleviation programmes.
Expansion to New Provinces: In view of the intended expansion to large areas of the country under a possible second IFAD loan, it would be desirable to pilot-test the project approach and methodology under the different socio-economic, socio-cultural and infrastructural conditions in the outer islands. Hence, the mission would recommend a limited expansion of project activities for such pilot-testing to selected areas in the four (new) provinces of West Sumatra, Lampung, South Sulawesi and South Kalimantan.
Some Considerations in the Selection of New Areas: The mission highlights some difficulties in working with the type of credit provided by this project in areas where the main occupation of the poor is rainfed subsistence farming, and where non-farm opportunities may be hard to find (because the objective conditions for their existence may not exist). It, therefore, urges adequate investigations before expansion to such areas.
Considerations of Replicability and Sustainability: Since the project works through the existing agricultural extension system (with needed local management structure and extension staff already in place), replication is possible with speed and at relatively low cost. Likewise, the existence of BRI's branch network over large parts of the country, as well as credit being repaid at near market rates of interest and with low arrears, enables easy and cost-effective replication. The project's low unit cost of only $ 12 per beneficiary per year (with sustainability expected at the end of the project period), also conduces to financial replicability. Meanwhile, the continuing work of the project on developing the P4K methodology has made it a prime candidate for replication.
The project achievements are expected to be institutionally sustainable, because the institutional structures which support the groups (namely the agricultural extension system and the BRI's banking network) are likely to continue in the same areas. Moreover, the groups themselves (the basic institutional building blocks of the project), are likely to be more self-sustaining, since they will be supported by their own associations.
In regard to credit sustainability, the excellent repayment record of the groups has more or less ensured that BRI credit will continue to flow to them even after the project, especially through the mechanism of the credit revolving fund. The BRI has also given adequate assurances in this regard.
While the economic sustainability of the beneficiaries' enterprises is not in doubt, there is a question mark over their ability to graduate to higher levels of productivity. This represents the greatest challenge to the project.
In regard to financial sustainability, the cost per beneficiary is estimated at only $ 1 per month or $ 12 per year (not including credit costs) for 5-7 years. After this period, their linkage to the banking system at market rates of interest, is expected to make them financially sustainable.
The project in fact yields many lessons bearing directly on the feasibility of a successful poverty alleviation programme, with replicability and sustainability. It has demonstrated: first, that it is possible to organize the poor in groups for self-help activities; secondly, that such activities can be financed through credit (with nearly 518 repayment) at near-market interest rates, without the need for expensive handouts; thirdly, that existing institutional structures (such as the agricultural extension network) could be used as a low-cost and effective means of organizing and training the poor; fourthly that the existing rural banking system can continue to meet their credit needs on a sustainable basis; and lastly, that all the above factors can make a programme of poverty alleviation based on the project's methodology, relatively cost-effective, replicable and sustainable.
Conclusion: For all the above reasons, the mission commends the approach, methodology and achievements of the project and recommends to IFAD that a second loan be provided for the expansion of the project to other parts of the country.
Hillside Farmers Support Project (1994)
The Hillside Farmers Support Project (HFSP) is in its fifth out of the six years initially planned for implementation. Project objectives were to provide credit and extension (supervised credit) services to both small farmers and rural landless or near-landless, as a means to increase production and income. Long-term credit was to be provided to small farmers, for the development of coffee and cocoa as permanent crops. Two types of benefits were expected: increased income to participating farmers; and reduced soil erosion in the hillsides, an important social benefit for the population living in the watersheds below, including the city of Kingston.
Agricultural supervised credit. Beneficiaries of agricultural credit in general meet the selection criteria specified at appraisal. However, the number involved has been much less than originally planned at this stage of the project. Some 900 loans had been disbursed or were in the process of being disbursed at 31 December 1993, about 1/4 of what had been estimated at appraisal.
The major causes for the project's delay in sub loan up-take identified in periodic project reports, as well as in supervision reports, have been: (1) "high" interest rates, which according to these reports and to project staff have discouraged farmers from taking up loans; (2) deficiencies in the extension and input supply services contracted with the Coffee and Cocoa Boards, which resulted in large delays in loan approvals; and (3) rapid devaluation of the Jamaican dollar, which has resulted in a six-fold increase of project funds in local currency, thus making it more difficult to disburse external funds as programmed.
The above factors have been considered by the Agricultural Credit Bank (ACB), the project executing agency, as the basic reasons for limited achievements obtained during 4 1/2 years of implementation. The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and IFAD have in general concurred with ACB's appreciation of the reasons for delay in loan up-take.
During the Mid-term Evaluation these issues and others were examined, to ascertain what the HFSP had achieved at: the farm level; at the Peoples Cooperative Banks (PCBs) level; and at the level of ACB and the other agencies involved in project implementation.
The Mid-term Evaluation (MTE) has ascertained that the three main factors attributed (para. 3. above), did in fact have important effects on the agricultural loan uptake and crop development. Other issues were however also involved and some have had, or may eventually have, even more important effects on project results.
That interest rates affected loan approvals seems clear, but this has taken place in a manner different than expressed in both project and supervision reports. Namely, because of the ACB's staff perception that the loans could not be payed back by farmers at "very high interest rates", and have discouraged loan approvals. But the interest rates on project loans, when properly compared to inflation rates, have in fact been negative in nearly all quarters during the 4 1/2 years of implementation. The direct effect of interest rates, thus has been more on project staff, on the supply of funds than on its demand. In fact, none of the farmers interviewed by the Mission complained about the level of the interest rates.
Certain features of the credit component in HFSP as designed, made it distinct from other projects. These included: (1) a Loan Guarantee Fund, to allow PCBs to accept a degree of risk in their lending operations; (2) the credit "advance" mechanism, to provide support to farmers during the initial years of introduction of tree crops; (3) the use of crop lien instead of the more usual forms of collateral; and (4) a loan repayment scheme which provides for the capitalization of interest during four years, as a way of avoiding repayment by farmers in the initial years of crop establishment.
It must be pointed out that during implementation, neither the loan guarantee nor the crop advance were used by the project. A loan guarantee fund (LGF) was established at the very beginning of the project, and it has lost much of its original value, as the Loan Agreement mistakenly indicated that it should be established in local currency: the devaluation has reduced its value to less than 1/3 of its original amount in US dollar terms (even after interest gained). Furthermore, the loan guarantee fund has been perceived by project staff as an insurance against natural calamities. The crop advance, one of the features that was supposed to attract farmers, was left aside and no mention of it is made in either project or supervision reports. Thus, both innovations, the LGF and the crop advance, which could have had a positive impact on loan approvals as well as on the credit uptake, have not been applied by the HFSP.
The crop lien system on the other hand has been a very positive mechanism. First, it allowed access to long-term credit to small farmers who did not possess collateral, such as land titles. Second, within those farmers with new access to credit, it has become a strong attraction to young farmers, who have family land but no clear title, but which could get the formal consent of the family to use the land for 15-10 years, and thus could obtain and payback a loan from HFSP.
The capitalization of interest in loans is being followed in all cases, but interest being accrued on interest at the present rates, substantially increases total debt of farmers. At some PCBs, the farmers are being advised to begin repaying as soon as possible and not wait for the four year interest grace period to be over. The MTE's analysis on this matter questions the advantage to farmers of this scheme.
Problems with the services to farmers provided by the Coffee Board (CfIB/CIDCO) and the Cocoa Board (CcIB), to some extent due to the effects of the structural adjustment programme on the budget of both organizations, had in fact a negative impact on project development. Even at appraisal, there was some inkling that problems could be encountered, if these agencies were expected to work with the project's target group. It was recognized then that the Boards had little experience with small farmers and were skeptical of the economic sense of providing them with extension and input services. This institutional view eventually prevailed, even though some field staff of CIDCO did work closely with small farmers and identified with project objectives.
The problems with the coverage and quality of extension and input services gradually deteriorated over time to such a state that ACB, with the approval of CDB and IFAD, took the decision in mid-1993 to terminate the service contracts with both Boards. In was also agreed that during the rest of the project implementation period, those services would be provided by a combination of new extension staff contracted directly by ACB, supported by ACB's existing credit and training officers, as well as by PCB managers and other staff. The original estimate was that the new extension staff would be operational in about two months, but in fact it took nearly eight months before this staff began effectively working with the farmers. The slack in input provision by the boards was addressed by ACB and the PCBs in an ad-hoc basis, solving to some extent the farmer's urgent demand for quantity of inputs, but not its quality. In any case, mechanisms have been put in place by ACB to provide extension and inputs, substituting for the boards original role in the project, although the results of this change are still to be determined in the near future.
The "new" extension service was being put in place during the MTE's visit to Jamaica. Some important issues concerning extension, to be discussed in the second part of this summary, require urgent attention by ACB, CDB and IFAD, in order to ensure the appropriate coverage and quality of services farmers should receive from HFSP. Extension and input supply are still very relevant issues for achieving adequate project results at the farmer's level, and the question of quality of these still exists -even if in a modified form and under a different institutional set up.
The observed effects of supervised credit at the farm level vary substantially according to the crop, reflecting the very different profitability and technical packages being applied to coffee and cocoa. The farmer (and the coffee and cocoa trees themselves) have demonstrated their ability to perform as expected under the HFSP design, provided the right environment, inputs and technical services were available. Nevertheless, on a majority of farms in the project, serious shortcomings were observed by the Mission.
In order for the project to obtain the expected changes in production and income at the farm household level, as a result of the project proposed technological packages, a number of inputs had to be provided on time and of the required quality. Supply of inputs (para. 13) on a timely basis became a serious problem, especially after 1992, but ACB and the PCBs have managed to cover the main deficiencies. A different problem is that of the quality of inputs. The most important physical inputs are the coffee and cocoa seedlings, as these are the genetic basis for future production. In field visits, the MTE has become convinced that the quality of seedlings to HFSP farmers, is in general deficient. Seedlings being sold to farmers are not in general sufficiently mature, and require much more attention after planting, if they are to be brought up to their desired production potential. In addition, the real price of this input has doubled since project start-up. Not only have farmer's seedlings cost increased, but in general they are receiving an inferior input. The indices of loss of planted material in the fields (about 20% and in some cases more), are a reflection of this. Neither ACB nor PCBs or the boards, have perceived this to be a problem.
The recommended levels of fertilization, especially for potash, are very high. There is a lack of evidence to sustain the present level of fertilizer use, considering the relatively low average yields obtained. This is causing undue cost to the farmers. In regards to pest and disease control, and even though HFSP is funding some research thorough CARDI on this matter, it appears not to be focused at filling the short-term needs of the crops and the farmers. Most of the problems proposed to be investigated already have been researched elsewhere and the HFSP could obtain more benefit by taking available results and passing them on to field staff and farmers.
In regards to currency devaluation, as a third external factor, for the low project disbursements, there is no question that this has had an impact. In terms of the total IFAD JA-217 funds available for sub-loans to farmers, in Jamaican currency terms, the loanable funds have multiplied by six times since appraisal. This situation has been aggravated by the slow up take of sub loans (para. 2). The situation is however not new, since major devaluations took place in 1991, 1992 and early 1994.
The problem of the low level of disbursement of IFAD loan funds was compounded by the too large amount for price contingencies included in the appraisal report. This inflated both the project's total cost, as well as the size of the loan. Even if the project had proceeded as planned at appraisal, total loan funds would not have been disbursed. This situation leads to the question of project reformulation, possible loan extension and future use of loan funds, which is addressed in Part II of this Summary.
The MTE's analysis and synthesis shows that there are other important problems that have so far received little or no discussion, but which must be confronted and solved if the HFSP is to continue implementation in an acceptable manner. Basically, these refer to: (1) Project management; (2) the HFSP in the context of other on-going projects with ACB/PCBs and the future role expected of the PCB's; (3) Modification of loan conditions to sub-borrowers and simplification of loan approval procedures; (4) Use of the Loan Guarantee Fund scheme; and (5) Revising the existing research support focus, so that it contributes more to project objectives and needs. These matters are dealt with in Part II of this Summary.
Farmer's perceptions on HFSP. On the basis of evaluation surveys carried out by MINAG and visits to farmers by the MTE team, the perceptions of those farmers who had loans approved and have begun using them, is in general favourable. Financing from HFSP, made available under the crop lien system, allowed farmers who previously had little or no access to credit, to establish new planting of coffee and to a very limited extent of new cocoa and crop rehabilitation. However, only about one half of those farmers whose loans were approved were able to disburse. These latter have a less positive attitude towards HFSP's loan approval and extension systems because of the delays in obtaining the required services, and so a substantial proportion have opted out of the project.
Non-Agricultural Credit. This project component has been assigned a low priority during implementation, contrary to appraisal expectations. At appraisal, it was clearly indicated that a significant proportion of the target population would not benefit from the agricultural credit component, and therefore a non-agricultural credit component financing other rural enterprises could provide substantial benefits for the landless and near-landless. This component has in fact produced extremely disappointing results. After 4 1/2 years, all that can be shown are 28 sub-loans approved for a total amount of under USD 50 000.
The National Development Foundation of Jamaica (NDFJ), has been unable to establish minimal conditions for continued implementation of this component and the HFS Project Management has been rather passive with respect to this strategic component. There is evidence of other micro-enterprise programmes active in rural areas, that provide alternatives for furthering the non-agricultural credit through other organizations.
Soil conservation. No significant activities or resources for soil conservation were included at the design stage. HFSP has benefitted from soil conservation education efforts of previous projects and to some extent from technical advice provided to farmers by project development officers, which promote the use of simple soil conservation measures (individual basins for seedlings and contour planting being the most common). While it is not possible to measure the HFSP's (or other coffee development projects) effects on soil erosion, a more definitive position on this matter should be taken by the project's extension service in the following years. A very valuable soil conservation study has been produced by the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), by Project Management, but so far it has not been put into use, despite its high potential value.
On Overall Project Strategy, HFSP has been and still is a problem project and to turn it into a moderately successful one, will require a major effort by all involved, farmers, Government of Jamaica institutions and IFAD and CDB as the external funding and supervision agencies.
One important element to take into account in a strategy for the projects' last phase, is that the original project design has been overtaken by new project concepts. Namely the Integrated PCB Network (GOJ/CIDA) and the Rural Financial Services (GOJ/IFAD/GON) projects, which are under implementation, respond to a different project focus, as compared to HFSP. IPCBN and RFSP have as their main objective, the development of a viable rural financial system, with agricultural lending as a subsidiary matter. HFSP, on the other hand, is an agricultural credit project, where loan approval, disbursement and repayment are foremost considerations. If the HFSP is subject to reprogramming as recommended by this report, one objective of project redesign work should be to better integrate the latter in its last phase, with present GOJ thinking and priorities on agricultural credit -as reflected in IPCBN and RFSP-.
Agricultural credit component. An obligation by HFSP exists towards those nearly 900 farmers who have taken up loans. On the other hand, to try to involve many more farmers in the supervised credit scheme, in the numbers the project appraisal proposed, at this stage is out of the question, given the findings of the MTE. However, if some of the more serious problems can be overcome, a limited number of new farmers from areas with substantial demand for Blue Mountain coffee loans, could be brought into the HFSP during the last phase.
Revive the non-agricultural credit component. For those rural dwellers in the project area, which cannot benefit from agricultural loans, HFSP should develop an alternative institutional arrangement to get this strategic component on stream, providing loans and technical assistance for small scale rural investment opportunities as originally designed, but setting modest coverage goals, and using existing institutional mechanisms (such as MIDA) for providing these services.
The strategy proposed for the project's last stage, is based on the following: First. A reprogramming of the project is urgently required. If this is not feasible, IFAD should consider providing a one year extension to the closing date (15/04/1995), to allow existing sub-loan commitments to be completed. If a project review is authorized, in the MTE's view, an extension should be considered. This would allow for some new long-term agricultural loans being approved in 1994 and 1995, while permitting sub-loan disbursements to be completed in the following two years.
Second, establish the priority target groups. A reprogrammed HFSP should focus in order of priority on:
(a) farmers who have already have taken up loans, in order to determine whether their investments were correctly made and what -if any additional investment might be required);
(b) Farmers who had loans approved, but did not take them up, and who still maintain an interest in coffee loans. Their credit and extension requirements would be analyzed in relation to the current capacity of PCBs and ACB to provide a quality service. If this is too costly, no further promotion of approved loans should be made;
(c) A limited number of new farmers, subject to the same type of restrictions as mentioned in (b) above; and
(d) Rural small entrepreneurs, who apply for loans for non-agricultural production, non-crop agricultural investments (nurseries, small scale husbandry), or local level marketing, if an effective substitute can be found for NDFJ.
Project goals for the last phase should be directly related to project resources and management capacity. The total number of those involved in supervised agricultural credit, would therefore depend on the project's ability to provide quality extension services. If this cannot be made available, the project should not be expanded to include new sub-borrowers.
Support for the PCBs. To further strengthen the PCBs in its project area, the HFSP would:
(a) provide for further training of PCB Managing committee members and of PCB staff and managers;
(b) make use of IPCBN and RFSP experience in design and application of basic loan administration and information systems at the PCBs, including necessary equipment; and
(c) Review plans to extend the project to the three remaining PCBs, and if not found justified in view of probable modest expansion, use resources to strengthen PCBs already involved.
Commitment of project funds. The MTE estimates that committable loan funds, even with a several years extension, would fall short of the original loan amount. After reprogramming, GOJ and IFAD could negotiate a partial decommitment of loan funds, to provide relief to GOJ on loan debt repayment. By reducing loan size, the country would obtain benefits through reduction in loan repayments.
Project management. It is essential that a full-time Project Manager (to work exclusively for the HFSP) be appointed . The short-term tasks to which this Manager has to allocate undivided attention, due to their magnitude and complexity:
(a) Defining terms of reference for the HFSP's full programming review, carrying this out and obtaining approval for changes in institutional set-up, procedures and goals.
(b) Providing programming and logistical support for the Extension Unit, to ensure that it can provide services in a most efficient and effective manner;
(c) Developing a detailed training programme for HFSP PCBs (Managing Committees, Managers and staff), with support from IPCBN/RFSP consultants and ACB staff, and supervising its implementation.
(d) Establish a simple and operational PCB loan administration and information system, jointly implemented with IPCBN/RFSP, selection of an adequate (perhaps an off-the-shelf) software system; purchase of PCs and other equipment for the PCBs ; and training of PCB staff in its use.
(e) Reviewing the operational system for the Loan Guarantee Fund with the PCBs, including a negotiation with GON, IFAD and CDB, of the size and the currency in which the LGF is to be set up.
(f) Proposing and negotiating with ACB/PCBs the means for providing the latter with a greater spread on sub-loans, establishing clear criteria for determining whether their capability to handle funds has improved through managerial and technical upgrading.
(g) Negotiation and eventual administrative support for a new non-agricultural small enterprise programme, providing CDB and IFAD with the necessary information for taking a decision on whether to proceed with a redesigned component. If approved, provide the selected entity with the administrative support to ensure HFSP flow of funds, periodic reports, supervision and auditing.
The decision to designate a full-time project manager for the HFSP, is considered by the MTE as a basic step towards rescuing the project . It is also a decision that the Bank can take on its own and one which it is urged be made at the earliest. Clearly, the decision should be backed up by the delegation of authority on all project matters, and an equally direct communications channel with ACB's top management.
Project Coordination and monitoring. The Project Coordinating Committee should play a more active role if the project is reformulated. The different changes in the project included in this report, if taken up and included in the proposed reprogramming should be closely followed up by the Committee. It is the Committees responsibility to see that the changes approved be implemented. The Committee should have access to more information on project performance at the field level, by visits to farmers and PCBs. PAMCO's reports on the HFSP should be taken advantage of, as a useful source of external criteria and monitoring information.
Project supervision by CDB and IFAD. The CDB as cooperating institution, must review the recommendations of this report, once approved by IFAD, and establish an in-depth dialogue both with ACB as executing agency, and with IFAD, concerning how to implement those agreed upon modifications.
Evaluation of project effects at the farm level. There are at present a large number of unknowns surrounding the project's effects at the farm level. MINAG should design yield measurement trails and carry these out with support from ACB's development officers. Information on total and crop income of selected farmers should be collected and analyzed, over the next 3 or 4 years.
Research on HFSP's technical packages. Incidence of crop pests and diseases, results of simple experimental trails involving the use of organic and inorganic fertilizer, and cost-effectiveness of different soil conservation methods at farm level, should be central to CARDI's research agenda under the project.
The MTE Mission considers that before the end of April 1995, in the context of a supervision mission, the progress achieved in implementing the recommendations of the MTE should be assessed, and a decision should be taken as to the extension of the loan. If the institutions involved in the implementation of the Hillside Farmers Support Project do not acknowledge the problems pointed out by the MTE, it would not be worthwhile to extend the closing date of the loan. However, if showing a capacity to learn from experience, the problems are acknowledged by the institutions and corrective actions are implemented, then it would be worthwhile to extend the closing date, because under these circumstances the project could make an important contribution to the sustainable development of the rural poor of the Jamaican Hillside.
Proyecto Pequeños Productores Agrícolas de la Región SurOeste (1994)
Mauritius: Small-Scale Agricultural Development Project (Completion evaluation)
Over the last twenty years, Mauritius has undergone major structural changes from an agricultural mono-crop economy with a rapidly growing population, high unemployment and low per capita incomes to a situation characterised by fairly stable population growth, near-full employment and an economy which is undergoing rapid diversification with the emergence of new sources of growth in export manufacturing and tourism. Rapid economic growth, besides creating employment, also altered the occupational structure of the country. In 1972, the number of people employed in the agricultural sector was 2.5 times the number in manufacturing. In 1983, this ratio had fallen to 1.2 and by 1990, this situation had reversed. Mauritius is heavily dependent for its food supplies on imports. It imports the total amount of its two basic staples, rice and flour (both of which are subsidized), and over 80% of its consumption needs in milk, beef and lamb.
There has been a definite improvement in the education levels of the labour force over the last twenty years largely as a result of the introduction of free education in 1976. The proportion of workers with no eduction has been reduced to a negligible level and the proportion of those with secondary education has doubled over the same period. The country has a comprehensive social security assistance system with a wide coverage which may be under threat due to the high recurrent expense.
The current Government's rural development policies emphasise improving the agricultural productivity of smallholders and encouraging agricultural diversification whilst paying due attention to natural resource conservation and rural employment creation.
The completion evaluation mission
In 1992, IFAD fielded a General Identification Mission to Mauritius to explore opportunities for future IFAD investment. In this connection it was decided that a completion evaluation of the project could contribute to the process of defining a conceptual and strategic framework for future IFAD assistance in Mauritius.
The Completion Evaluation mission was fielded in June 1993 and findings and recommendations are based on field visits, comprising interviews with beneficiaries and on-site observations, interviews with bank staff, project and other government officials, and the review of project documentation. Although the mission was unable to access sufficient data in the banks on the performance of the individual small-scale loans, the conclusions reached by the mission on this subject generally coincided with those of the government officials involved in the project and were confirmed by field observations.
Project rationale and objectives
At the time of appraisal, the economy of Mauritius relied heavily on the mono-crop cultivation of sugarcane and was therefore vulnerable to international market fluctuations of this crop in addition to being subject to sporadic incidence of cyclones. In rural areas, unemployment had risen to over 10% of the rural workforce. Some 12% of the rural population lived below the absolute poverty line (USD 190 per caput in 1981) and Government policies were geared towards eliminating unemployment and improving living conditions in villages which often lacked basic services and amenities. Crop diversification on land marginal for sugar-cane cultivation was identified as a main opportunity to both raise domestic food production and to increase the resilience of the rural economy.
The Mauritian Small-Scale Agricultural Development Project aimed at improving the incomes and living conditions of small-scale farmers other than those engaged in sugarcane growing, to promote crop cultivation and livestock raising, promote productive use of available land and support a number of discreet activities for the development of the rural sector. In addition, the project was to create local capacity to carry out and monitor effectively small-scale agricultural development projects. The project had a total cost of USD 8.70 million. This was made up of the IFAD loan (078-MT) of SDR 5.25 million (equivalent to USD 6.3 million), GOM contribution of USD 1.7 million and farmers contribution totalling USD 0.7 million. The project was to be implemented over a five year period following loan agreement signing, with implementation to be coordinated by the Rural Development Unit (RDU) of the Ministry of Economic Planning and Development (MEPD). The cooperation institution was the World Bank.
The components of the project were:
- support for an agricultural credit programme to be implemented by the Mauritius Cooperative Central Bank (MCCB). This was to finance the following: three small irrigation schemes for production of mixed vegetables (95 ha); a small-scale irrigated litchi production scheme (25 ha); drainage of a swamp for rainfed production of rice and vegetables (105 ha); planting of mulberries for silkworm production (42 ha); improving goat production by providing selected breeding stock; funds for unspecified small-scale agricultural schemes; and technical assistance to strengthen MCCB capability in provision of effective lines of small-scale credit;
- support for rural development activities. This was to finance the following: equipment for research into food crops; six small rural health centres; self-help schemes in 100 villages for the provision of kitchen gardens; improving the goat breeding stock and strengthening the veterinary outreach of MOA; a study on marketing of fruit and vegetables and construction of storage facilities; and, training and transportation for RDU field officers;
- support for M&E activities of MEPD. This component was to provide technical assistance, local consulting services, training, vehicles and equipment.
Due to slow disbursements in the initial years a reformulation of the project took place that introduced a general line of credit administered by the MCCB and the Development Bank of Mauritius (DBM), to provide credit for agricultural and non-agricultural enterprises to individuals rather than to cooperatives.
General outcome of the project: Among the more successful outcomes of the project were: the strengthening of the small-scale lending capabilities of MCCB and DBM; the improvement of the goat breeding stock of MOA; the introduction of credit for small-scale enterprises in rural areas; the provision of decentralised health centres; provision of three veterinary centres; and a stimulus for successful kitchen gardens for more than 900 families. The following were the main failures of the project: the low productivity and profitability of the small-scale agricultural projects; the abandoned irrigation projects because of non-availability of land, the initial failures to improve the goat breeding stock by the MAO; the marketing study did not lead to any improvements in storage or marketing of fruits and vegetables; the MEPD failed to implement M&E functions to any useful degree; the project failed to disburse at the anticipated rate and took almost twice as long to complete as was envisaged at appraisal; and no system was designed to monitor the impact of the project on beneficiaries.
Targeting: Beneficiaries targeted under the project were to have an annual per capita income not exceeding the absolute poverty level of USD 190. In 1987, this was raised to USD 300. The attempt was to target the unemployed and/or marginally employed. Initially, Regional Development Officers (RDOs) from the RDU were involved in the selection of beneficiaries. Even though income criteria were adjusted to take account of Mauritius' economic boom, targeting criteria appear to have been less rigidly applied later as it became increasingly difficult to find beneficiaries. Many of them, originally targeted for cooperative loans during the first phase of the project, left altogether or farmed only on a part time basis due to better, more secure employment opportunities elsewhere. For the banks implementing the project credit lines, the viability of projects was considered to be more important than income targeting. Furthermore, given the nature of the extended family system in Mauritius, targeting and genuinely assessing income is a complicated exercise accentuated by the lack of a strong grassroots appraisal and monitoring system.
Beneficiary participation: Beneficiary participation was not part of the original project design or of the reformulated GLC. The farmers' community was hardly involved in any of the stages of the project cycle. Project identification, preparation, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation were carried out with little prior participation of the farmers. This was consequently reflected in poor performance of several subprojects. Several of the technical activities undertaken by the project failed due to their imposition on farmers rather than testing them under their local conditions and discussing their proven technique and economic viability with the beneficiaries. However, where the RDOs were actively involved in project implementation, there were opportunities for interchanges between beneficiaries and project implementors. But when the RDU was moved to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) in 1988, and the functions of National Development Officers (NDOs), the ex-RDOs, were redesigned, formal channels for beneficiary grassroots participation were severed.
Impact on beneficiaries: The loan agreement provided for a monitoring system which in theory would have enabled an estimate of the economic impact of the different project components. However, apart from the irrigation sub-projects, no data on yields, production and cash flows of the small-scale enterprises were available to the mission. Activities carried out under the Agricultural Credit Programme have suffered from absenteeism of farmers which has effected productivity and the efficient use of the land. Farmers remaining in operation (as part-timers) employ seasonal labour, particularly for crop maintenance and harvest activities. Very few employ permanent workers. Skilled labour is hired locally and is commonly associated with soil preparation. Low cropping intensities have diminished the significance of income generated from farming. Although the mission found that farm income could reach or even surpass income obtained from manufacturing if land is efficiently used and well managed, nevertheless most farmers sought other employment also for more security and income stability. Both the full-time farmers (20%) and part-time farmers (80%) seem to have better economic conditions (than at project design) with significant improvements in income levels.
Without a tracer study it is extremely difficult to disaggregate the general impact of the economic boom from the impact of the project. At the very minimum, the project created credit facilities for a section of the population who would not normally have been eligible for loans and provided for training of entrepreneurs and their employees. An unquantifiable success of the project is that it created a special institutionalized window of loans for poorer people in Mauritius. The down side of this is that unsecured loans had a higher rate of arrears than those which were secured. The project financed 16 Health Centres, 10 more than originally planned. The overall impact of these centres has been highly positive (especially for women) both in improving the quality and the coverage of the health services. IFAD financed health centres reach a total population of 264 000, which is 36 percent of the population served by all centres on Mauritius. The majority of the centres are fully utilized, are performing well and patients interviewed were very satisfied with the services provided. The overall impact of the services provided by the veterinary services sub-project is satisfactory. The centres provide fully-integrated veterinary services to the community of livestock breeders. The impact of the animal health laboratory has also been positive as the rate of parasitism is approaching the target of 75% and the struggle against stomoxys nigra is improving.
Women: The project does not include a specific component for the promotion of rural women. They were thought to benefit indirectly from land development and intensification of cultivation. As they contribute more than 70% of total seasonal labour and an estimated 18.5 percent of the total households in Mauritius are headed by a woman, this has proved to be a valid assumption. It can be said that sub-projects still in operation contribute significantly to the access of rural women to productive work and to their participation in the development process. However, there are no formal women extension programmes or training facilities, though the issue of the role of women in extension and agricultural development is economically important. Women are traditionally in charge of livestock, as well as fruits and vegetables, which gives them a key role in production and also in shifts towards high-value products. The rural health component had a very positive impact on women as to family planning. Women have been visited at their homes and benefited from medical personnel providing them with mother and child health care, nutrition information for children and family planning service. The birth rate has been decreasing significantly due to the services and women were reported to be in a better health condition.
Institutional impact: Both the MCCB and the DBM had dealt with small enterprise credit before IFAD's project. Nevertheless, the experience of each institution under the GLC increased their experience immensely. Unfortunately, the experience gained by the Project Unit at the MCCB, which was supported by the project was lost when first the advisor left and subsequently the unit was altogether disbanded and its functions placed under the general Credit Department. As a result of the shift of the RDU in the MEPD to the PMO where it was renamed the National Development Unit (NDU), the project lost considerable grassroots support from the RDOs whose functions changed from socio-economic to infrastructure advisors. The NDU assumed the role of the principal implementing agency; however, it lacked the executive authority necessary to obtain data from the banks or to verify the status of the revolving funds at either. At the same time, the reorganization effectively sidelined the MEPD whose function was reduced to macro-economic monitoring and to producing evaluation reports.
Sustainability: Few of the plots cultivated under the agricultural credit sub-projects seem to be sustainable, except where full-time farming is practised. As for the rural development activities, only the health centres and the veterinary activities represent a sustainable activity as their operations have been integrated into the national services. Although the GLC was instrumental in terms of delivering credit to persons who would otherwise not have had access to it, the high cost of lending and the problematic position of arrears on these loans, brings the sustainability of the credit schemes into question. The benefit from the technical assistance is not sustainable as the trained counterparts left the project to take better paid jobs.
Extensions: The project was to close in 1986, but low disbursements in the initial years allowed it eventually to be closed in December 1991, having received 5 extensions. The main concern in granting the extensions seems to have been the low level of disbursements and less attention was given to verify if the reformulated project was serving the IFAD target group.
Financial performance: Until the changes in project scope introduced in 1986, disbursement stood at only 6.7% of the loan amount, but thereafter it quickly increased to 31.9% in 1987 and to 76.0% in 1989 to reach 99.4% as at the loan expiry date. Due to the extended period during which the project was implemented, exchange rate fluctuations played an important role. In total, a devaluation of 76% occurred causing a substantial increase in the loan amount expressed in the local currency. Part of these funds have been used to finance additional health centres and the institutional strengthening of the NDU. Originally planned at 20%, the Government's contribution to the project eventually amounted to some MUR 32 million or 25 % of project costs. It is not possible to estimate the contribution of the farmers toward the project costs. Reimbursements of the loan have always been regular and timely.
Project coordination and management: Coordination of project implementation was the responsibility of an inter-ministerial committee, the Project Coordination Committee (PCC). The PCC did not perform optimally and in November 1984 a Project Implementation Committee (PIC) composed of senior working-level staff of the project's implementing agencies was set up to closely monitor progress under all sub-projects. Policy issues would be referred to the PCC. It met frequently and served as a useful forum for thrashing out many implementation problems at the field level. The implementation of the various project activities was to be carried out by Government agencies, parastatal bodies and cooperatives under the overall direction, supervision and coordination of the RDU. In 1988, when the RDU was transferred to the PMO it was restructured to become the NDU. The main effects of the shift were a greater visibility of the Unit as part of the PMO resulting in an increased authority conferred by this allegiance and at the same time a more political role through the attachment of Parliamentary Secretaries to the PMO. These are elected politicians and are responsible for the identification and follow-up of development projects in their respective Village Council Areas. Whereas the point of reference of the RDOs in the village had initially been the informal village or council leaders, it was now an elected politician. One of the results has been a shift toward infrastructural projects, away from small-scale productive development initiatives. It would therefore appear that the rational for the project to be under the aegis of the RDU is no longer valid.
Cooperating institution and supervision: Regular supervision was carried out and it appears that sufficient attention was given to emerging issues regarding project progress, although this was not always followed up by corrective actions. Agricultural irrigation and livestock did not receive adequate coverage (as reflected in the choice of specialisation of consultants) and this was reflected in the poor performance of these sub-components. For the needed reorientation of the project towards the creation of a general line of credit, the CI takes full credit, but there has been a lack of emphasise from both the CI and IFAD on the importance of data on project impact and individual loan performance.
Agricultural credit programme: Sixty-five percent of the loan was earmarked for on-lending by MCCB to small-scale agricultural borrowers through producers' cooperative societies. Three small irrigation scheme (total 295 ha) earmarked at design were replaced by a single scheme at Riche Terre due to unsuitability of land. This scheme is only yielding sub-optimal results, as most farmers have opted for part-time farming, or have even abandoned their plot in favour of a more secure income generating activities outside the agricultural sector. Cultivation on the one arpent (0.422 ha) plots was further constrained by inadequate and uncertain irrigation, lack of credit (due to unsettled land deeds, insufficient extension services, and problems O&M of irrigation equipment. The same is true for the Litchi Production scheme where yields are not promising, many plots are heavily infested with weeds and intercropping is only sporadically practised. As for the rice-subproject, the farmers decided to change to other crops because of low-returns on paddy rice and preference of farmers for traditional crops such as sugarcane and vegetables. The Sericulture sub-project was also abandoned, because traditional crops regained their attractiveness, as their prices went up relative to that of silk and the free family labour that was assumed to be available did not materialise because of the changing structure of the Mauritian economy and the labour market. The Goat Upgrading Sub-project was initially hampered by the poor management of the newly introduced breed. There was a lack of control and monitoring of the animals' health and adaptability to the new environment and in addition the breed was more suitable for milking than for meat which does not concur with the preference of Mauritians. In the second phase, three rounds of breeding took place at the Veterinary Service Division, which assured that the goats were able to adapt to their new environment. However, results were similarly unpromising with less than a quarter of the offspring distributed to farmers, and half of the population remaining unsold at the breeding station. No criteria were used in the selection of farmers and no monitoring of the breeders was being done.
The general line of credit general line of credit: Following a major project reformulation and amendments to the loan agreement in 1986, two schemes, the Small Agricultural and Rural Industries Development Scheme (SARIDS) at MCCB and the Small Rural Enterprises Scheme (SRES) at DBM, eventually became the central plank of the whole project. The system of loan administration was designed with an intention to rely on the grassroots involvement of RDOs in preparing and monitoring loans. Once their responsibilities changed, this role was lost and an important step in the process of loan administration was severed. The MOA, SIDO and MOC were all to be involved in the appraisal of loans, however, this system was never implemented, and presently the loans are appraised entirely by the bank's loan officers. A subsidiary credit agreement was made between the GOM and the banks, but the institutional developments described above generated a junction in the project, by effectively separating the project management from the credit line which was not foreseen in the subsidiary agreement.
Publicity of the availability of the credit had been successful and beneficiaries were reached through the media, the network of RDOs and by word of mouth. Collateral requirements changed from general floating charges to personal guarantor, in view of the high arrears and non-performance of outstanding loans. Although cases are reported to have been filed for legal action the results of these steps are not yet clear. The institutional support provided to the banks consisted of an internationally recruited TA Financial Analyst for MCCB and staff of RDU/NDU seconded to both MCCB and DBM. Although the TA provided some staff training and assisted in designing a loan administration system, the subsequent departure of the individuals trained and the dismantling of the Project Unit effectively minimised the impact on the operations of the Bank.
The inadequate provision of data by both banks but in particular the MCCB, has impaired the efforts of the evaluation mission in evaluating the financial or economic performance of the schemes. At MCCB 65% of the loanees have loans in arrears, and total arrears amount to 32% of the outstanding balance. Although MCCB management claims that some funds are being recycled, both NDU and the mission were unable to verify that these funds are being kept in a special account and outlent at the agreed upon interest rate. The situation for DBM is similar, with 65% of the small industry loans in arrears representing 51.6% of the value that is due. Of those, almost 60% have arrears greater than 12 months, while 91% of the amount due has been in arrears for more than a year. For the agricultural portfolio the situation seems somewhat better with 47% of the borrowers in arrears for 35% of the amount outstanding. More disturbing is the fact that 95% of the amount in arrears have been outstanding for 12 month or more. It seems that the situation has rapidly deteriorated over the last two years, with arrears doubling, suggesting perhaps high accumulated interest charges on loans overdue by more than 12 months. According to the banks, the following factors contributed to the high level of arrears: (i) technical capability of beneficiary, (ii) marketing capacity of loanee, (iii) equipment failures, (iv) insufficient returns on investment, and (v) some mala fide borrowers. The mission was of the opinion that apart from these factors, poor managerial and business organisation of the enterprises also contributed to the situation of high arrears. The low level of support these credit windows received from the banks also created an environment were loan appraisal and monitoring was extremely difficult.
Rural development: The self-help scheme for the cultivation of kitchen gardens, although successful in terms of the number of households reached (930), could not be continued for its high cost and heavy monitoring requirements. Both the marketing study and the sub-component for foodcrop research equipment found alternative funding. This may have been foreseen at appraisal with a more careful screening of funding options of the GOM. The rural health component proved successful and 26 health centres were eventually built and equipped, whereas only six had been planned. These centres reach a population of 264 000. The accessibility to health care services increased and pressure on hospitals was relieved. Three veterinary centres were fully equipped and provide around-the-clock services to the farming community. Livestock extension services and feed supplies are also provided by these centres.
Monitoring and development: Responsibility for M&E was assigned to the Programme Implementation and Monitoring Section (PIMS) of MEPD with RDU only involved in providing field support and ex-post evaluation to be undertaken in cooperation with the University of Mauritius. Eventually a division of tasks between the Monitoring and Evaluation Division (MED) of MEPD (formerly PIMS), RDU, MCCB and DBM evolved, with MED largely responsible for baseline surveys and evaluation studies and the other three agencies for the monitoring of their respective activities. The University was never involved in the project, apparently because of a lack of interest and absence of technical capacity. The former RDU became the NDU in 1988 and was moved from MEPD to the Prime Minister`s Office. The MEPD became responsible for macro-programme evaluation, the NDU for specific monitoring and evaluation and the banks for the monitoring of their credits. An internationally recruited consultant was temporarily stationed in PIMS. He established a M&E system, and trained one economist and two sociologists. Part of the funds from cost savings on a few other IFAD sub-projects were allocated for the purpose of strengthening the Monitoring Section of the NDU by way of computerization, procurement of vehicles and oversees staff training. Under this arrangement, two vehicles and four personal computers have been acquired. However, the training of staff has not been achieved. Although these arrangements seemed conducive for an effective system, in practice the division of responsibilities resulted in inadequate monitoring and evaluation by all parties and the major problem encountered in making the M&E system operational was the difficulties in obtaining the required information from all the executing agencies involved in the project. The actual monitoring is presently done by one RDO and the whole operation is centralised at the MEU (of NDU) which is responsible for the monitoring of all NDU projects.
In retrospect, the project did not develop an effective M&E capacity. The project managers did not have access to the data required to ensure efficient management. There is no method of objectively determining impact on beneficiaries. Management seemed more concerned with the progress of implementation than with analysing what the various projects are producing in terms of socio-economic results. IFAD support for the design of the project did not bring the expected results, mainly because of institutional changes introduced throughout the project.
Design elements: The objectives set for the project appear to have been over-ambitious. The risk analysis made in the appraisal report overlooked some of the main constraints to the project. With the economic development of the country, labour availability turned out to be a constraint. The assumption that land for irrigation projects would be available proved to be misplaced in a country with an intensive land use pattern. The appropriate authorities concerned with land utilization were not effectively consulted.
Only limited consultation of targeted beneficiaries took place during the design stage. This led to delays as well as failure of some activities. A thorough and effective consultative process with the beneficiaries and implementors of the project from the outset of project preparation could have avoided a number of problems encountered by the project.
The appraisal report failed to address the issue of extension services and the need to improve or expand those to promote the input packages needed for the project.
Institutional Capabilities: The project was not based on a realistic assessment of the capacity of the institutions involved in implementation. Whilst RDU/NDU had an adequate planning capability, it did not have the technical skill, nor the political and administrative support required to implement the project effectively. It would therefore appear that the rational to place a small-scale agricultural development project under the aegis of the NDU was not valid, especially after its transfer to the PMO.
The experience with cooperatives as vehicles for credit and other support services for farmers in this project has not been positive.
The implementation of the small-scale enterprise credit schemes suffered from an absence of staff at the grassroots for appraisal and follow-up either from the banks themselves or from the Ministry implementing the project. Qualifications and suitability of international TA staff should be carefully screened by IFAD and fully endorsed by the recipient country.
Imposition of technical solutions: Several of the technical activities carried out under the project failed without being tested at pilot scale or being based on proved techniques. In particular the Goat Breeding, the Rice Production and sericulture proved not economically viable. This contrasted with the more successful results of the GLC. The lesson is that local entrepreneurs and farmers have a better idea of the techniques that will work than outsiders. Where new technical solutions are needed, they should be tested under local conditions prior to distribution to beneficiaries for production.
Monitoring and Evaluation: The project did not generate an effective M&E system. Monitoring should pay more attention to assessment of changes in socio-economic indicators at the level of the beneficiaries. Experience from the General Line of Credit taught that data on performance of credit lines should at all times be available. Project managers should have access to data to ensure efficient management, flexibility of approach or identification of issues affecting implementation. An effective M&E system must be installed from the outset. This includes identification of criteria to be monitored in assessing project impact. M&E operations are highly dependent on the institutional set-up of a project and they should be fully re-appraised after any reformulation or change in the institutional arrangement of a project takes place.
Reformulation: The project was subject to a fast changing social and economic situation of Mauritius. This required rapid responses from project management that was not built into the project from the start. The issue of "part-time" farming became a factor of some importance which should have been dealt with in a more decisive manner. The project reformulation that took place, relied too much on the capacity and willingness of the banking community and the Government authorities to cooperate and subsequent restructering of the government services was not followed by an adjustment in the appraisal and monitoring arrangements. However, improved disbursement records after the reformulation led the CI and IFAD to belief that the project was performing satisfactory and little was done to verify that project funds were targetted towards the poor and were supporting economically viable projects.
Recommendations and issues for follow-up
Future interventions should be designed in a flexible manner so as to enable the beneficiaries to engage in profitable activities, taking into account the open character of the Mauritian economy and its propensity for fast change. A thorough and effective consultative process should be entered into with potential beneficiaries from the outset of project preparation.
Extension of closing dates should considered less on the possibility it will give to the project to disburs all the loan funds and more the ability of the project to channel those funds to activities that will clearly serve the intended beneficiaries.
For agricultural activities, due attention should be given to the capacity of the extension services and the importance of the farmer systems approach. Land requirements should take into account present and future alternative uses and should be based on realistic assumption regarding farming needs.
The choice of implementing agency for any future IFAD project in Mauritius should take into account the ability of the agency to follow up on project implementation at the grassroots level. The rational for placing a future small-scale agricultural development project with the NDU is no longer obvious.
Credit programmes: When a line of credit is administered by a commercial bank, clear guidelines should be laid down from the beginning on the access that project authorities should have data relating to the individual loan performance. It is recommended that data on credit should be made available by the banks in a standard format which is cleared by IFAD or the CI.
Unless the banks, implementing the small scale credit schemes have separate project units from which thorough screening of applications and active follow-up of the loans is guaranteed, the credit schemes and their expected results in terms of increased incomes of beneficiaries will not materialise to an extent that would justify IFAD's intervention. To establish a viable small enterprise in the context of Mauritius' booming, relatively open economy is extremely difficult. Sound appraisal of loan applications, careful monitoring and extension support services is required.
Consideration should be given to the possibility to make some training (e.g. in business administration) compulsory for credit takers. The availability of support services should also be assured. The redeployment or creation of additional countrywide RDOs to support appraisal and monitoring of loans is to be considered.
The Evaluation Mission was not able to obtain satisfactory information on the revolving funds. IFAD should receive assurances that the revolving funds are properly managed and used for the purpose for which they were created.
Irrigation authority: Breakdown of irrigation equipment occurred frequently but repairs were not carried out promptly, leading to insufficient irrigation of the two irrigation schemes financed under the project. The Irrigation Authority should enhance the efficiency of its maintenance services to irrigation schemes.
Extension services: The extension service should endeavour to make periodical visits to farmers, prepare an inventory of resources available to the farmers and of their constraints. Therefore, the extension worker should start with the concept of the farm-household system, analyze constraints and potentials and list possible solutions before preparation of an extension program. Efforts should be made to pay more attention to train farmers and extension officers in management, farming systems approaches and farmer's participation. Sufficient technical training for women (extensionists workers and farmers) should also be given, and a rational strategy for extension including programs for women and small farmers should be worked out. In addition to basic agricultural extension, the extension service needs to concentrate on water savings and other environmental aspects of agricultural production, thus playing a leading role in the development of sustainable agriculture.
Marketing: The need for storage of vegetables should be considered. There is at the moment a low capacity for storing vegetables in the country whereas there are frequent occurrences of oversupply. The construction of refrigerated cold stores would provide such storage, but it is unlikely that the high cost involved could be offset with higher market price. It would be better to use present storage capacity more efficiently and to develop additional market outlets coupled with improved market price intelligence. To reduce the margin of the middlemen, MEPD could play a role in supervising the marketing process.
Cooperatives: The Ministry of Cooperatives should focus on helping cooperatives to reestablish financial viability, to advise on basic management reforms, and to undertake, or commission feasibility studies for medium and long term investment by farmers under cooperative societies. The validity of cooperatives as vehicles for credit and other support services for farmers should be reviewed in the light of the negative experience of the closed IFAD project.
Saint Lucia: Small Farmers Agricultural Development Project
The Completion Evaluation mission of the Small Farmers Agricultural Development (SFAD) project worked in St. Lucia from the 2nd to the 19th of November 1994. The project faced several difficulties stemming from its objectives, target group specification, organization, staffing and implementation, which are rather well known. Therefore, instead of concentrating on these shortcomings, or attempting to estimate effects and impact without having the necessary quantitative base, the mission sought to analyze and synthesize the project's experience in a constructive, forward looking way, with a view to learning lessons for future interventions in the country and/or region.
St. Lucia's farmers have been progressively locked-in banana production due to several reasons which are discussed in this evaluation report. The SFAD project, appraised in 1981, though in a rather marginal way, has provided some opportunities for an alternative path, not dependent on banana exports, as shown by the Completion Evaluation. Therefore, the SFAD can be considered as a first stage of a development process in which IFAD's intervention has played a role as catalyzer.
The project's main objective was to bring about the diversification of small farmers' agriculture from a few export crops (mainly bananas) into food crops. In fact, contrary to a widespread perception of the SFAD as a "banana project", less than one third of the project's loans were allocated to bananas. However, banana output and exports expanded throughout the project period at the expense of other crops due to the improvement of the market and prices during this period. This brings home the lesson that agricultural diversification cannot be achieved when macro-economic conditions, producer incentives and government support policies are actually pointing in the opposite direction.
Two of the projects's key assumptions were inadequate: firstly, that it would be in the small farmers' interests to diversify out of bananas, and secondly, that (given the project incentives and services) they would willingly do so. The first assumption proved to be incorrect. The small farmers' income has improved as never before precisely because of planting bananas (see Chapter IV, Sections A and K). With regard to the second assumption, there is no indication that the farmers were ever consulted as to whether they would be willing to diversify out of bananas or that any attempt was made at appraisal to understand the reasons why the farmers had such a mark preference for bananas.
The project set an upper limit of 4 ha (10 acres) for defining its target group. However, 88% of all farmers would qualify under this limit - which proved too high. In fact, 78% of all farmers hold less than half that amount (5 acres) and an estimated 50% of all farmers hold less than 2 acres (one-fourth the area limit allowed by the project). The project also imposed an income criterion: that no beneficiary should have an income of over USD 400 per annum. This limit was pitched too low and most of the beneficiaries were found to be earning much more than that. Moreover, this applied only to agricultural income. This meant that even part-time farmers with high salaried incomes could qualify. The target group selection criteria, therefore, left much to be desired.
In order to ensure better targeting, it is necessary to have a clearer picture of the target groups. The lessons to be learned are, firstly, that non-farm income and employment should be taken into account in targeting; secondly, that the entire family/household should be considered. Thirdly, a greater number of women-headed households tend to fall within the category of the poorer households. Even if their number is conservatively estimated at 35% (of poor rural households), the poor women-headed households could be the target group of an IFAD project.
The above features relating to IFAD's target group in St. Lucia indicate that the target group could be confined to those farming less than 2 acres (less than one-fourth the level allowed by the SFAD project), with preference being given to women-headed households among them. If any future intervention is to be focused mainly on small farmers, it could be confined to those households who gain more than 50% of their income from agriculture. On the other hand, the nature of interventions should not only cover agricultural diversification, but be broader based on opportunities for income diversification.
The project constructed two Rural Service Centres (RSCs), (although one was later destroyed by fire). These supplied inputs to farmers and bought their produce on the basis of contracts, at previously agreed prices. Small farmers' produce was also bought directly by the project (outside the RSCs), sometimes even at a loss.
Credit was linked to marketing, through marketing contracts. Concerning the provision of credit via the St. Lucia Development Bank (SLDB) it has been observed that although it was more liberal in its lending to small farmers than the commercial banks, its transaction costs were higher, and its procedures more dilatory. The mission's field investigations revealed that the SLDB had been able to reach even small farmers with no individual title to land (being owned in undivided shares as "family land"), by utilizing one or more (usually at least two) of the following instruments: chattel mortgage (usually of the farmers' wooden houses), cash deposit and/or one or more guarantors. Although the arrears in repayment were high at one point, continuing collection has left arrears at about 7% on total loans, while more collections are ongoing. The SLDB made no provisions for bad loans, and its portfolio analysis is deficient, facing serious difficulties in estimating in an appropriate way the level of arrears. The SFAD had no savings mobilization feature in its design and the SLDB has not been engaged in any mobilization of savings.
Agricultural research and extension were areas of weakness in the project, with little support being provided by the agricultural extension service of the Ministry of Agriculture. This is partly because the extension officers/service had not been integrated into the project structure, and partly because no incentives (such as transport allowances) had been included in the project to attract them to provide the needed services. The link with the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) for on-farm trials and propagation of planting material was not as good as it could have been.
Marketing proved to be the most important activity of the project, as intended. In addition to the marketing of export crops, the project undertook even the direct farm-gate purchasing of crops from contracted farmers at fixed prices. Despite its many problems, the project definitely contributed to the introduction and propagation of certain crops, such as hot peppers and new (improved) varieties of yams, plantains and mangoes, which still continue to be produced by farmers and exported, although in very small quantities. Above all, the project has shown the efficacy of approaching the problem of crop diversification from the marketing end. It has also shown that the farmers of St. Lucia are quick to respond to positive market or export possibilities, once the marketing end is secured. It has also served to foster a small set of exporters who have developed the confidence, contacts and the capability to carry on further exports in support of diversification. In this light, the project has provided an important basis for any future project with this objective.
The project constructed and equipped a Veterinary Laboratory. However, the mission found that not only were the laboratory facilities hardly being used, but also that its equipment was in neglect and disrepair, due to the lack of adequate trained staff. This underlines the need for capacity building in setting up infrastructure, institutions and services in new technical/institutional areas.
Furthermore, the project could not provide successfully drums or tanks for storage of rain water for drinking purposes because of the fairly widespread provision of piped water systems by the Government. On the other hand, the supply of slabs and material for latrines was implemented successfully as part of the Ministry of Health's ongoing programme.
There were flaws in the project management structure, compounded by inadequate staffing. The project management was supposed to be integrated into the Ministry of Agriculture. But this did not really happen, resulting in it falling between stools. On the one hand, the project was used for ad hoc work of the Ministry, with the Project Coordinator (a Ministry employee) being assigned non-project work. On the other hand, it was also considered an external appendage, and was not able to draw even upon the extension staff of the Ministry for its work. On the other hand, no provision was made in the project for its own staff. e.g. in extension or in accounting.
Nor did the Project Coordinator have the authority or ability to coordinate the inputs expected to be provided by other agencies, either within or outside the Ministry of Agriculture. Nor was the Project Management Committee (referred to in the project document for this purpose) very regular or effective to this end.
Project management lacked trained staff for the functions to be undertaken, while no provision was made for capacity building. The Project Coordinator himself had no previous management experience. Nor was there any trained staff to undertake the project monitoring functions. This was compounded by the inability of the Project Coordinator to hire external staff to carry out these functions.
A major lesson to be learned from this project, therefore, relates to the institutional location and structure of the project. A project, which is by definition, an undertaking with a well defined time-frame and resources, with its own accounting needs (due to the different sources of financing) cannot be involved in the day-to-day operations of a Ministry, nor subject to its operational and procurement procedures. This type of arrangement provides the illusion of sustainability. A separate project management, with staff paid from project funds to carry out the functions expected of it, would have been much more effective.
No management information system was created within the project. There was no regular feed-back of information to the project manager for decision-making, and hence, no effective monitoring of project performance. However, the Project's Coordinator did not really have the decision-making power to take action, except in minor cases, while the Planning and Statistical Unit of the Ministry (responsible for M&E) did not really partake in project management decisions. Furthermore, there was no officer to operate the M&E system. A "baseline survey" was carried out four years after project inception. Evaluation activities were not undertaken (the University of West Indies, with a potential for evaluation activities in St. Lucia and other OECS, was not provided with an opportunity to participate in the project).
The project had received three different consultancies to help establish an M&E system. However, their short duration and discontinuity did not result in the design and installation of a complete M&E system, nor was the local staff trained in its operation. But given the importance of technical assistance in other components of the project, it will be discussed in the following paragraphs.
The project experience (especially in St. Lucia in 1981 or 1985) confirms that a much more positive result could have been achieved with adequate technical assistance (TA) and training, especially at project inception. This is confirmed by the positive experiences in the case of the marketing and communications consultancies, on the one hand, and the inadequacy of the partial or inadequate TA in other cases. As pointed out earlier, the staff and skill situation in the country called for a more comprehensive TA programme for most of the project activities (such as M&E), as well as training. The same applies to the training of local staff where necessary - as in the case of staff for the Veterinary Laboratory.
(i) Crop Diversification Effects: The project's impact on diversification was not significant, mainly because during the period of project implementation it was not in the interests of the small farmers to diversify out of bananas into food crops. Despite this, the project was able to establish a small bridge-head of export crops, mainly of ethnic crops to niche markets in the metropolitan countries. Above all, it was able to create an outward-looking mentality among small farmers, which makes them more amenable to future attempts at diversification. It also undertook the identification of appropriate marketing outlets and likely exporters. Last but not least, the marketing contract which was developed proved to be a useful mechanism.
(ii) Income and Employment Effects: Since the project's total acreages and tonnages of diversified crops were small, the total income and employment effects of the project could not have been significant. As already indicated, no quantitative information was generated by the project or by other sources, which would permit a quantitative evaluation of impact on this dimension.
(iii) Beneficiary Participation: The extent of beneficiary participation was negligible. In fact, although the project decided to diversify out of bananas, the would-be target group was not consulted and the reasons for their persistence in banana production were not taken into account by the project design. Nor were farmers' organizations actively involved in any aspect of implementation. A Group Dynamics Specialist was brought in at the closing stages of the project in order to strengthen farmers' organizations, although this did not materially alter the farmers' ability to actively participate in the project's activities. A conscious effort was also made to establish the second Rural Service Centre around the Desraisseux Cooperative Society; but this too was a top-down affair. The experience with farmers' groups has not been positive in St. Lucia, while the attempts to promote them has not been marked with success.
(iv) Impact on Women: Women were not specifically targeted by the project. Nor is there any information available as to the proportion of women among total project beneficiaries. The mission's field work showed, however, that women's share of credit (7%) was much smaller than their participation in agriculture (31%).
(v) Land Tenure Effects: In many areas, especially among the small holders, a considerable portion of land is held as "family land",in undivided shares, with no individual title. This has not acted as a constraint to banana cultivation by the small holder. Nor has it really affected the project's diversification effects, especially since only short-term crops were involved and, therefore, long-term tenurial security was not so relevant. The type of tenure became a problem mainly because credit systems have not been adapted to accept anything but individual registered titles as collateral. In fact, project credit, to the extent that it accepted other types of security (other than land), enabled small farmers on family land to participate in its production/diversification programmes. Thus the land tenure system has not affected project outcomes, or vice versa. It is necessary to recognize, however, that any future project which tries to diversify out of bananas and annual crops into (longer-maturity) tree crops or into other more capital-intensive activities (intensive livestock or non-agriculture) will face greater problems with regard to investment and credit , due to the type of tenure of the majority of small holders.
The SLDB is the only development bank in St. Lucia and a special SFAD window was opened in the SLDB for credit to small holders. First, with regard to total lending performance, the SLDB was able to lend out only 68% of the credit line made available to it. This was due to a great extent to the fact that there was little demand for credit for crops other than bananas. As soon as loans for mixed banana cultivation were allowed, SLDB's loans almost doubled in two years. The SLDB had a sum of EC$ 127 000 in arrears corresponding to the SFAD project, which constitutes a 7% of the loan disbursed SLDB under the project. It should be noted that the SLDB had not been carrying out an adequate loan portfolio analysis, nor has it made provisions for bad loans, partly because of lack of training.
Concerning the SLDB's outreach under the SFAD, compared to other SLDB's programmes, the average loan size per loanee under the SFAD project was less than half the average size of loan given under the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) window and ten times less than the SLDB's average loan size to its own borrowers. The small size of the average project loan indicates that it reached mainly the small farmers. This was confirmed through the mission's field work, which showed that 70 % of the farmers receiving credit did not have title to their lands and had used other instruments such as chattel mortgage plus one guarantor or a cash deposit (escrow) plus guarantor, etc., to obtain loans. It was also found that approximately 7% of the loanees were women whereas the proportion of female-headed households among agricultural households was 31%. The SLDB was not given any direction by the project that women should be specially targeted. And it has not taken any initiative to cater to this important market segment. Some evidence points out that women may have had greater difficulty with land collateral and in finding guarantors.But the real costs of such lending have proved significant for the small farmer considering especially the small size of loans. These costs include an appraisal fee of 0.5%, an application fee of EC$ 10, trips to the capital and (in many cases) the costs of chattel mortgage.
The SLDB also considers that its costs of lending to the smaller farmers are too high and cannot be covered by the interest rate spread of around 6%, which it received under the project. One possibility would be to raise the interest rate to the borrowers, for whom the transaction costs and delays are much more objectionable than a higher interest rate.
From the point of view of the rural poor and of IFAD, however, the SLDB suffers from a serious shortcoming: it does not accept savings deposits, nor it is interested in doing so. Given the shortage of other appropriate institutions capable of retailing credit to the poor it is likely that if credit for the rural poor would be a component of a future project in St. Lucia, the SLDB will have to be involved. But, in that case, an important TA sub-component should be included.
As this was one of IFAD's "first generation projects" (formulated in 1981), provision for beneficiary participation was not made an essential part of project design or implementation. Thus the small farmers were almost not consulted as to whether they would be willing to diversify out of bananas. In fairness to the project, however, it must be said that it did seek to involve farmers' organizations in the running of the Rural Service Centres (RSC). Recognizing the weaknesses of the first RSC,it was decided to build the second at Anse Ger, basing it on the Desruisseaux Cooperative Society, which was promoted and strengthened for this purpose. A Group Dynamics Specialist was recruited in the final years of the project to help establish and strengthen existing farmers' organizations. Many of these were given formal structures and trained to undertake their business in a more organized manner. However, it is necessary to recognize that farmers' organizations are very weak in St. Lucia: weak in membership, in awareness of cooperative principles, in participation at meetings, and in programming. Particular cooperatives have flourished at particular times under the leadership of one member, but have been known to collapse when that member left (e.g., the STAFF-COOP).
The experience of the project in setting up and strengthening the Desruisseaux cooperative society has resulted in a top-down process, which is not leading to greater responsibilities by its members. At present, the RSC, which is supposed to be run by the cooperative society, is in fact being run by a manager seconded from the Ministry of Agriculture. While any future project should undoubtedly provide assistance to farmers' groups to build up their organization, capabilities and services, it would not seem advisable to build any future project on the basis of existing cooperatives or new ones to be created by the project.
Under these circumstances, the only farmers' organization that has the coverage, organization, institutional presence and infrastructure to carry out such an agricultural diversification programme over the whole country, is the St. Lucia Banana Growers' Association (SLBGA). It is also a stable organization, having been in existence from 1953. It also has some weaknesses, e.g., its rather high degree of politicization. But it is undisputedly the farmers' organization with the widest membership (over 10 000 registered members, of whom at least 7 000 are active). It has countrywide coverage, with 16 Inland Buying Depots as well as depots for the distribution of inputs. It has more than 600 daily and monthly paid workers, including information and extension workers, a fleet of over 15 vehicles and even an aeroplane for pesticide spraying. It is known and welcomed by all farmers in St. Lucia, most of whom have dealt with it at one time or another, in respect of their banana production and marketing.
The SLBGA has recently come to accept the fact that it is in its best interest and that of its members to help them to diversify out of bananas - at least partially. It is, therefore, now willing to carry out a diversification programme, using its membership, staff, institutional and infrastructure capability to do so. The fact that its Interim Board of Directors also includes government representatives would also encourage it to assist in the government's avowed diversification policy.
Given the difficulties of the diversification venture, in order to minimize transaction and transition costs it is advisable to capitalize on the strengths of those institutions that have already worked in an acceptable way with the rural poor of St. Lucia, cooperating in their upgrading and adaptation to the current and future needs of IFAD's target group. This is particularly the case of the SLBGA which could play a key role in the process of diversification. The institutional and operational feasibility of such an approach has already been demonstrated in other parts of Latin America (e.g., in Costa Rica, where its Banana Growers Association (ASBANA) has spearheaded its diversification programme out of bananas, while Colombia has used its coffee growers association to help it to diversify out of coffee).
The small farmers are usually mixed farmers, with (today) the largest part of their farms under bananas. Responding to a fall in the price of bananas, they will only reduce the area planted to bananas and increase the area under other crops. Diversification will come only in small doses from small farmers, and any programme of diversification should plan accordingly.
Moreover, over 50% of small farmers are only part-time farmers. Even in the case of the farmers whose main occupation is agriculture, they are likely to be more part-time farmers, a large part of whose total household income coming from off-farm sources. This is even more so in the case of female-headed households. Hence, the objectives of any future project needs to be based on the realities of the target group and their needs and should, therefore, aim at income diversification rather than at crop diversification alone .
It is also necessary to take a broader view of the possible of bananas than as merely fruits for export. Bananas have a potential market as a food to be cooked and eaten when still green, while it can also be refined through agro-processing into other food/forms such as banana chips and snacks. Bananas also have great potential as a main constituent of animal feed. For example, the IFAD-funded technical assistance grant to CARDI has shown that bananas can be used as a raw material to feed small ruminants up to 40% of their total food intake with equal food efficiency as presently provided by commercial concentrates and imported feed, but at much lower cost. Thus, bananas have a future in the context of any diversification programme based on intensive small livestock production by small farmers. Banana products and handicrafts made from banana leaves and stems also have a market. For all these reasons it is necessary that a diversification programme be preceded by, or done concurrently with, an equally important programme aimed at exploiting the full potential of bananas and their by-products, including spin-off effects in other sectors such as the livestock industry.
Due to all the above factors, the need is one of gradual diversification over time, in response to falling banana prices. But this must be done in the context of the development of alternative proven cropping/product mixes for the small farmer. This should be done before the small farmer is asked to diversify, and not before viable alternatives are found, as in the case of the last project.
It is also clear that any substitute must be in terms of an integrated system, made up if necessary of many strands, which together could hopefully meet most of the production, cash flow and land use criteria of the small farmers, all of which are presently met by their banana cultivation (alone). This would require intensive production systems, which could involve multi-tiered cropping, e.g. a field crop (say pineapples), a middling "tree" crop (say plantains, instead of bananas), a vine crop (which can grow vertically upwards without taking too much space on the land - say black pepper), a tree crop (say cocoa, breadfruit or a fodder tree), etc. Into such a multi-layered system could be inserted small livestock at ground level and bees (apiculture) above. It is not presumed to recommend the components of a system which can be accommodated within a farm of two acres (the average holding of a small farmer) but to indicate lines along which solutions will need to be found. In this case, much can be learned from the CARDI/IFAD On-Farm Small Ruminant Development Project. It is interesting to note that the Interim Final Report of that Technical Assistance Grant (July 1993) records that small flock sizes bring in higher returns per person day than larger flock sizes and that the 5-ewe flock model provides the highest return per ewe, as well as the highest estimated annual cash flow. This offers the hope that integrated crop-livestock systems can be devised which could meet the income, labour and environmental criteria essential for the small farmers' production and coping systems.
It is necessary, however, to add another dimension to the diversification debate. And this is to ensure that the small farmers are not eliminated in the name of diversification. The government strategy at present is to reduce banana cultivation by taking "marginal lands" out of banana production, the latter being confined only to those well-endowed farms, which are supposedly capable of producing the high yields, which alone can make St. Lucia competitive in the world banana market. It is not a coincidence that these "marginal lands" are operated by small farmers, often without registered titles (even if owned by them).
Firstly, it is necessary to note that the only comparative study on productivity and cost of banana cultivation in St. Lucia (quote reference), shows that the smaller farmers on these "marginal lands" have attained the same levels of land productivity (yields) as the larger farmers on the richer lands. Secondly, since these latter lands are the better-endowed lands, it is logical that they will better be able to bear the costs and risks and positive gains of diversification. But thirdly, it is the smaller farmer, on the more difficult lands, who does not have the resources (nor the title for credit), who is being asked to pay the price and take the risks of diversification, into as yet unspecified crops. This is really asking too much. Bananas provide the means of survival for these people and IFAD should not connive in taking the food out of their mouths, unless it can ensure a remunerative and workable alternative - which is still not in sight.
It is again necessary to state the odds which the small farmers would have to face in the proposed process of diversification. First, they suffer from the structural disability of inadequate holdings. Secondly, they suffer from the physical disability that their holdings are often on sloping lands, which present particular technological and environmental problems when it comes to diversification (which are not faced by the lands "exempted" from diversification). These problems are compounded by the tenurial difficulty that these small farmers (usually) do not have title to the lands they cultivate. This in turn brings on the institutional difficulty that they cannot obtain credit due to the fact that the credit systems (requiring collateral) cannot presently cater to these lands (unless of course, new means can be found). To add to this already tangled web of difficulties, is now added the technological difficulty of finding adequately rewarding crops which can be grown on their already disadvantaged (sloping)lands, while also avoiding the environmental hazards that go with them. The desirable and feasible types of agro-technological options available would require the planting of tree crops (for environmental conservation) on these sloping lands). But it is these same small holders who, for the reasons set out above, cannot afford the long wait for the income from these tree crops, nor command the necessary credit (due to their tenurial situation) to meet the costs of these and other possible crop/livestock options. IFAD needs, therefore, to be careful that it does not compound the structural and institutional dispossession of the small farmer by a further technological dispossession, in the name of diversification.
Another important aspect to take into account in the design of an effective diversification strategy springs from an analysis of the characteristics of IFAD's prospective target group. The incidence of part-time farming is likely to be well over 50% among the smallest holders and especially among female-headed households, while it is also possible that even in the case of a so-called full-time farmer, a greater part of his/her total household income may derive from non-farm earnings of other household members.
This suggests that solutions to the small farm and poverty problem (in the case of diversification out of bananas) should be in the direction of income diversification rather than agricultural diversification only. This could also include small industries and enterprises, which could tap the expanding frontiers of the tourist trade. The need for changes in this direction is also borne out by the structural changes in the economy, in which the tourist trade has become the engine of growth. Instead of looking to agriculture alone for increasing the incomes of the poor, any future project must try to catch these favourable winds of change for the benefit of the target group by linking both agriculture and non-farm activities to the growth pole of the economy, namely, hotels and tourism.
To sum-up, the St. Lucia farmers have been progressively locked into banana growing due to several reasons which are discussed in this evaluation report. The SFAD project, though in a rather marginal way, has provided some opportunities for an alternative path, not dependent on banana exports. The challenge of any new IFAD project is to accelerate the process of the rural poor's income diversification in the context of a shrinking market for bananas.
Toledo Small Farmers Development
The aim of the Interim Evaluation Mission (IEM) was to review the implementation of the Toledo Small Farmers Development Project (TSFDP) in relation to the stated hypotheses, strategies, targets and budget; to identify the crucial factors influencing implementation; and to evaluate the degree to which project objectives have been achieved. On the basis of implementation experience the IEM was to recommend whether a second phase to the project was warranted, and, if so, to propose future project concepts, strategies and broad design features.
The Toledo district, which is the most southerly of Belize’s six main administrative units, is bordered on the west and south by Guatemala and to the east by the Caribbean Sea. Of its total area of 4 650 km2, about 100 000 ha are suitable for annual crops, fruit trees and pastures. The district is composed of flat coastal plains, gently rolling foothills and undulating lowlands, and the relatively high Maya Mountains reaching about 1 000 metres in elevation. Four main rivers, which are noted for rapidly rising water levels during the wetter season, make access to the southern half of the district by land almost impossible. Main access to Belize City and Belmopan, the capital, is by road (340 km), half of which is unsealed.
The uplands are classified as wet sub-tropical, with annual precipitation of 3 000 to 4 500 mm, while the lowlands, with a yearly rainfall of 2 000 to 3 500 mm, have a wet tropical climate. Severe storms, which sometimes significantly damage crops, occur in the wetter season (June to November). Soils are quite deep in the lowlands but generally shallow in the hill areas. In south-western Toledo, where farmers are concentrated, soils are quite fertile.
The total population in the Toledo district was about 14 100 in 1985 and 17 500 according to a 1991 census. Of the 2 710 households estimated in 1985, some 78% were rural, living in villages and settlements ranging from 12 to 430 persons. The largest group, the Ketchi Maya, increased from 32% to nearly 41%, while the second largest group, the Mopan Maya, decreased from 25% to 22% from 1985 to 1991. This change in proportions of the two groups may have been affected by refugees and economic immigrants predominantly of Ketchi Maya extraction settling in the project area. In 1991 the Mestizo, Garifuna, East Indian and Creole ethnic groups represented 11.9%, 10.0%, 7.9% and 5.7% of the population, respectively.
The Staff Appraisal Report (SAR) stated that in Toledo district, a priority area in the Government of Belize's (GOB) overall plans, the main constraints to agricultural production were poor marketing, lack of transport infrastructure, inadequate services and the unavailability of inputs. With specific reference to the Maya Indians, the SAR noted that shifting subsistence slash-and-burn cropping was practised and that with increasing land pressure, it was no longer sustainable. The project was designed to replace the shifting cultivation, which prevailed among small farmers, by demonstrating and assisting with the implementation of improved, stabilised farming systems. Technical packages of proven practices, some of which were already in use within the district, were said to be adequate and available.
Basically the project was to focus on providing the small farmers with access to essential services and improved production technologies. This was to be achieved by improving government services in the areas of farm credit, extension, input supplies and marketing facilities. To improve services the project would support increases in staff numbers, staff training, better extension-research coordination, the establishment of retailing and marketing depots and the provision of credit.
The basic objectives of the project were summarised in the SAR as follows:
to improve the income and consequently the standard of living of a group of small, mostly subsistence farmers now living in isolation, by bringing them into modern agriculture;
- to increase their agricultural production and productivity, as well as their involvement in the economic and social activities of the country;
- to strengthen the institutions which provide support to the farmers, including agricultural extension and credit; and
- to augment the physical infrastructure for handling, processing and marketing the main crops.
Of the 2 110 rural households in 1985, an estimated 1 620 or about 78% were considered to be small farmers, a number which was expected to increase to about 1 700 by the time the project commenced, according to the SAR. The farm income of the target group was estimated at USD 1 000 per household per year or USD 175 per capita. Child mortality was 66.5 per 1 000, which was much higher than the national average of 40, while infant malnutrition in Toledo district at 49% was the highest in Belize.
The SAR was originally conducted in 1985. Because of the need to coordinate with the USAID financed project, the Toledo Agricultural Marketing Project (TAMP), the loan agreement was signed in 1987 and the project did not become effective until August 1988. Its envisaged five-year duration was extended twice, initially until October 1993 and later until April 1995 (activities to be closed by October 1994). The project's total budget was some USD 2.9 million, plus USD 1.0 million through TAMP. IFAD's original contribution was approximately USD 2.2 million.
Main project outputs
The project’s performance has been quite erratic. As noted in the Mid-Term Evaluation (MTE) in January 1992, the project had a very slow start-up, with little being achieved before 1991 and a successive build-up in loan allocation and disbursements once several misconceptions in project design had been overcome. It also was characterised by variable performance in staffing, including a permanent lack of extension officers, insufficient experience of SMSs and excessively frequent turnover of project technical staff. The project's major outputs are summarised in the following paragraphs.
Expenditure. According to IFAD records, 75% of project funds had been disbursed by the end of June 1994, compared to 41% at the time of the MTE conducted in January 1992. The overall disbursement is relatively poor, considering that project life has been extended by two years. The low disbursement in the credit category (43%) which amounts to 31% of the project’s funding, together with an under-utilisation of funds for M&E and consultants services, has heavily affected overall disbursement.
Facilities. Although there were delays, the project infrastructure was built as stipulated in the SAR. It built two marketing depots, a feedmill and livestock holding facilities, took over facilities established by a previous project at Blue Creek as the project’s operational centre, and provided housing for project staff and extension officers.
Staffing. The project clearly suffered from a lack of direction until the appointment of a new PD in March 1991, after which project performance picked up. In terms of staff technical assistance (TA), the positions stipulated in the appraisal were filled, except for the Accountant (not filled until 1991) and the Marketing Specialist. The situation with counterpart staff for the project's Farm Systems Specialist and Livestock Specialist provided under TA, and Extension Officers (EOs) who were to be provided by the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA), was variable. After some delays counterpart staff were provided, but their involvement in project activities diminished after the departure of the TA specialists, and for a period in 1993 both counterpart positions were unfilled. The MOA at no time staffed the district adequately with EOs. Overall, staffing (both in number and quality) has been one of the least positive project features.
When it became apparent that the MOA was unable to provide adequate advisory services, the project, in response to a suggestion by OPS, instigated a Village Farmer Helper (VFH) scheme. Key farmers in remote areas, chosen by their peers and the project/MOA, received some training and are expected to provide advice to their fellow villagers in the future. This methodology, provided the VFHs receive adequate support, has several advantages, i.e.: it could help overcome the MOA staffing problems; through feedback from VFHs, it could also provide a better understanding of farmers' aspirations and limitations; thirdly, it could help overcome communication problems related to language barriers or to the disinclination by villagers to cooperate with government officials. Progress with the VFH scheme is encouraging, but better training as well as continuing material and technical support will be needed.
Agricultural Development. The project has made progress toward its objectives of increased production and encouragement of sedentary agriculture through the provision of advice, better genetic material, credit and the allocation of surveyed plots of land to farmers under individual title. Activities not entailing borrowing from TSFDP-provided funds are difficult to quantify, particularly as the project's M&E component was almost totally ineffective. Enterprises requiring credit (especially for medium- to long-term development loans) are easier to quantify.
Over 1 600 farmers attended training courses from 1991 to 1994, on topics as diverse as the safe use of chemicals, livestock husbandry and land preparation for rice. The project also procured and distributed improved strains of poultry, pigs and cattle, as well as some seed throughout the district. A kitchen vegetable garden scheme recently promoted by the project now involves women in 12 villages and has the potential to further involve women in development. The impact of training on production is uncertain, except for rice.
Data available to the IEM showed increased crop production only in the case of rice. As it evolved, the project concentrated on rice with 83% of loans (in number) and 67.3% of the loan value going to rice-based enterprises. By facilitating the surveying and allocation of over 230 blocks of land and providing more than 100 development loans for rice (together with about 130 crop loans), the project contributed to the expansion of mechanized rice in Toledo district, where estimated total rice production (paddy) increased from 3 137 tons in 1988 to 4 113 tons in 1993.
GOB price policy on rice also played a major role in such production increase. Until 1993/94 the Toledo rice producers were in a relatively favourable position, since rice production in Belize did not meet domestic demand and BMB was paying a subsidised price, on average, of over B$ 0.22/lb paddy which was well above the world price equivalent. However, if national production in 1994/95 rises to over 14 000 tons compared to 9 600 tons in 1993/94 (BMB estimates), it is conceivable that Toledo will have trouble selling rice. The GOB is faced with a serious dilemma on how to dispose of a potentially huge surplus of rice and how to deal with the increasing burden on its budget due to its price policy on rice.
The uncertain sustainability of the current level of price subsidies on rice has led the IEM to be very cautious about the present success of TSFDP in increasing production of mechanized rice by concentrating most of its resources on this investment. It would appear from the data presented to the IEM that few mechanised rice producers could withstand a substantial drop in price. With lower prices, rice cultivation can only remain profitable with high yields. Yet, weeds and a drop in the amount of fertiliser used are likely to become limiting factors, making it necessary to fallow or rotate land; in addition, the issue of drainage is still unsolved. If mechanized rice production becomes unprofitable, the repayment of a large share of DFC portfolio under TSFDP will be in jeopardy.
At this stage suitable alternative enterprises have not been confirmed as financially viable. The 37 citrus and 18 cattle loans are still in the development stage, therefore they have not contributed to production as yet. Their financial outcome with respect to viability and sustainability is still uncertain.
Achievement of project objectives
The primary objective of the project was to improve the income and consequently the standard of living of a group of small, mostly subsistence farmers by introducing new agricultural practices and inputs. Thus their agricultural production and productivity would be increased and they would be more involved in the economic and social activities of the country.
Assuming that the granting of a legal lease on land and approval for development loans are valid indicators of a shift from slash-and-burn farming to sedentary agriculture, by June 1994 the project had reached a maximum of 235 households. Since some of these leases have undoubtedly gone to farmers already engaged in sedentary farming (and others, including public servants and businessmen from Punta Gorda), the proportion of farmers within the target group that has been introduced to settled farming is small. Nevertheless, the project has kindled interest among other shifting agriculturalists to obtain their own individual leases, if not for increased productivity, at least to have their own land. Therefore, the project has introduced a relatively small number of farmers to sedentary farming and raised the possibility of more following the same path.
There is little information on whether the income and standard of living of project beneficiaries has actually been improved, partly due to a lack of monitoring by the project. Given the current level of subsidies on rice, mechanised rice for farmers achieving yields of 2 500 lb/acre or more are profitable, and some 230 loans (development and crop) have been granted for this activity. It is too early to assess the impact of cattle and citrus loans, but the prognosis (for the latter certainly) is not encouraging.
A second objective was to strengthen the institutions which provide support to the farmers, including agricultural extension and credit. In this respect the IEM's main conclusions are as follows:
- while the project enhanced the operational capacity of the district's MOA, its effects with regard to training and improvement in the mode of operation appear limited;
- the build-up of the DFC's institutional capacity has benefitted from the provision of an additional staff member and better operating means. Yet, in spite of the excellent performance of its staff in Punta Gorda, the DFC still suffers from a limited capability to operate effectively in servicing loans, providing technical advice and supervising loan repayments in the field; and
- the project enhanced the Ministry of Natural Resources' operational capability and its ability to relate to farmers.
The project's third objective was to develop the physical infrastructure for handling, processing and marketing the main crops. While providing most of the stipulated infrastructure, the project's achievements fell far short of its aspirations. Aside from the organic cacao development, the project has achieved virtually nothing in the way of identifying produce markets and marketing channels. The failure of the GOB to sanction the employment of a marketing specialist has caused serious setbacks in the project.
On the positive side, the project has helped coordinate marketing of rice through the Belize Marketing Board's milling facility and appears to have defined a niche to market "organic" cacao. It established two marketing/input supply depots and has trained personnel in the management of these, in addition to the one built by TAMP. The depots have essentially served as input suppliers and have not achieved any marketing function. Under the guidance of the project, management of the depots is improving, but their viability is tenuous, given their presently limited function.
Relevance of project design
The original design was based on a number of assumptions, some of which proved to be valid, e.g. the following:
- that Toledo district was a marginal area where most inhabitants (mainly Maya Indians) were eligible for IFAD assistance;
- that the traditional slash-and-burn cultivation system was not sustainable in the long run and had to be modified; and
- that the demand for credit was important enough to launch a credit program as an essential part of the TSFDP.
Other SAR assumptions were not validated during the course of implementation. These include the following:
- that the technology for modifying the existing slash-and-burn system was available and ready for dissemination to the project's target group. This proved incorrect and, in what appeared to be a conscious policy decision, the project switched much of its efforts to mechanised rice farming (where it was possible) as a first step in sedentary farming;
- that the two cash crops promoted, cacao and annatto, were financially attractive. The opposite proved to be the case, due to changes in world prices and the absence of internal mechanisms of price stabilization;
- that DFC, as it was structured, was ready to be used as TSFDP's credit delivery system. While it was essentially correct to assume that credit was a major bottleneck to development, the design did not appear to be aware of the consequences on targeting objectives implied by the need for legal individual access to land as a collateral for borrowing from DFC for development loans. Given land tenure arrangements on (real or supposed) Maya reservation land, the SAR did not consider the target group's need of credit delivery, supervision and management mechanisms to be compatible with traditional socio-economic structures and communal land ownership, especially on the hills; and
- that TAMP and TSFDP were to complement each other in marketing development with some critical interaction between staff members. In reality, the envisaged cooperation never took place and the marketing components of both projects fell short of their goals.
The SAR assumed that the farmers belonging to the target group were aware of increased population pressure on land and therefore, were prepared to change their farming systems. While an objective assessment indicates that currently much of the target area cannot sustain a cycle of seven years' fallow followed by one year's cropping, farmers appear to be far from convinced that their traditional method of farming is being eroded because of land pressure. However, as a result of the project, some villages promoted land titling on what the villagers considered their communal land, and are beginning to realize that land shortages are becoming a reality.
With regard to coordination, the SAR assumed that through the mechanism of the National and District Coordinating Committees, without any single line of control, the district's MOA and the project could coordinate their activities and act essentially as one. This did not always prove to be the case. It was probably unrealistic of the design to expect a degree of cooperation and coordination without a single authority being ultimately responsible for implementation.
The assumption that DFC could effectively reach and service small farmers, whose cash requirements for inputs were small, was too optimistic. DFC would not lend without land security and, for reasons of costs, it was not interested in small loans to individuals. Other lending mechanisms were obviously needed if the bulk of the target group were to be reached.
The sustainability of the programmes and activities established and promoted under the project is likely to depend on the future performance of marketing, credit, advisory services and, with regard to subsidies (particularly on rice), of government policies. The identification and promotion of new and modified farming systems will be critical to attain sustainable agricultural production.
Because the IEM is convinced that population pressure eventually will impose substantial changes to traditional shifting agriculture, and that enterprises established under the project need further support, a second phase of the project is recommended but only with major shifts in emphasis and only under certain conditions. Because of the numerous problems identified in the course of implementation of the first phase, IFAD should negotiate procedures and means as to avoid the recurrence of the same problems in the future. Some guidelines are given by the IEM in this respect, as specified below.
Extreme care should be exerted when attempting to incorporate fundamental changes to existing farming systems. The assumption must not be made that changes appearing necessary and logical to planners coincide with the views and aspirations of the target group. Instead, a programme of field problem analysis, applied research and field demonstrations should be undertaken in consultation with the target group at all times. A time-frame of at least seven years should be allowed for such a programme.
Before allocating implementation responsibilities, the mandate of the organisation selected should be carefully scrutinised to see if it has the means to carry out the proposed tasks. For instance, DFC required land collateral and was ill-equipped and unenthusiastic about making small loans to small farmers since the beginning of TSFDP.
The project should not give excessive significance to cooperation and coordination between implementing agencies without the presence of a single line of authority. The MOA was designated as the implementing agency, with responsibility for the overall coordination of project activities. Yet, it was unable to assure an adequate level of coordination between the TSFDP and the other implementing agencies. As regards extension activities, the IEM recommends that such inability be avoided by unifying the two functions of project director and district's MOA into a single line of authority.
The second phase should focus on the farmers in the foothills and hills, but should also develop assistance to farms supported during the first phase, as a period of consolidation will be necessary. Should IFAD management approve a second phase, it should be preceded by a number of essential studies and clarifications by GOB on several issues (see below, section 2.a) and it would include some key issues, as explained below (section 2.b).
(a) Pre-project activities
The following studies are recommended prior to final project preparation (these could be conducted as part of a further extension to phase one, should it be granted) and approval:
- Marketing. This critical activity represents the marketing TA that was not implemented in phase one. The study would aim at the identification and appraisal of marketing opportunities and mechanisms; it would form the linchpin for future activities. Given that the Toledo district is disadvantaged, particularly with regard to communication, a specialist, with the help of the MOA and commercial organisations, should clearly identify any advantages that Toledo has in enterprise development. Conversely, it should rigorously exclude enterprises where the district has a comparative disadvantage. The assessments, while focusing on the needs of the Toledo district, should not be carried out in isolation but should take into account the overall policies that the GOB is reportedly in the process of developing;
- Rice Policy. The existing rice policy should be reviewed, with particular reference to a number of elements including production patterns (milpa and mechanized rice), future price policy, national self-sufficiency, quality control, technologies used, and impact of actual/proposed policies on the different regions and ethnic groups of Belize. Inter alia, an action plan for rice production by small farmers in Toledoshould also be defined by GOB;
- Credit. In order to assess the effectiveness and health of its portfolio in Toledo, DFC should carry out a survey on the impact of its credit activities (including technologies used and recovery policy) on the productivity and income of beneficiaries;
- DFC. An assessment is needed of whether DFC, given its mandate, can realistically lend to small farmers, particularly individuals without legal access to land. Should DFC prove unequal to the task of lending to small farmers, other mechanisms (i.e. NGOs) should be sought;
- Teaching/Research Facility. While the project headquarters will be the project-sponsored office block near Punta Gorda, a detailed study into expanding the current project headquarters at Blue Creek into a training and research facility is recommended. The purpose of the centre should include: (a) agricultural training for school drop-outs, farmers and their children, MOA staff and, in particular, Village Farmer Helpers (VFHs), and (b) a small research facility to serve as a base for on-farm investigations to be promoted during phase two;
- Drainage. As poor drainage is likely to limit other agricultural activities on a significant proportion of the land currently used for mechanised rice, a clear picture of the actual situation is needed. A study on the implications of poor drainage, methods and costs of improving drainage is recommended;
- Roads/Civil Engineering. As the IEM is recommending improved access to remote areas through a modest road programme, a plan with cost estimates and priorities of roads suggested should be prepared; and
- Monitoring and Evaluation. An M&E system appropriate to the needs of a phase two project, that can be easily handled by project personnel, should be developed. A study for this purpose, which will include proposals on staff training, is recommended. The possibility of contracting a non-government agency for M&E purposes should be considered given the past poor performance of the institution in charge of the implementation of this component (MED).
(b) Phase two: project proposals
The components of a phase two and the manner in which they are implemented will depend to a large extent on the pre-project investigations now being proposed by the IEM, as well as on the preliminary negotiations that IFAD should have with the GOB before the appraisal of a potential second phase (e.g. on inter-agency coordination, quality and quantity of staffing, political commitment of GOB to project objectives, credit delivery, extension, etc.). They will, however, contain some key elements which are summarised in the following paragraphs.
As an overall strategy, the second-phase project would use the village’s social structure to promote development activities and assure that the views of the village are fully recognised and taken into account in project design, rather than concentrate on individual households.
The project would concentrate on promoting development activities in the foothills and hills, where lives most of the target group that was not reached by phase-one TSFDP, while consolidating activities in foothill and lowland areas that already benefited from the project services.
To promote development in the foothills and hills, it is recommended that the following measures be adopted:
- use adequate technical assistance to identify alternative farming systems suited to hillsides and test them on site as necessary. It is essential that a farm system and a village approach, and not an individual crop and household approach, be adopted;
- to ensure that identified markets, credit delivery channels and mechanisms, and mainly technologies can be adequately tested and promoted, a project life of seven years, with a thorough interim evaluation after two years, is recommended;
- develop a technology transfer system including the village community as a whole through the VFH system as well as individual farmers as necessary;
- considerably extend the village household garden programme, both because of its potential to improve household nutrition and to provide a stepping-stone for future activities;
- in order to facilitate socio-economic development in remote villages, initiate a road improvement programme; and
- retain the TSFDP facilities at Blue Creek as a training and modest research centre.
If positively assessed by the second phase MTE, the VFH system should be extended to other districts after the VFHs are properly trained at the TSFDP Blue Creek Centre.
The project would promote credit mechanisms which are more "user-friendly" than those currently used by DFC, but only for activities proven to be viable. Supervision of all loans provided under the project would be actively promoted. The project would elicit cooperation between DFC (or another agency if necessary) and the village community in promoting and supervising activities and encouraging loan repayments.
The farming activities established by TSFDP would be supported and/or modified as necessary. The longer term future of both rice and citrus appearing precarious, the project would endeavour to increase the profitability of those enterprises by promoting better crop husbandry, while at the same time instigating alternative complementary activities. In this manner rice, as a mono-culture, would be de-emphasised.
Should the recommended studies confirm economic feasibility, the project would assist in the establishment of a small citrus processing facility and promote a drainage network wherever appropriate.
Subject to economic and environmental sustainability, livestock production should be promoted, partly through the financing of an abattoir.
Using the strategies developed in the recommended study looking at developing the facilities at Blue Creek as a training/project research centre, the project would concentrate on developing the VFH extension concept more fully. To effectively do this, training would be critical. Technical assistance would be used as necessary to train Subject Matter Specialists (SMSs) and Extension Officers (EOs) both in technical matters and extension methodology. The VFHs would be trained by the EOs and SMSs with some direct input from TA.
As far as project organization and management is concerned, the following approach is recommended:
- the MOA would have overall responsibility for coordinating project implementation;
- at the district level, the duties of Project Director (PD) and District Agricultural Officer (DAO) would be carried out by the same person. This person would delegate much of his routine duties to a deputy DAO. In this manner the project would have a single line of control and be more likely to stay "on course". It is critical that the PD/DAO be a competent and dynamic senior person with similar capabilities to the TSFDP's current PD;
- the coordinating committees would be convened as necessary, generally at the request of the PD/DAO, and meet with supervising missions;
- a substantial amount of TA would be used for training, adaptive research and marketing. The TA personnel's terms of reference should be clear. Such personnel should not be overburdened with a multitude of tasks. They would report directly, and formally, to the PD/DAO; and
- GOB would prove its capacity to effectively monitor project activities along lines agreed with IFAD.
These proposals are essentially in line with the MOA's policy of introducing effective agricultural training programmes, developing an aggressive market information system and promoting agro-processing in the project area.
Smallholder Cattle Development Project (1994)
In the 1970s, the Indonesian economy grew robustly as a result of favourable economic policies. Since 1981, however, the fall in oil prices has caused a severe deterioration in the country's external terms of trade. Economic policy measures taken in recent years aimed at achieving economic growth and stability and included restraints on public expenditures, tax reforms, and a more active exchange rate policy.
One of the strategies adopted by the Government of Indonesia (GOI) for spreading economic growth is the opening up of new lands for agricultural production through the Transmigration Programme. Lack of draught power, however, has constrained the cultivation of more lands for food and tree crop production. To overcome this constraint, GOI launched a programme aimed at supplying draught animals to the transmigration areas.
The primary objective was to increase agricultural production by overcoming the draught power constraint. The components of the project included phased procurement of 45 000 cattle over a five-year period for distribution in the provinces of Sumatra, establishment of a Project Management Office (PMO), provision of infrastructure for cattle transfer, forage improvement, technical assistance and programme support including research into the Jembrana disease.
Increased food production was envisaged at appraisal as the principal benefit of the project. The major beneficiaries were expected to be about 40 500 smallholders in southern Sumatra. It was assumed that cattle could be procured at reasonable prices and that poor farmers in transmigration areas would be willing and able to receive and care for the animal. Specific, quantified assumptions, were embodied in calculations of the project's economic and financial viability.
IFAD considered the potential socio-economic impact of the project to be sufficient to justify the risks involved. The total project cost was USD 40 million with IFAD financing some 65% of the costs. A Loan Agreement between GOI and IFAD signed in June 1980, provided GOI with a loan of SDR 20 800 000 over a six-year period.
Project Coordination and Management. Coordination by an Inter-Departmental Steering Committee 1and an (intra-departmental) Technical Steering Committee has been adequate and provided high-level policy support. Liaison with other government agencies improved over the life of the project as project procedures and reporting were refined. At the provincial level a similar inter-departmental committee coordinated project activities under the chairmanship of the Governor. Meetings were called only as the need arose, but coordination at provincial level never created serious problems, although lines of functions and authority had to be kept under constant review. There was a general lack of coordination with other livestock distribution programmes in such areas as targets for procurement, studies and investigations on common aspects, and in terms of exchanging implementation experience.
The project was characterized by strong management, which was assisted by a detailed and functional Management Information System (MIS). Initially, the operations of the PMO were impaired by the lack of a proper office, transport and office facilities. When PMO finally moved back into the main DGLS office, this resulted in improved relationships with other DGLS operations and a firmer control over budget planning and finances.
Initially, project activities at the provincial level were to be handled by the regular staff of the DGLS, organized into task forces. However, when it was recognized that these teams needed to be strengthened and brought under the more direct control of the PMO, Provincial Management Units (PMUs) were created as separate entities, thereby strengthening the functional ties of the project with its field personnel. The fact that the project would often be a major component of the activities of the provincial livestock services meant that activities had to be integrated into the provincial livestock administration. This proved to be highly conducive for the sustainability of activities. By the end of the project, PMUs had become one of the most effective implementing arms of the project. Their good relationships with the provincial livestock services and other agencies have contributed to better coordination not only within the livestock sub-sector activities but also with the staff of other government agencies. The PMUs provided the link between the PMO and field staff and between PMO and provincial government authorities. PMU chiefs were mainly functioning as coordinators, but their management role increased when the units were increasingly entrusted with greater responsibility by PMO to handle implementation problems at the provincial level. This enhanced their integration into the regular livestock services and strengthened links with other provincial services.
Small task forces at provincial level with a veterinarian, an animal husbandry officer and a forage agronomist officer plus support staff were established (SATGAS). These task forces operated under the administrative control of the provincial authorities and received technical direction from PMO. The establishment of the SATGAS teams has been very successful. The diversion from the original plan of having district and provincial level field staff, to the concept of SATGAS teams situated in the locations themselves proved sound. Their ability to carry out hands-on management ensured continuity of progress of the project and provided farmers with basic support. The SATGAS played a pivotal role in the operation of an effective MIS.
Whilst not a problem in the early days, the ever increasing number of participants and size of project herds has however implied a disproportional amount of SATGAS time being spent on data collection, administration and bookkeeping. This also led to the slow processing of loan documentation, particularly in peak periods of cattle procurement. SATGAS teams cooperated with extension staff from other departments and especially with the sub-district livestock services, largely on an informal basis.
The level of training received by key farmers is generally high. However, the transmission of information from key farmers to group members has been weak. It is important for the SATGAS to closely supervise the transfer of knowledge to group members and to ensure that this process is functioning effectively.
Project performance was clearly enhanced by the careful screening and selection of staff employed at all levels. Important elements in staff performance have been the honoraria paid by the project over and above normal civil service conditions and adequate provision for such items as housing, travel, vehicles, equipment and training.
Consultancy services played a major role in the project and it can be argued that the overall success of the project is partially attributable to the involvement of national and expatriate consultants. The question is whether there was a trend to diminish the reliance on consultants (national or foreign), and whether this was translated into less consultancy services as project staff learned from the consultants and assimilated the knowledge and skills acquired into their daily activities. This was clearly not the case; in fact the reliance on consultant's services during project implementation was even heavier than expected. It is acknowledged that it is not easy to recruit good Indonesian project management personnel on the basis of relatively low civil service salaries. One solution would be to hire qualified Indonesians as consultants and assign them line responsibilities. Some of the technical assistance used by the project falls into this category.
Civil Works, Vehicles and Equipment. Funds were provided for livestock handling facilities, quality control and observance of quarantine. During implementation, the quality control centres were replaced by holding grounds, to process units of 550 or 1 100 head of cattle. This allowed better handling of large numbers of cattle and provided longer term benefits for the livestock industry. The civil works programme was confronted with considerable delays, especially in the early years as a result of procedural problems in project start-up, difficulties in obtaining suitable sites, GOI's budgeting delays, and hesitation by the provincial authorities because they were not convinced at first about the project's long-term benefits.
Most of the handling facilities were constructed by private contractors and results have been satisfactory. The design of holding grounds was standardized bearing in mind future use and reductions in costs. The mission inspected several of the sites and found that constructions were solid and spacious, with the exception of cattle dips that were judged too small. Locations were not always optimal but it was understood that land availability was a constraint, especially near harbours. It was noted that for some structures specifications may have been excessive, particularly due to their limited post-project use. Maintenance of the structures varied from location to location, with some clearly in need of serious work, whereas others (i.e. on Bali, where frequent use was made of the facility) were well kept.
The project purchased 192 motorcycles and 71 vehicles. Government procurement procedures were often slow and budgeting was not always timely. No funds had been allocated for the replacement of motorcycles, but replacements procured under the second phase (SCDP-II) partly resolved this issue.
Cattle Procurement. A total of 52 410 head of cattle were procured, 16.5 % more than the appraisal target of 45 000. Traders' profit margins did not appear to have been excessive, although a certain amount of overpricing occurred during the first rounds of procurement. Losses and risks during cattle movements were reduced through rigorous rejection of animals which did not meet specifications and through the establishment and improvement of quarantine stations and holding grounds. Nonetheless, a number of weak animals got through to the distribution areas. The inferior quality of breeding cattle is one of the reasons for the late maturity of heifers, which in turn causes late pregnancy, low calving rates and, eventually, delays in loan repayments.
Cattle Distribution. The project, through the credit-in-kind system, facilitated the distribution of 50 773 cattle (12.8% more than the appraisal target of 45 000) to 46 572 farmers in five provinces of Sumatera. High mortality rates blighted cattle distribution in the early years. Most of the distribution sites were upland farming areas, and some of them had poor soil conditions. Adequate soil nutritive status is important to avoid high mortalities linked to soil deficiency.
Credit-in-Kind and Offspring Redistribution. The credit-in-kind system enabled the poor to acquire breeding cattle-cum-draught animal on very favourable terms, and this accounted for the widespread interest and participation in the project. Redistribution of offspring began in 1986. By June 1994, some 46 183 offspring distributed under the project had been returned as in-kind repayments. This represents 47.9 % of the maximum number of offspring (96 467) farmers were expected to return to the project within the maturity period. Factors explaining the low repayment performance include the distribution of poor quality heifers to beneficiaries, the selection of project sites with unfavourable agro-ecological conditions, and poor animal husbandry practiced by the beneficiaries. Loan processing and documentation continued to be a problem area. The attempt to monetize credit-in-kind also created unnecessary complexities.
Credit risks, that is the likelihood of farmers not being able to pay back their loans, arise mainly from cattle risks which themselves result from the forced slaughter or unforeseen death of the cattle not due to negligence or deliberate action of the concerned cattleholder, but rather due to infertility, contagious diseases, accidents, and the like. The procedures for replacement of cattle losses due to these causes were found to be cumbersome and highly centralized.
Jembrana Cattle Disease Research. High-quality work was evidenced in research results. Fully equipped and operational, the Bali Cattle Disease Investigation Unit (BCDIU) in Denpasar determined that the disease is caused by a virus, but it needed further funding support to develop a cheaper vaccine. Continuation of the research activities was made possible through the financing of the second phase of the project. However, the Evaluation Mission questions the validity of financing this type of research through a loan for a development project.
Forage Seed Development. In the procurement areas, the forage seed development scheme worked well in the initial years, but the demand for forage legume seeds declined in latter years, due to which the prospects for the programme dimmed. A salient feature of the scheme was savings mobilization among the participants. This was a practical way of educating village people on the use of bank services. In the distribution areas, the forage component was poorly designed from the outset. It was only towards the end of the project that mixed farming systems were promoted, aimed at improving the sustainability of the dominant cropping component, while securing forage for livestock.
Financial Performance. Counterpart funds in the first phase were not disbursed according to the SAR schedule, due mainly to constraints on the government's budget and rigid budgetary procedures. At project closing, the government's contribution had reached 65% of the level expected at appraisal and 18% of total expenditures. Delays in start-up and inadequate GOI funding also resulted in a slight delay in the use of the IFAD loan, but this was corrected by the end of the second year, since then, loan disbursements have generally been on schedule. A computer based financial accounting system developed by the PMO has greatly assisted in establishing a high standard of financial recording and reporting.
Compliance with Covenants. All supervision missions have reported that the covenants set in the Loan Agreement were met, although audit reports were regularly submitted late.
The Role of the Cooperating Institution and IFAD. The project was intensively supervised by IBRD (on average one supervision mission every 4.8 months). This was in response to the identification of this project as a high risk project. The presence of the country office of the World Bank in Jakarta played an important role in this process but the actual presence of IFAD staff in the supervision missions was very limited.
Strengthening of Livestock Services. The project organization successfully achieved a high level of effectiveness. Capacity was strengthened during implementation. Organized into a three-tiered structure, the project organization resembled a miniature model of a development agency. The organizational structure was highly conducive to the implementation of a project on this scale. At the helm was the PMO with comprehensive management functions. At the provincial level, a PMU was set up in each distribution province under the technical and operational guidance of the Project Director to implement all project activities. At the field level SATGAS teams organized project and credit activities, provided extension and animal health services to project beneficiaries, and acted as an effective reporting channel to project management. The Transmigration Department recognized the superior institutional framework established by the project with respect to cattle transfer programmes and proposed passing greater responsibility to the PMO for this function. This high level of performance was maintained throughout the follow-up project. The farmers' groups, created with the assistance of SATGAS staff, are also an achievement. However, these groups need to be revitalized and given a permanent function if they are to be sustainable.
Training. IFAD's funds were reallocated, from unused civil work expenditures to staff training overseas and GOI's funds were used primarily for SATGAS, key farmers' training, and for the training of enumerators for Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) survey work. At PMO and PMU level, staff members received courses in management, project organization, M&E and problem analysis, both in Indonesia and abroad. SATGAS and key farmers received extensive training. In total IDR 344.1 million was used for training out of which IFAD financed IDR 249 million.
The weakness of the livestock extension services in the project areas, recognized at appraisal, has diminished and extension has been strengthened. The question of the sustainability of field support services developed under SCDP I was therefore negated by the implementation of SCDP II.
Monitoring and Evaluation System
Management Information System (MIS). The MIS has been a key factor in assuring the project's capacity to meet physical and financial targets. A comprehensive, computer-based system provided management with necessary information for decision-making. Measuring physical achievements and credit repayment was overemphasized. The system still lacks socio-economic indicators. The practice of deleting a farmer from the system, once his/her credit has been repaid, defeats the purposes of follow-up and post-project evaluations.
Socio-Economic Impact Evaluation. The monitoring group of the PMO comprised three to four consultants plus a team leader and short-term assistance from the technical advisor who would visit the project once or twice yearly, mainly to assess project impact. Surveys were often overdesigned and underanalysed. They did give important data on the use of cattle but the integration of this information into the management's decision-making process was never achieved.
Animal Performance. The calving rates of cattle distributed under this project are not significantly different from those in the procurement areas. However, the mortality rates are lower in the distribution areas. Project data reveal that of the 107 distribution sites, 55 (51.4%) had lower than 50% calving rates, and 25 sites (23.4%) had calving rates of 60% and higher.
Impact in Distribution Areas. The principal project benefits to the farmer are derived from incremental food crop production generated by ploughing. The project's socio-economic studies of 1988 and 1989 reveal, among other things, that the use of cattle has allowed an average increase in the cultivated area of 0.5 to 0.7 ha per farm. The studies also indicate that farmers who plough actually spend less time than non-ploughing farmers on development and cultivation of their uncleared parcels of land. Survey data indicate that the extra income from crop and livestock sales is smaller than the extra income which non-ploughing farmers obtain from off-farm work; nonetheless, ploughing farmers are able to achieve better food security and food intake levels.
After repayment of the first two calves, further offspring serve as an additional source of income. In the use of these offspring, three categories of beneficiaries can be distinguished:
(a) those who use the income earned to diversify their activities, expand their landholdings, purchase goats or chickens, or establish a food stall; for these people, receiving the cow has been a catalyst enabling them to improve their economic situation considerably;
(b) those who regard the cow as a form of savings for the future; they use the income to meet daily needs and rarely, if ever, use the income in developing other activities; and
(c) those who sell their original cow to finance emergency needs such as paying for health care, to finance improvements to the house, or to make a trip back to Java.
Project beneficiaries revealed that significant improvements in their living standards resulted from their involvement in the project. They expressed these improvements in their standard of living as being exemplified by the ability of families to visit their place of origin, meet educational expenses, and make worthwhile improvements to their homes, all of which contribute greatly towards improving social status.
Impact in Procurement Areas. The project's socio-economic study estimates that farmers receive 30-40% of the contract price received by main contractors, and the remainder is distributed between collectors and traders. Collectors and traders do not appear to be making excessive profits, given the costs and risks of supplying cattle to the distribution areas.
Women. Field discussions by the mission revealed that many women were clearly involved in the regular care of the cow but saw their role as assisting, rather than managing. When extra labour was required for collecting fodder, where the children were old enough, they were more likely than the wives to be called upon to help.
Environmental Impact. Following the movement of the cattle, there are a number of stages of interaction with the environment of which the following is a non-exhaustive list of the risks and benefits involved, notably:
(a) the impact of grazing patterns on soil erosion; at appraisal it was argued that existing grazing patterns lead to soil erosion and fertility decline in South Sulawesi, Nusa Tenggara Barat (NTB) and Nusa Tenggara Timur (NTT) and that this would diminish with the procurement of cattle from those areas; the mission found no evidence that this had actually occurred.
(b) cattle faeces and urine pose the greatest danger for the environment during transshipment when very large numbers of animals are brought onto the holding grounds and quarantine stations; although the situation of effluent disposal from these sites has greatly improved, some sites are still not equipped with septic tanks, while other sites still require upgrading.
(c) greening of the land areas with fodder trees or forage counteracted any potential ecological damage caused by the felling of tropical forests for land settlement; this is clearly a positive contribution of the project;
(d) regulations regarding the placing of stables were not always followed; the mission was frequently confronted with a situation in which stables were built too close to a well, which could have adverse effects on family health;
(e) the use of manure, collected at handling facilities does benefit some farmers, but this should be more actively promoted; almost all farmers who received cattle apply the manure to their land; and
(f) ploughing carries the risk of intensifying the use of land and thereby increasing the risk of exhausting soil fertility; in order to compensate the soil for fertility depletion, farmers should be taught to use fertilizers in recommended dosages.
Research into Jembrana (Cattle) Disease. Evidence was obtained that Jembrana Disease is caused by a virus belonging to the family Retroviridae. Although much progress had been achieved, additional finance from the IFAD follow-up project was needed to further the research done to date, and even at the end of the second phase, more financing is still needed, indicating the difficulty of including a research activity without a clear time-horizon in a development project with a five-to-seven-year implementation period.
Economic Rate of Return. Calculations based on recent herd parameters suggest an economic rate of return on the project 16.2%.
Acquisition of Draught Animals. The project enabled the poor to acquire breeding cattle-cum-draught animals without imposing on them the burden of generating substantial cash incomes for the repayment of loans. This accounted for the widespread interest and participation of beneficiaries in the project. The project also served as a model for an extended follow-up project, which IBRD was then interested in cofinancing. Availability of cattle led to the opening up of more land to agricultural production. The area of land cultivated by farmers generally increased on average by 0.25 ha with the use of cattle for ploughing. As a result, household earnings from agricultural production increased for most of the beneficiaries.
Factors Influencing Project Performance. One of the factors contributing to the project's success was the high level of government support for the project. This was possible because the project's objectives dovetailed with those of the government for the development of transmigration areas. Most of the project directors have proven to be capable managers. Theirs' was a centralized management approach buttressed by their ability to sympathize with project staff and to appreciate their hard work and labour. Most of the project sites selected for cattle distribution were transmigration areas, food crop production from which was constrained by the lack of draught animals. There were project sites, however, with harsh agro-ecological conditions and the cattle in these areas generally showed poor health and low calving performance. During the project period, local prices of cattle steadily increased, thus giving beneficiaries brighter hopes for future cattle sales and continuing inspiration to care for their cattle.
Project management was able to delineate early in sufficient time the best ways of organizing the project. The project made it possible for the weaknesses of DGLS, recognized at appraisal, to diminish and for its extension capacity to be strengthened. DGLS, a well-knit organization, was established to operationalize a credit-in-kind system rooted in a tradition that continues to be socially acceptable and widely practised. MIS turned out to be the right tool for management to control nation-wide operations. Adaptation of MIS to the district level (SIMKAB) and provincial level (SIMPRO) is still in its infancy and needs considerable attention before these would be institutionalized. The project underscored the importance of improving the quality of project staff and key farmers by organizing training courses for them. Discipline in the organization was reinforced by an above normal honorarium paid by the project and by adequate provision having been made for housing, travel, vehicles, equipment and training - all of which contributed to high morale among project staff and their willingness to handle difficult situations and to produce good results.
Project support for civil works contributed to a great extent in minimizing the risks that, at appraisal, were feared to be serious. Although delays in the start-up of Phase I and the inadequacy of GOI funding resulted in a slight delay in the use of the IFAD loan, this was corrected by the end of the second year, from which time loan disbursements were largely on schedule. The PMO developed a computer-based financial accounting system which has greatly assisted in establishing a high standard of financial recording and reporting. Project support for research has also enabled local scientists to identify the virus that causes the Jembrana cattle disease and to devise a strategy for its control.
Sustainability. Six years after project closing, it has been clearly proved that DGLS can operate the credit herd as a self-perpetuating, revolving commodity credit facility. In the long term, DGLS should devote more efforts and resources towards creating and maintaining a herd of high quality breeders, and to entrust the redistribution of offspring to institutions operating as "credit intermediaries" at the village level (e.g village cooperatives, NGOs, rural banks, or even farmers' groups). This course of action would benefit from a decentralized organizational set up. In addition, sharing of the proceeds from the sale of culled bulls should be restructured to favour to a greater extent the provincial livestock services.
Lessons Learnt. It appears that on many occasions lessons learnt during the first phase provided only part of the picture and with ongoing experience under the second phase, these lessons had to be reconsidered. Ideally, when experience is gained through the implementation of a project, lessons learnt from this have to be analyzed in the light of the experience of other projects and of the general body of knowledge that exists about the technical, economic and social content of similar situations. Hence, collaboration with local or national research institutes could be envisaged. When a lesson emerges from an evaluation, a review or a survey, there is a tendency to translate this lesson directly into a particular recommendation. This is justified in the case of an ongoing project, where management needs guidance for the improvement of project implementation. However, in the longer term, it is more interesting for governments and development agencies to supplement existing information and to develop models with wider replication potential, using a holistic approach.
Agricultural Diversification and People's Irrigation Project in the North (1994)
Project design and objectives
Country context. During the past three decades, Thailand has enjoyed a consistently high rate of economic growth which has pushed it into the group of middle income developing countries, with a per capita GDP in 1991 of USD 1 650. However, the agricultural sector has been contributing a steadily decreasing proportion of the GDP, going from 32% in 1965 to 16% in 1986 to 13% in 1991, though it still accounts for around 30% of total exports by value. In terms of labour employment, agriculture accounted for 60% of the total labour force in 1992 compared with 75% in 1986. In spite of this relative trend, agriculture continues to be the basis of livelihood for the majority of the population and to play a very important role in the Thai economy.
Poverty incidence in Thailand has diminished steadily over the last decades, from 60% in the 1960s to 18% in 1990. While diminishing overall, however, it is increasingly localized in rural areas and especially in the agricultural sector. Farmers are the lowest income group, with 22% below the poverty line (reaching 29% in the North East). Income disparities are also significant within the rural population, with the lowest 40% of farmers in each region earning less as a group than the highest 5%.
The project is located in Thailand's Northern Region, and project activities were concentrated on the upper north, which was a priority area also for the government Poverty Alleviation Program. The SAR states that about 64% of the population in this area lived in absolute poverty, defined as a per capita annual income of less than USD 148.
The Agricultural Development and People's Irrigation Project in the North (ADPIP) is to establish a programme for technical and institutional strengthening of People's Irrigation Associations (PIA) systems and to promote inter-PIA cooperation for Operation and Maintenance (O&M) of subproject irrigation systems. It is to increase the income and improve the well-being of the poorest segments of the rural population through improved production efficiency and agricultural diversification. An important element is the beneficiary participation in the planning, financing, execution and O&M of the proposed irrigation improvement works. The government is expected to preserve the independence and autonomy of the PIAs due to their importance for strength and stability of rural production in the Northern Region.
The project, with a total investment of USD 18.3 million, is to finance the first phase of a long-term programme which would improve irrigation for about 6 000 ha through the construction of small dams, and the improvement of some existing PIA weirs and canal systems. The principal components are: (i) Irrigation subprojects (USD 11.3 m), comprising construction and improvement of small irrigation systems and establishment of additional Mobile Campaign Units (MCUs); (ii) Pioneer Watershed Component (USD 1.1 m) where the project is to develop an integrated whole basin approach; and (iii) Institutional development and technical support (USD 3.1 m).
Project financing came from an IFAD loan of USD 10.0 million, a loan from the OPEC Fund (USD 3 million), and from a government contribution of approximately USD 5.3 million (of which USD 2.3 million was the estimated in-kind beneficiary contribution).
The project was considered a first-phase pilot operation in an effort to establish long-term assistance to PIAs. Lessons learned from previous IFAD financing in Thailand had pointed out the need to link project activities to existing farmer groups. It was assumed that by focusing the project on PIAs, an indigenous form of efficient grassroots farmer organization would be strengthened. RID would be able to effectively collaborate with PIAs, and that PIAs would be able to preserve their autonomy and efficiency with project intervention. These were, however, cited as project risks in the SAR.
Decentralization of project management and close collaboration between several different Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MOAC) departments were key elements of project design, and it was assumed, in spite of a highly centralized system of government administration, that this system of project management could work. However, this was also cited as a project risk in the SAR.
The investments in dams, weirs and canal improvements would, as mentioned above, secure the water supply to irrigated areas. By increasing production and thereby raising income, it was assumed that there would be a decrease in cultivation of upland areas by irrigated farmers. This was considered an unquantified benefit of the project.
Reprogramming. At appraisal, it was agreed that the cost of construction would not exceed "about USD 2 000" per irrigated hectare. However, during the initial stage of implementation the feasibility studies carried out showed that this condition had to be modified due to significant cost increases. In 1989 it was thus agreed to consider an average figure of USD 2 850 per ha to be acceptable within the existing language of the Loan Agreement. It was decided to concentrate on the five least expensive subprojects and stop further exploratory work on the more expensive subprojects. The change from the 13 subproject areas of the original plan to only five which were actually implemented, substantially reduced the total area irrigated by the project.
This cost increase was also reflected in a reallocation of the IFAD loan proceeds among the financial categories in 1992, mainly in favour of dam construction costs. Project implementation was delayed by about two years due to shortage of counterpart funds, shortage of construction materials such as cement and steel and escalation of construction costs. As a result of this delay in implementation, the project received a one-year extension of the loan closing date to 31 December 1994.
Overall, ADPIP can be qualified as a successful project and there is no doubt of the project's popularity with the beneficiaries, technical (if not financial) soundness, and reasonable level of management. PIAs and farmers are clearly satisfied with these developments, as well as with the formalization of the PIA structures. Data on changes in yields of the most important crops are incomplete and sometimes contradictory, but there seems to be a modest increase in yields for most of the crops. It was estimated that total household income of irrigation beneficiaries would increase by 26%. However, the degree accorded to this overall project success depends on how one chooses to read and interpret the project's original objectives and goals.
The question that arises in ADPIP regards the existence of two alternative views of the basic nature of the project. Is it a people-centred, participatory project mainly intent on working with PIAs to improve their existing irrigation systems and supplying them with training and support as well as dry season water, or is it an infrastructure development project whose goal is to build high quality dams at a reasonable price? Is the main project objective concerned with the concept of grassroots human development, or rather with the successful completion of large engineering works? The answer to these questions apparently depends on who is being asked. According to IFAD, the emphasis is on the first, while according to the Royal Irrigation Department, the principal implementing agency, it would rather be on the second. As will be seen below, this has certain implications when assessing the degree of project success.
Irrigation. The major development objective of ADPIP was to establish a programme for technical and institutional strengthening of PIAs and their irrigation systems. In pursuing this goal, a contrast of methods and approaches emerged between IFAD on the one hand and the World Bank and RTG on the other. What began as a people-centred, institution-building, small-scale irrigation and crop production project gradually became a project which would spend nearly 80% of available funds on large engineering works in the form of medium-sized dams aimed at ensuring dry season water availability to PIAs.
The dam construction activity has been very successful, in spite of spiralling costs (from USD 2 000/ha to USD 3 620/ha), shrinking area of coverage (from 6 000 ha to 3 876) and number of beneficiaries (from 8 650 households to 4 174). At the time of the evaluation, three of the five subprojects included in the project, Mae Kham Pong, Mae Phrik and Huai Dua, were complete, and the first two had been operational since 1992. At Huai Dua, reservoir filling was awaiting clearance from Royal Forestry Department (RFD) for submergence. Of the remaining two dams, Mae Kon was 90% complete and Mae Laeng Luang nearly 60%. Weir replacement and weir and canal improvement have been completed as planned. Supervision missions have indicated satisfaction with the performance of the engineering companies contracted for execution of the irrigation investment works, especially in terms of quality of the work done.
Subprojects were to be implemented by RID and the concerned PIAs as a unit. Local PIA leaders and farmers were to be consulted and to agree jointly to undertake their subproject, to request it officially and to be directly involved in implementation, as well as contributing 20% of capital costs in kind (labour) or in cash. It was observed that RID has not followed this approach during implementation. Although PIAs were involved from the beginning, this involvement was limited mainly to the formation of registered groups and the establishment of agreements for the management of water after dam completion. Very little PIA involvement appears to have taken place during construction of the dams and concrete weirs. Almost no PIA contribution to capital costs in any form was found to have taken place, with limited labour contributions being the only exception.
The key stumbling block of many dam projects, the water distribution and management system, is already in place through the PIA system, and this is the key factor which makes ADPIP such a promising project. The capacity to divide and keep track of water, to prevent and punish theft or abuse, to carry out accurate accounting of water credit and debit, to share in a way that allows all users to maintain a reasonable agricultural calendar, etc., are all present and applicable to the new system in much the same form as to the old.
In the view of the interviewed farmers, the project is very positive, the expected benefits are clear, the costs to them are low and there are virtually no risks. Production (and incomes) will surely rise as dry season water becomes available, and crop diversification for the dry season cultivation is being encouraged by the Department of Agricultural Extension (DOAE).
Thus by RID criteria the project is very successful. The availability of dry season water will improve irrigated farmers' living conditions and raise area agricultural production. From the point of view of the "people-centred" project, the project has been successful in terms of PIA strengthening and institutional development despite an approach quite different from that prescribed in the SAR. The very fact of formalizing the PIAs and organizing them into Inter-PIA Committees has apparently given significantly greater importance to the existing associations in the eyes of their members, strengthening cohesion and effectiveness.
However, the question of the PIA "sense of ownership" of project engineering works remains uncertain. This was to be given to PIAs through their involvement in preparation and in investment costs through labour contribution, and especially through the handover of complete responsibility for O&M of all irrigation works following completion, including dams. Instead, there was no PIA participation in subproject selection and design, very little PIA contribution to construction, and RID has stated its intention of keeping O&M of large project works under its own control.
ADPIP was intended apply participatory development through the use of PIAs. However, this focus on people shrank as the project progressed towards implementation, to the point of becoming only a minor aspect of an infrastructure project whose major objective was dam construction. While people's participation cannot be said to have been a major aspect of the dam construction activity, the institutional development component as applied to the PIAs appears to have been conducted with extensive interaction between the project implementation staff and the leaders and members of the PIAs. The very acceptance of the indigenous water management system as the basis for water management after dam construction is in itself a form of involvement of beneficiaries. Even this, however, is not evidence of genuine people's participation, which implies beneficiaries having a decisive role in project selection, design, implementation and evaluation. The relationship here still tends to be one of donor and passive recipient rather than facilitator and activist farmer groups. More time will be necessary before real participatory development has a chance to be tried with PIAs in the upper North.
Thus it would appear that when taking PIA support and institutional development as the first priority for ADPIP, success is tempered by the loss of opportunities for further strengthening of PIAs. While it was clear that RID worked hard at supporting PIAs, the overall non-interventionist intention of the project irrigation component was not being effectively applied by RID. Dam and concrete weir construction was an engineering activity isolated from the control or participation of PIAs, and there was never any clear intention on the part of RID to involve PIAs in the planning or execution of these interventions. O&M of weirs and canals will apparently be partly shared with PIAs, but dam O&M is to be exclusively the responsibility of RID, as it always has been in previous projects of this scale. In addition, a precedent was meant to be set by this project for the handover of irrigation works to water-users' associations on future projects, but this was not done. Thus the project set rather a negative precedent which seems to indicate that in spite of donor insistence, RID is not yet ready to transfer control of its irrigation works to private users.
Inter-PIA Committees have been set up in all the subproject basins under the guidance of the MCUs, and they are reportedly meeting regularly in anticipation of project dam operation. Reactions from both leaders and members of these new organizations were unanimously positive regarding their usefulness and their potential effectiveness.
Under the project, the system of MCUs would be strengthened. These multidisciplinary teams would link PIAs/farmers, RID and other agencies, and provide technical assistance and guidance to PIAs. However, although the SAR called for six new MCUs to be set up, as well as the inclusion of DOAE and RFD staff in all MCUs, not one new MCU was set up under the project, nor has it been possible to include other agencies in these RID units (although collaboration between MCU staff and local staff of the agencies has reportedly increased). The result is that project PIAs are receiving much less support and assistance than foreseen at appraisal.
Sustainability of irrigation interventions will depend mainly on the availability of RID funds to continue O&M of larger project works and continued interaction of PIAs in sharing reservoir water. The irrigation construction part of the project has a high degree of replicability in the context of existing PIA systems in northern Thailand. The degree of replicability of the PIA model of farmer-built and managed irrigation systems is more questionable, but some aspects of PIA organization could no doubt be applied irrigation schemes were they do not exist.
Crop diversification. This component fits in well with both existing DOAE activities and current farmer practice: when dry season water is available, farmers seek the most profitable crop to plant. In the wet season, the vast majority still plant exclusively rice in the lowlands, but on hillsides they are willing to grow anything which will increase their incomes, and are therefore quite open to diversification as it may be encouraged by the project. The confusion and unreliability of the figures available on crops and yields makes it difficult to judge the extent of diversification, but it was clear that farmers will respond more readily to market indications than to research results in their choices. Either way, dry season cropping will continue to move toward greater diversification according to comparative advantage, and DOAE seems ready to support farmers in their search for the most advantageous crops.
The Pioneer Watershed Component was to be designed following a "whole basin approach" which would integrate activities in watershed forest areas, under exclusive jurisdiction of RFD, with activities in the irrigated valleys which were being entirely managed by RID. RFD was given principal responsibility for implementing the Pioneer Watershed Component. Clear guidelines were set out in the SAR for the interagency coordination. It was assumed that RFD and RID had the ability to work together to carrying out a unified intervention in the whole river basin. RFD was to be the lead implementing agency, but the Department of Land Development (DLD) was to take the lead in planning the component because of its expertise in land use planning. It was also indicated that RFD staff were to help PIA leaders tackle watershed management issues. This participation never took place to any significant degree, and the positive link was never established.
RFD kept the watershed component very much in its own hands, operating it in near isolation, directly out of Bangkok under its own budget line from the loan. Planning of the component was given to the Project Consultant who presented a component that was far too costly. In the end, RFD implemented only the part of the project which fit in most easily with its previous experience: reforestation with teak along with the building of forest Field Stations within the watershed (1 000 ha). Some other soil and water conservation techniques and planting of fruit trees on sloping land was encouraged. There was no integration of valley-dwellers into the watershed management activities, and no coordination between them and the hill-dwellers, neither were PIAs involved. The participatory, people-oriented spirit of the design was lost during implementation. Unfortunately, the Mae Lai Watershed represents a situation that is almost unique in the Northern Region, wherefore few lessons from Mae Lai will be applicable to other ADPIP subproject watersheds.
Institutional Strengthening. Subproject preparation as well as financing related studies and pilot projects by the consultant engineers was part of the institutional development component. The work was reportedly carried out skilfully by the Project Consultant, but it remains unclear why this activity was considered to be part of the project's institutional development component. The only institution to derive a clear benefit from this part of the loan was the Project Consultant.
Training progressed well and both farmers and officials expressed their satisfaction with the training they received. To date, the training programme has never undergone an evaluation, and the MTE recommended that such an evaluation be carried out.
The project was intended to finance costs of studies, pilot projects and other related research. In close collaboration with the International Irrigation Management Institute (IIMI), studies were to establish an action-research programme to monitor the workings of the PIAs with reference to their enlarged role under the project. However, no contact was established with IIMI and an interesting opportunity for international collaboration in monitoring the workings of the PIAs was therefore lost. Only by 1993 were two studies finalized and judged satisfactory by the CI, one on cash crop development and one on women.
A critical aspect of the project, is the institutional support and development of the PIAs in the context of newly secure wet and dry season irrigation water supplies resulting from the project. The project has also been successful in strengthening the independent PIAs and in promoting inter-PIA cooperation. But the question of the PIA "sense of ownership" of project engineering works remains uncertain. Support will terminate just at the time when the project activity of support and assistance to the PIAs would become most important, i.e., when the dam construction is finished and water begins to arrive. Thus, ironically, the project ends at the moment when IFAD's catalytic role in encouraging RTG/PIA collaboration and strengthening PIA performance should become most important, and the further support to PIAs is left in the hands of a government department (RID) which has often been more interested in engineering than human aspects of water distribution.
The project has served to develop stronger links between RID and PIAs, this appears to be having a beneficial and invigorating effect on these organizations, in spite of SAR predictions to the contrary. PIAs have been quick to adapt to changing circumstances. The attention which they have received from the project, as focal points for all project intervention and information regarding new reservoir facilities and agricultural diversification, has given them a new authority in the eyes of their members and other villagers.
Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E). Although some attempts were made to formalize the M&E of the project, none of the proposals were finalized and no separate M&E unit was ever set up as foreseen in the SAR. This meant that the responsibility for project M&E remained with the Office of Agricultural Economics (OAE) in RID, which already had responsibility for M&E of other projects. In spite of hard work on the part of the responsible staff, this situation has significantly handicapped project M&E activities.
Progress reports were furnished throughout the project implementation period, although with occasional delays. To improve this situation, the CI proposed some simplifications in the requirements and standardization in reporting tables. Although this proposal resulted in a more regular stream of progress reports, simplifying the requirements for reporting may have had an adverse effect on the quality of the information provided to the CI and IFAD.
The OAE prepared baseline studies for the subproject areas. The Supervision Mission (SM) judged these to be insufficient and requested OAE to provide information on the methodology used for the surveys. It was also concerned that pre-project irrigation areas may have been overestimated and with-project area underestimated. There is no evidence that these reports were resubmitted and some of the defects identified at the time are also found in the incremental benefit studies and the evaluations of subproject areas that were subsequently produced.
As a follow-up on the baseline studies, further studies were carried out by OAE on cash crop income and on farm income. Evaluation reports for each completed subproject are were produced by the OAE. The reports are not always mutually consistent and conclusions are based on a string of assumptions that are not always realistic. This points to a lack of fieldwork, and an overdependence on secondary and tertiary data.
No provision was made for beneficiary participation in project evaluation exercises. The household surveys are not geared to subjective assessments of project activities on the part of beneficiaries, nor has any systematic analysis of farmer perceptions of and attitudes toward ADPIP activities been undertaken. Furthermore, the evaluation reports do not provide an analysis of who benefitted or whether benefits reach the target group. However, it should be mentioned that none of this was requested in the SAR nor by the CI or IFAD.
RID should request OAE to continue monitoring of the subproject areas even after the loan is closed and the project ends because project benefits only begin to accrue after the termination of construction, and thus after project closing. In monitoring benefits from the project, more attention should be paid to off-farm income which is also important in understanding the opportunity cost of the extra labour needed for double or triple cropping made possible by project-supplied dry season water.
No targeting criteria were incorporated into project activities. Farmers in the project area were assumed to be generally poorer than the national average, and the criteria used to select subprojects to be financed were based almost entirely on technical issues. The particular watershed was selected because of technical criteria relating to degree of degradation and extent of illegal logging. Presently, there is very little apparent poverty in the subproject areas. For targeting of the poor IFAD should incorporate targeting mechanisms into its projects which are able to adjust with changing poverty distribution in the project area during the life of the project.
The issue of socio-economic differentiation was not touched upon during project preparation and appraisal. As the irrigation project was designed, direct benefits accrue only to members of the PIAs, and to a small extent to the families of labourers hired locally by the contractors for dam construction. The watershed component also produced direct benefits almost exclusively for the local labourers hired for reforestation. Some benefits to the general agricultural population can be expected from increased extension activities and encouragement of diversified agriculture.
The MTE mission's limited exploration of the issue in the field suggested that while there is an evident general situation of well-being and prosperity in all the project areas, a significant amount of differentiation exists. There is a sizable landless population in some of the subproject areas, which was reported as high as 20-30% by some village chiefs. These landless families generally either rent land (the most common case) or work as agricultural labourers on others' land or as wage labourers in town. This last group, apparently includes the poorest families in the village, and these are also the ones which are not involved in the PIA system and are therefore excluded from direct project benefits. The clearest indirect benefit should be an increase in dry season agricultural labour opportunities, which the SAR estimated at 18 600 man-months per year. However, in general, the improvements which the project irrigation and agricultural development will bring to landowning families will largely leave these families behind.
The families which rent paddy land apparently take part in the PIAs in which the land they rent is located. In cases encountered by the mission, these landless farmers were involved in most of their PIAs' activities, however, they do not participate in the election of PIA leaders nor the establishment of rules and regulations. This group would clearly be among the direct beneficiaries of the project. In one way, these farmers will increase their incomes even more from the dams than others: rent is based on rice production in most cases (usually equivalent to half the rice harvest), but does not change if the tenant manages to grow additional crops in the dry season. The new dry season irrigated production will be kept entirely by the tenant.
None of the project activities were specifically targeted at women, in spite of the equal sharing of roles and responsibilities in the house, and the active involvement of women in project activities. It is recommended that future IFAD projects should attempt to build in and monitor mechanisms for reaching women more directly and on a more equal footing with men. When project design specifies such things as people's participation and integration of women into project activities, specific modalities and monitoring mechanisms and indicators need to be included in the implementation guidelines in the appraisal report.
A Central Coordinating Committee (CCC) was set up under the Office of the Permanent Secretary and chaired by the Deputy Permanent Secretary, which was to be responsible for overall policy guidance for the project, coordination between the ten MOAC departments and agencies involved in implementation and supervision of project progress. The Office of Agricultural Economics (OAE) supplies secretariat support to the CCC. This committee has met regularly and meetings have been well-attended. The CCC has been instrumental in the coordination of project activities between the agencies. The main reason for its effectiveness has been the active involvement of the Deputy Permanent Secretary. Occasional problems persisted and the opinion is shared by many of those directly involved that the number of agencies may have been too high. Future projects may wish to concentrate on fewer departments to avoid this difficulty.
The SAR gave overall responsibility for project implementation to the MOAC through the CCC, while RID was to be the lead agency for construction of reservoirs and improvements to PIA systems. During design it had been agreed that it was preferable for RID not to assume coordinating responsibilities. In spite of this, the increasing specialization of the project as an irrigation construction project and the concentration of funds in this department led to a situation where RID did in fact take on the role of coordinating agency. This also included a supervisory role in the implementation of the Pioneer Watershed Component, although main responsibility for this activity was vested in RFD.
The Cooperating Institution (CI) for this project has been the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD - referred to in this report as the World Bank, or WB). The CI carried out both pre-appraisal and appraisal of the project and is supervising loan implementation. There have been thirteen supervision missions to the project since inception, including the one which coincided with the MTE. These have taken place at fairly regular intervals and have included an irrigation engineer on ten missions (the same one throughout), an environmentalist or watershed specialist on five, and an IFAD staff member on four (three different people).
In terms of continuity and regularity, the WB did an excellent job of project supervision, particularly concerning the technical aspects of physical implementation of the irrigation component. The frequent presence of environmental management specialists as of April 1991 added a positive input, though it came too late to have significant impact on implementation of the watershed component, which completed disbursement in 1992. The SMs showed flexibility in confronting problem situations, and took a number of decisions relating to implementation. Regarding the institutional side, however, some omissions occurred on the part of SMs.
The role played by the CI on this project also typifies some of the recurring problems which IFAD has encountered when collaborating with the WB or other large international financial institutions. The principal one is that these institutions tend to limit supervision to give insufficient attention to IFAD's specific mandate of poverty alleviation through participatory and sustainable development methodologies. The tendency, is to measure project progress and success only by checking physical completion against expenditure and specification adherence. This has the advantage of encouraging progress monitoring and the relation of expenditure to progress. However, very little consideration is given to such issues as targeting, beneficiary participation, women, organizations, and other human development issues. Even though the major declared aim of this project was to support and assist indigenous farmers' organizations, no social scientist or organizations specialist was included on any of the supervision missions.
To ensure greater IFAD specificity in project implementation, supervision must ensure that project design concepts, in addition to specific components, are implemented at the field level. Greater attention must be paid to monitoring and evaluation, which were unnecessarily weak in this project.
More attention needs to be paid to the qualitative aspects of WB supervision in future, possibly through specification of the specialists to be included on missions or other similar measures at the time of CI selection, and active involvement in defining the TOR for these missions. This would ensure that supervision is sufficiently in-depth to identify problems to be brought to the attention of project management or of IFAD.
In dealing with both the government and the CI, there is a need to keep a clear emphasis of IFAD's priorities (such as women, participation, poverty, etc.) throughout implementation, to avoid having them diluted or forgotten following appraisal.
More care must be taken in selecting the proper institution for project preparation. In this case, the preparation of the watershed component was done by a consulting company, who had neither experience nor expertise in this field.
In attempting to improve inter-agency collaboration and efficient project implementation, the importance of decentralization of control over project management to regional and local project staff is difficult to overemphasize.
The mission recommends that Mae Lai continue to be treated as pilot area and that efforts be made to develop mechanisms for combining valley and hillside activities such that a single agency or project entity can work in both areas simultaneously. This is essential if the migrating encroachers from the valley are to be actively involved in watershed protection, rehabilitation and conservation. Models for such a system should possibly be sought in the Northeast Region.
Existing supervision must ensure that project design concepts, in addition to specific components, are implemented at the field level. Greater attention must be paid to monitoring and evaluation, which were unnecessarily weak in this project.
RTG should request OAE to continue monitoring the subproject areas even after the loan is closed and the project ends. This is particularly important in the case of ADPIP because project benefits of this type of project only begin to accrue after the termination of construction, and thus after project closing.
In monitoring benefits from the project, more attention should be paid to off-farm income, which appears to be more and more important in farm economies as the general Thai economy expands and accelerates. This is also important in understanding the opportunity cost of the extra labour needed for double or triple cropping made possible by project-supplied dry season water.
To date, the extensive project training programme has never undergone an evaluation, and the MTE would recommend that such an evaluation be carried out in the near future to (i) ascertain the effectiveness of the training offered, and (ii) to identify further training needs.
The dramatic cost increases which took place point to the importance of taking the necessary time during project preparation and appraisal to minimize oversights and approximations. In this context, IFAD should avoid putting excessive pressure on the appraisal process for the artificial time limit imposed by the desire to "get the project to the Board" at the earliest possible date.
IFAD has a recurrent problem with the large international financial institutions, in their role as Cooperating Institution, of receiving insufficient consideration of its very particular mandate and development specificity. It is worthwhile and important to give thoughtful consideration to selecting the best possible CI, especially if the project is innovative.
It is important to avoid simplistic approaches to an issue as complicated as beneficiary contribution to capital costs of a capital-intensive construction project. Assuming that large amounts of unskilled, "voluntary" group labour can be easily integrated into this type of activity is risky, and even more so is the assumption that farmers can be convinced to contribute out-of-pocket cash to pay for something like dam construction.
Similarly, it is optimistic to assume that a government department like RID, which has always maintained control over its investments, will be willing to hand over control of dams which cost them several million dollars, to farmers' groups over which they have a very limited control. This kind of attempt, to hand over full responsibility and ownership of project works to the beneficiaries to promote sustainability, should be carried out with smaller-scale investments to start with.
Targeting of the poor should not be assumed to take place from general figures of poverty levels in an entire region. IFAD should incorporate targeting mechanisms into its projects which are able (within limits) to adjust with changing poverty distribution in the project area during the life of the project. In the present case, poverty has hardly been an issue in the beneficiary population, so that most of the project efforts have been directed at helping the better-off members of the community (those with irrigated land) rather than the poorest, and no effort was ever made to look for the poorer PIAs in the region.
When project design specifies such things as people's participation and integration of women into project activities, specific modalities and monitoring mechanisms and indicators need to be included in the implementation guidelines in the appraisal report, just as they are for dam construction. Otherwise the chances of genuine implementation are very slim.
Collaboration between RID and RFD is essential for effective watershed management in situations where it is the farmers from the valley who are encroaching in the watershed, as in the case of the Mae Lai watershed.
In order for teams made up of staff from different agencies to be able to work together well in the field, it is necessary for the concerned agencies to be willing to put this staff entirely at the disposal of the team, including resources and time. Simply adding the obligation to participate in the team to an official's regular duties will not be sufficient for real teamwork, as sought by this project, to take place.
Since ADPIP was drawing to a close, the MTE mission also considered a limited number of possible follow-on IFAD projects in Thailand, using the experience acquired in this project:
(i) IFAD could consider a project which takes up where this project stops, by working with PIAs downstream of recently built RID small to medium-sized storage dams in the poorer valleys of the North. This would mean continuing the work of agricultural diversification, support for institutional strengthening of PIAs and IPIACs, and in particular working with PIAs and RID to develop a mechanism for the transfer of ownership (with or without payment) of these government-built irrigation works to the farmers who use them. Involvement of PIAs in watershed protection and rehabilitation would also be a part of this project. An explicit effort should be made to target the poorest PIAs, as well as trying to involve non-PIA poor farmers in the project activities.
(ii) A second possibility is to undertake a participatory watershed rehabilitation project in the Northeast. Many watersheds there suffer from encroachment similar to that occurring in the Mae Lai area. In these conditions, as would be appropriate in those of Mae Lai, productivity and environmental soundness could both be raised by combining the efforts of populations residing in the same sub-basin, including both those in the watershed forest area and those downstream.
(iii) A third type of project would be participatory hill tribe development in ecologically fragile areas on the northern borders. The project would target poor hill tribes living in Conservation Forest areas and practising shifting cultivation, encouraging them through a long process of group meetings and awareness-building to change their cultivation techniques in favour of ecologically more stable and economically advantageous systems. The project would aim at improving relations between RTG (in particular RFD) and downhill Thai farming communities on the one hand and the hill tribes on the other, reduce opium cultivation and promote forest conservation.
(iv) A final possibility was proposed by the project management and regards the financing of a similar medium-sized dam building project, with one major difference: in the case of the Community Irrigation Development Project (as it would be called), the dams would be built in valleys with no existing distribution systems, and the project would therefore attempt to reproduce the organization and structure of PIAs in areas where they have never existed. In the view of this mission, this is a rather risky proposition, though it is a challenging and interesting one for IFAD to consider. The four proposed dams would irrigate an estimated 15 000 ha in the Northern Region. It would important to determine the level of poverty in the proposed project areas, since the North is no longer a very poor region in Thailand.
Tafilalet and Dades Rural Development Project (PDRT) (2006)
Following the closing of the Tafilalet and Dadès Rural Development Project (PDRT), a completion evaluation mission from the Office of Evaluation of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) visited Morocco from 11 September to 12 October 2005. The evaluation report elaborates upon the major findings of the mission. A final workshop was held in Morocco in February 2006 to discuss the recommendations and prepare the groundwork for the agreement at completion point.
Located in North Africa, Morocco is home to 30.6 million people, 43% of whom live in rural areas. The population growth rate has been declining for the past ten years and currently stands at 1.6% per annum. The infant mortality rate has fallen in the past decade but remains very high at 47.9/1 000 (2004), reaching 56.7/1 000 in rural areas. More than 12 million people, or 42% of the population, are illiterate. During the period 1998-2002, average growth rates for GNP and inflation were 1.67% and 1.75% respectively, compared to averages of 4.06% and 5.14% during the years 1990-1997. Average income per capita is USD 1 310, placing Morocco among the world's low to middle-income countries. According to estimates of the High Commission for Planning of the Government of Morocco, the poverty rate declined from 16.5% in 1994 to 14.2% in 2004 (national average). However, the poverty rate in rural areas increased from 23% to 25%. This relatively high rate of poverty is reflected in a 23.6% stunting rate among children in rural areas.
The PDRT was approved by IFAD's Executive Board on 20 April 1994 and entered into effect on 27 March 1995 as a single project financed by two separate loans (IFAD MA 356 and 357). The loans, provided directly to the implementing agencies, the Regional Authorities for Agricultural Development (ORMVAs) of Tafilalet and of Ouarzazate with a sovereign guarantee, closed in 2004 and 2005 respectively. 2Total project cost was USD 52.5 million, financed by IFAD (USD 22.3 million), the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) (USD 7 million), the OPEC Fund for International Development (USD 5.6 million), the Government of Morocco (contribution of USD 15.8 million) and the beneficiaries (contribution of USD 1.5 million in the form of labour). The Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development (AFESD) was the cooperating institution and responsible for project supervision. The project was implemented by the Tafilalet and Ouarzazate ORMVAs, represented in the field by the agricultural development centres (CMVs). The Ouarzazate ORMVA received funding from Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW) for support to irrigation water users' association (AUEAs), but KfW was not a direct partner of IFAD, IsDB nor OPEC.
The approach followed in this evaluation is in line with the methodology defined by IFAD, which employs three main criteria and a rating system. The criteria are as follows: i) the project's impact on poverty reduction; ii) project performance as measured by relevance of objectives, effectiveness of implementation and efficiency of achievements; and iii) performance of project partners. The mission consulted numerous technical and socioeconomic documents as well as general documentation and scientific publications relating to the project's areas of intervention. During the mission, interviews were conducted with many institutional actors at the central, regional and local levels involved in project oversight and/or implementation, as well as with a sample of beneficiaries in both project regions. The evaluation mission also benefited from the results of a rural survey conducted by OE in August 2005 in both project regions. This survey covered 17 grassroots organisations purposively selected to represent the different types of cooperatives and associations formed or supported by the project and 274 households sampled randomly, including households in and outside the project to better guide the evaluation on impact attribution.
The Tafilalet and Dades Rural Development Project (PDRT) is aligned with the new policy introduced by the Moroccan Government following the structural adjustment programme of 1984, and with IFAD's strategy for Morocco, both of which set a number of priorities. The PDRT was formulated in this context of a shared vision of priorities for agricultural and rural development in May and June 1993, and a preliminary evaluation took place in December 1993. From the outset, the project programme included several complementary components intended to: i) improve agricultural production by means of small and medium-sized waterworks in valleys and oases; ii) improve livestock systems, both intensive (in irrigated zones) and extensive (in pastoral zones); iii) protect natural resources and check degradation; iv) reinforce basic infrastructure and social facilities in rural areas; and v) develop institutions and local organizations.
Covering the contiguous Tafilalet and Dadès regions, the project area is located in southeast Morocco along the southern slopes of the Atlas Mountains and is part of the pre-Saharan region. The project area measures 90 300 km2 (12.7% of the national territory), of which 80 500 km2 is in Tafilalet and 9 800 km2 is in Dadès. In the Tafilalet ORMVA region the PDRT covers the Province of Errachidia and the Bni Tadjit Cercle (an administrative division within the Province of Figuig) and, in the Ouarzazate ORMVA region, the Dadès Valley to the northeast of the Province of Ouarzazate, which is part of the Upper Draa watershed. The climate is continental and arid. Precipitation ranges from 70 mm in the extreme south, at Erfoud, to 290 mm in the extreme north, at Imichil. These climatic conditions preclude the practice of rainfed agriculture and necessitate the use of irrigation.
The rural population in the project area was estimated at 732 000 in 1993, or some 92 420 families. At the time of project formulation, more than half of the farmer and herder families in the project area were estimated to be living below the poverty line (according to World Bank studies), then set at USD 225. The project was to benefit: i) 42 500 small farmers in poor areas in the irrigated sector, with high population density (through improved water and land management); ii) 30 000 inhabitants of isolated mountainous areas (through road works); iii) 14 000 inhabitants of disadvantaged villages (through improved access to drinking water); iv) 7 720 small herders and 120 D'man sheep herders and breeders; v) 1 260 women farmers and 9 600 women and young people (by means of raising of goats and sheep, including D'man sheep, and literacy and other training through the development of outreach centres).
The project implementation period was marked by a difficult economic juncture, particularly in 1998 when GNP grew very slowly (1.67%) compared to the prior period (annual growth of 4.06% in 1990-1997), and by a long succession of dry years that placed important constraints on certain project actions (fallow periods, fodder crops). The adverse effects of drought on the agricultural sector made themselves felt in particular during the period 1998-2000. This, combined with the cumulative effect of emigration by young people, has deprived the area of manpower for maintaining traditional irrigation infrastructure. In addition, the project's start-up coincided with a new phase in the country's political life, characterized by an accelerated political liberalization beginning in the second half of the 1990s. In parallel, the participatory approach emerged as an incontrovertible instrument to ensure locally managed sustainable development. In terms of economic context, new prospects for development are opening up in Tafilalet and Dades, mainly thanks to the promotion of tourism and filmmaking.
No major changes were made to the project design, the general orientation nor to the components. Minor changes were introduced during project implementation in response to practical field issues, donor requirements and recommendations by support missions.
Following a delay in the loan closing date of more than two years, the project's achievement rates are generally good, and in some cases exceed the component targets set. In Tafilalet, seven floodwater perimeters were rehabilitated (9 170 ha), 72 pumping stations were created or rehabilitated, and approximately 55 km of khettaras 3were treated. This corresponds to virtually 100% of the target. In Dades, the achievement rate was 34% for rehabilitation of séguias [irrigation canals]; completion is planned for end-2006. The delay is attributable to the requirement that beneficiaries make good on their financial contribution (2.5%) prior to commencing work. The project created 24 irrigation water users' associations (AUEAs) and 06 federations of AUEAs in Tafilalet and 86 AUEAs in Dades (100% of target); the AUEAs were set up before the work began. In Dades, work to develop infrastructure is close to complete, and has resulted in 16 water supply systems of the 17 projected (the remaining one is now under way), construction of close to 12 km of dikes to protect waterways and rehabilitation of a 15 km stretch of the Toundoute-Iminoulaoune roadway. Since projections overestimated this roadway by 4 km, a balance of close to DH 3.3 million remains under the OPEC loan.
The project created 16 pastoral cooperatives (100% of target), placed 110 200 ha of rangeland in fallow (67% of adjusted target) and planted 4 600 ha of fodder crops (71% of target). Seven herder cooperatives were organized to improve D'man sheep stock in Dades, bringing together 166 herders with 8 140 head of sheep; 98 breeders joined the National Association for Sheep and Goat Raising (ANOC) and 9 169 head were selected (141% of target). In Tafilalet, five new cooperatives for D'man were created and six were strengthened, bringing together 611 herders with 15 095 head of sheep; 66 breeders joined ANOC and 8 296 animals were selected (415% of target). The achievement rate for work to stabilize sand dunes using cross-ruling by palm branches is 444% of the original programme target and 99% of the adjusted target; for the installation of fibre-cement sheeting it is 85%.
In Tafilalet, 29 women's cooperatives were set up (242% of target) for D'man sheep breeding, with 1 330 members having received 2 660 sheep on subsidized credit. In Dades, under the goat milk programme, extension and equipment provided to the Skoura station enabled it to double its production capacity, equipment provided for a cheese dairy enabled processing of 250 l/day and a women's cooperative with 68 members was set up. In Tafilalet, 113 women's centres (CAFs) were equipped compared to the target of 29, and 14 female monitors were trained. In Dades, a women's section was set up within the ORMVAO outreach division, and 13 CAFs were rehabilitated and equipped compared to the target of 4. Actions planned with respect to institution-building for both Offices are generally complete overall (equipping of CMVs, vehicles, computers and training). The number of awareness-raising and training sessions for farmers and women exceeded targets set for both Offices and covered all priority sub-sectors.
Relevance of objectives. The project is aligned with the National Irrigation Programme, the new agricultural policy guidelines favouring bour [rainfed cropping] areas introduced in 1988, the Five-Year Plan for 2000-2004 (assigning priority to mountains, oases and border areas) and the 2020 Rural Development Strategy, the National Date Palm Plan, and the National Rangeland Improvement Plan. The project was also consistent with the poverty reduction strategy adopted by IFAD following a programming mission to Morocco in 1983 4.The project objectives to improve living conditions (providing access to drinking water, building roads to open up isolated areas) are highly relevant in an area with basic infrastructure indicators among the lowest in the country, representing a major handicap for economic and social development and rural poverty reduction.
In view of IFAD's specific mandate, several weaknesses can be identified in terms of overall project formulation: i) the generic description of the target group; ii) the large number of actions to be carried out (equivalent to two or three typical IFAD projects) without any clear identification of synergies and linkages between components or any concrete means of realizing such synergies; iii) the virtually omnipresent role of public institutions, even in non-traditional areas typical of private enterprises); iv) the choice of the rangeland and extensive herding approach, drawn from another IFAD project in the eastern region without the benefit of sufficient experience with implementation; and v) rather optimistic assumptions about the ability of project personnel to adopt a participatory approach from the outset without supplementary donor support and interventions (e.g. budget funding for specialized training).
Effectiveness. Despite the difficulties encountered during implementation and at the ten-year point, the project achieved most of its objectives. Among the strengths identified are the following: i) an increase in yields for particular crops (olives, apples and cereals); ii) structures built to divert floodwater and revive palm plantations (4 000 ha), and in some cases an intensification of cropping and grazing; iii) the khettara treatment programme, which enabled drainwater volumes to be stabilized; iv) improved access to drinking water through household connections in certain communes; v) generally satisfactory results on sheep breed improvements.
Areas of weakness include: i) under the rangeland development component, achievements below target and a low percentage of areas where fallow periods were adhered to (24%); ii) under the goat milk programme, oversized or unused equipment and selected goat production well below target; iii) geographical targeting that was not always well planned and led to dispersion of actions over a large area with little complementarity or synergy. The project's definition of the target group can only be considered imprecise.
Efficiency. Efficiency was examined by comparing unit costs (per ha or per person) with benchmarks set by other similar programmes or interventions in Morocco and the Maghreb. In some cases, costs are compared to benefits. The project posted good performance in some areas and was weaker in others. Among the positive aspects are good performance with respect to irrigation and drinking water, training for women, rangeland improvement, sand dune stabilization and agricultural extension. These positive results were achieved mainly thanks to the technical expertise of personnel from the project and selected enterprises.
Among weaker areas are milk and cheese production under the goat milk programme, treatment of specific khettaras, new land development, certain D'man breed selection efforts and attention to certain technical and economic studies. There are shared elements in these experiences, as follows: i) actions with impaired technical/financial feasibility not fully covered during formulation, and ii) actions that extended beyond the Offices' mandate (selection, product processing, marketing) such that implementing agencies did not enjoy a comparative advantage.
Impact on rural poverty
Due to the lack of specific monitoring and evaluation for the project actions, the evaluation team derived its conclusions through triangulation among several sources such as documentation, the OE quantitative and qualitative rural survey, direct observations, and field discussions.
Through its various components, the project has led to an improvement in material and financial household resources. According to the survey results, project beneficiaries are more likely than the control group to report an improvement (and, conversely, less likely to report a reduction) in income-generating opportunities and the availability of animal feed and water for irrigation (with some exceptions in the case of Tafilalet), which are essential elements in household living conditions. Time not spent on repairing khettaras and carrying water can be applied towards income-generating activities, education and care of the household and its members.
The project has had an impact on human resources, in terms of technical skills, health, management and others. For instance, enrolment rates rose in the commune of Iminoulaoune after the road was built (30% for boys and 2% for girls before the road, compared to 73% and 35% respectively after the road), the school absenteeism rate dropped for girls with the introduction of drinking water supply, health and hygiene improved markedly with drinking water supply, more than 11 000 women acquired know-how in animal and craft production, marketing and microproject management, and more than 8 000 became literate. The project had a significant impact on extension (more in terms of change than in terms of the proportion of the population having benefited). Farmers are better informed, working in partnership with the administration and adopting techniques to improve production.
Social capital. The project's approach to implementation has made it possible to strengthen: i) the remarkable, if still incipient, development of associations and cooperatives, favouring participation and ownership of local development by beneficiaries and their representative institutions; ii) inter-organizational solidarity and exchanges; iii) the development of professional organizations partnering with the administration for local development (the decisive role of pastoral cooperatives in barley distribution during dry years); iv) the creation of a forum for dialogue and voicing of grievances, competition for farmers and herders, and emancipation for rural women.
The project's impact on household food security can be measured through estimated household spending. According to the survey, a comparison of the pre- and post-project situation shows that spending increased for 52% of households, remained unchanged for 34% and decreased for 13%. In addition, according to conversations with beneficiary women, the project led to a marked improvement in nutrition in their families as products for self-consumption (meat, eggs and vegetables) became more available.
Although no precise technical studies of environmental impact are available, certain project actions have had a perceptible impact. Examples include flood protection for farmland in areas with soil constraints, reductions in solid waste in waterways and in reservoir siltage, and technical and cultural heritage protection (valleys, oases, khettaras). The survey data suggest somewhat mitigated results for rangeland and a less pronounced reduction in soil fertility for project users, although most respondents report a continued decline in soil fertility.
Impact on institutions. Within the two Offices, the project has clearly had an impact on officers' operating capacity through improvements in mobility, skills and technical resources. Working methods and approaches were conceptualized, formalized and improved, particularly in the areas of agricultural extension, rangeland development and organizations of farmers and herders. By strengthening the Women's Division (SAF) of the ORMVA for Tafilalet and by creating the SAF in the ORMVA for Ouarzazate, the project unquestionably lent momentum to the existing strategy to develop extension activities to benefit women. In addition, actions to develop literacy and income-generating activities for women have improved economic and social conditions markedly for women in the project area.
The PDRT in Dades has set a precedent for change in one practice that is still widespread, whereby design and implementation rely exclusively on the engineer and beneficiary opinions are relegated to second place. The AUEAs are beginning to take part in validating the design of actions affecting them, and in monitoring the results. This kind of grass-roots participation has in some cases enabled changes to be made to projects to adapt them to beneficiaries' needs and priorities.
Gender. Awareness among rural women in the project area concerning their social and economic circumstances is just beginning to develop, and thus far is present only among the officers of livestock raising cooperatives and members of local associations (contacts with banks and the Professional Dissemination and Organization Division to request information directly, etc.). On the other hand, some cooperatives and associations set up to promote women continue to be directed almost exclusively by men (Ferkla Association to develop women's work); these men appear to cite, to justify the creation of women's organizations, the decline of activity by women in farming operations following several dry years, as well as unemployment among the few educated women in villages.
The sustainability of the impact mentioned above remains contingent on future developments in the socioeconomic and sociopolitical environment (economic growth, strengthening of the democratic process, development choices and strategies), on the capacity for action and adaptation on the part of local actors and on steps taken by the administration to build upon results. Among the indicators of sustainability are the partnership approach pursued by both offices with associations and cooperatives, which should improve the sustainability of project achievements and ownership by local actors directly concerned, as well as the sound financial position for all irrigation and drinking water users' associations visited (although expenditures only rarely include depreciation of equipment owned by the Office). Risk factors include: i) the fragility of pastoral cooperatives, which are still largely dependent upon technical, financial, material and human resources provided by the administration; ii) the limitations of cooperatives as associations initiated by the Offices under the PDRT; these are often small artisanal enterprises that are increasingly faced with competition and market realities and subject to a number of constraints; iii) the nature of the close outreach methods practised by the Offices under the PDRT, which require significant human and material resources that may be lacking at the project's end and/or upon the departure of experienced technicians under the new voluntary retirement programme offered to government officials.
Innovation and replicability. The concept of participatory development for irrigation infrastructure ought to have been a major innovation, procedurally speaking. It must be acknowledged, however, that in most cases participation has been confined to financing and maintenance (as established in the project design). Nevertheless, in Dades a new phenomenon has arisen. The AUEAs have begun to take part in validating the design of actions affecting them and monitoring outcomes. The encouraging results of Office/AUEA partnerships under the PDRT led the Hydro-Agricultural Division of MADRPM to choose Ouarzazate to organize a national seminar on the participatory approach to irrigation (2004). In implementing the drinking water component, the ORMVA of Ouarzazate opted for water supply through household connections, whereas the vision in the 1990s (and the original project design) called for supply by public hydrant. Thanks to the PDRT and its actions in 29 douars to extend access to all households, including the poorest, this option was ultimately selected at the provincial level. Household connections have changed the way homes operate and saved time for women by alleviating their workload.
Overall impact assessment. Despite a complicated project design, a rather large number of components and a vast intervention area, the project objectives have largely been achieved, particularly in terms of physical goals. Innovative approaches and methodologies were introduced by the Offices in both regions where the project was active. Beneficiaries made a direct contribution to the success of many actions under the various project components. Nevertheless, the project's achievements remain vulnerable for all components. A rapid exit by public agencies and the lack of a strategic vision for comprehensive sustainable development in these disadvantaged regions constitute serious risks to the sustainability of the actions and innovations introduced by the PDRT in Dades and Tafilalet.
Perormance of the partners
In the case of IFAD, the project was well aligned with development guidelines and concerns for the project area. However, some weaknesses and imprecision were found in the definition of the target group and the project seemed to lack spatial integration of the components, of which there were a large number. IFAD carried out a number of monitoring and support missions during implementation to offset the inadequate technical and methodological oversight provided by AFESD. These missions were of good quality from an analytical point of view, and they stepped up activities and improved project implementation overall.
The cooperating institution, AFESD, conducted a very limited number of supervision missions. In spite of this limited contribution, ORMVAs were reporting to the evaluation mission their satisfaction with AFESD responsiveness in terms of financial management. In selected cases, however, budget overruns were authorised that necessitated verifications and corrections within IFAD. Also, project supervision by AFESD was limited to physical and financial aspects, which is inadequate for a project of this scale. Given the insufficient input to approaches and methodology, physical programmes could not always be linked to objectives in an integrated way in time and space.
Due to their internal organisation and resource availability, the other co-financiers (OPEC, IsDB) were involved in the physical and financial monitoring mainly to the component that they were directly financing (separate progress reports and monitoring missions), relying on supervision by AFESD. There were contacts between these donors and implementing agencies but a more limited support to project implementation and strategy.
The Government. Performance by ORMVAs can be considered satisfactory overall, as evidenced by the physical goals achieved, disbursement rates and relevance of most components carried out. This demonstrates that both ORMVAs possess sound competencies for managing major projects (in particular, hydro-agricultural projects), including under direct contracts with an external donor. The survey indicates that the beneficiaries have an overall positive assessment of the degree of attention paid to them by project officials, with some points of dissension on the part of pastoral cooperatives in Tafilalet and AUEAs in Dades. Nevertheless, a number of weaknesses interfered with efforts made by the Offices, particularly with respect to spatial integration of actions, partnerships with other public institutions, and monitoring and evaluation.
The support provided by the ministries having responsibility for ORMVAs (Agriculture and Finance) contributed to the positive results. The procedures requiring submission to the Hydro-Agricultural Development Division (DAHA) before commencing studies and works ensured supplementary control, particularly in terms of technical specifications in contractual documents. In the case of other central divisions at the MADRPM (having responsibility for animals, plants and outreach), contacts and exchanges of information with PDRT were much less frequent, so that the project did not enjoy sufficient support, nor were the project results disseminated in other regions of the country.
Performance by the various partnerships forged under the PDRT was uneven. The agreements entered into by the Offices with the Provincial Office for Support Services (DPEN), and the Provincial Office for Youth and Sport (DJPS) did not generate a collaborative dynamic, and the provincial offices did not significantly improve the operation of centres renovated and equipped under the project. In short, the partnership among sectoral public agencies present in the region remains tenuous, which does not favour complementarity and harmonization among sectors (tourism and agriculture, for instance, or drinking water user associations and the National Water Office). Also, beyond the joint hosting of the start-up workshop and a few visits, there is little coordination between the two Offices although they are managing the same project with the same approach and encountering the same kinds of problems.
The importance of the partnership between the ORMVAs and grassroots associations is better understood by project staff, as it is nowadays in Morocco overall. This shift is still fragile, however, with an unequal partnership, with technical issues and resources on one side and on the other only goodwill. Partner associations must benefit from specific support over time, and partnership with populations must not mean an abrupt disengagement by the State and its agencies in the short term, but rather a different kind of engagement, involving adapted financing and learning mechanisms that will lead to a gradual transfer of responsibility.
The overall partnership among co-financiers was characterised by the little harmonization of the programmes financed by the various donors or of implementation and monitoring procedures. To all intents and purposes there are three separate projects in terms of financing, planning, implementation, procedures and monitoring. For instance, no benefit was drawn from the IsDB's presence in Morocco to coordinate monitoring and support activities: no joint mission or workshop took place to discuss implementation issues.
Overall assessment and conclusions
Over the past ten years, the PDRT has played a very important role in the economic and social development of Tafilalet and Dades, thanks to a varied programme of action that has enabled the project to make an effective contribution to poverty reduction. The priority assigned to developing basic infrastructure and equipment is justified both by the strategic importance of this component to consolidate economic and social development and by the deficient infrastructure in both project regions, which cover a vast expanse of land. In this sense, the waterworks component, in which two thirds of the investment was made, has led to the installation and rehabilitation of hydraulic infrastructure on a large scale which is crucial to support human activity in pre-Saharan areas under serious threat of cyclical drought.
The PDRT's actions to promote rural women have made a very positive and necessary contribution to strengthening the current evolution of the social fabric in these regions. Outreach by the Offices has undoubtedly helped raise the technical skills of farmers in both regions. Such outreach must however be seen in the context of Morocco's agricultural policy, which increasingly favours a reduced role for the State and corresponding increase in the role of the professions.
The project was implemented under a participatory approach. In some cases, however, the two ORMVAs appear to have interpreted this in a utilitarian and reductive way that identified beneficiary contributions to sharing costs with the State and maintaining equipment and infrastructure. Important exceptions emerge from the experience of the ORMVA of Ouarzazate and can represent the basis for further interventions.
The construction of rural infrastructure and the exploitation of agricultural land have long been priorities for the ORMVAs in view of the imperatives of increasing agricultural production and creating income sources for rural populations. New development needs are currently being felt in both regions. They have to do primarily with: i) protecting the sustainability of fragile ecosystems and a precious heritage of landscapes and technical structures (valleys under development, oases, khettaras) that bear witness to the rural populations' ingeniousness and ability to adapt to a difficult environment; ii) promoting rural populations and combating the poverty and exclusion that place economic and social development in these regions in jeopardy.
The challenges to be faced in meeting these emerging needs include the typical constraints of arid regions where natural resources do not support unlimited intensification and development of agricultural production. Hence the imperative of diversifying income sources, particularly for poor families, so that they may overcome the obstacles of depleted soil and drought, a structural reality in the project area. New prospects are opening up for economic and social development in Tafilalet and Dades, through promotion of the tourism and film industries. Tourism is being developed particularly in the province of Ouarzazate. The area possesses a number of assets for the cinema and has built a reputation as one of the world's premier film locations, with very competitive production costs (30% to 40% below those of the United States and Europe).
Based on the foregoing, some recommendations can be made to underpin actions by the Offices in the two project regions and strengthen IFAD's partnership with Morocco for effective poverty reduction and rural development. Given the nature of this review as a completion evaluation, three strategic rather than operational thrusts are in order:
Developing a strategic vision for integrated and sustainable regional development
- Poverty reduction needs to be embedded in a more comprehensive regional multisector development strategy. This would include greater coordination and consensus-building among the various development partners in these regions. Public authorities will still have to play a key role in the organization and support to the development process by mobilizing resources (above all, financing) and skills required. This recommendation is addressed to the ministerial, regional and provincial authorities and departments, with IFAD's support.
- The oasis landscape in the largest sense (including mountainous valleys) should be set again as a matter of primary concern for rural development projects in the area, not only as a pre-condition for subsistence but also as a precious collective cultural heritage with potential for economic diversification (including eco-tourism) that could be developed profitably and beneficially. This recommendation is addressed in particular to the ORMVAs and MADRPM.
- Elaborate a strategy to ensure the maintenance of infrastructural investments. To this end, the gradual transfer of irrigation system management to AUEAs should be accompanied by support for their activities (redeployment of ORMVA staff to strengthen units of AUEAs, training for AUEAs and upgrading for technicians in their new role as advisers to AUEAs). This recommendation is addressed to the ORMVAs and MADRPM.
- Pastoral development in arid regions represents a difficult task which needs considerable human and material resources, as well as a strategy of intervention based on integrated approaches (geographical and sectoral), and in-depth and updated knowledge of dynamics in the pastoral zones. A rigorous assessment should be undertaken of the cooperatives created in the framework of PDRT and PDPEO, in order to draw lessons from the two important experiences. This recommendation is addressed to the ORMVAs and MADRPM.
- The ORMVAs need to update their operating approaches and modalities to perform a mission that is complex, yet stimulating and motivating. Finding motivated and skilled human resources (beyond agricultural techniques) is a challenge that must be met. It should also be noted that the implementation of a sustainable regional development strategy that integrates and adds value to the agricultural potential requires the involvement of institutions and competencies outside agriculture. This recommendation is addressed to provinces and the concerned ministerial departments.
- The two ORMVAs have been capable of starting up partnership dynamics for project implementation with the population, the public institutions, State and local associations. This creates opportunities for local development managed by local actors. Selected experiences should be analysed in-depth, through a research-development programme involving the ORMVAs and research institutions in order to draw relevant lessons. This is particularly the case of ORMVA/AUEA partnerships for maintaining, protecting and enhancing the infrastructure installed. This recommendation is addressed to DAHA and educational and research establishments.
- Better coordination is needed among donors, perhaps in the form of a shared agenda for support and supervision (for example common supervision/support missions, co-financed by the various donors). Any donor presence in the country offers an advantage that should be used for dialogue with local agencies and authorities. This recommendation is addressed to the donors and the implementation agencies.
Project formulation and targeting and means of verifying achievements
- Simplify project formulation through a more selective definition of components and better targeting of project activities, both geographically and based on the needs of the poor. Consolidate the dynamics of promoting poor populations by undertaking more integrated projects with better coordination of actions from the outset. Women's associations offer good opportunities for training and advancement of rural women and need to be strengthened. A study might be conducted to identify opportunities for income-generating activities by women (including upgrading the quality of their products to be competitive in selected niches) and ways of supporting them. This recommendation is addressed to both the ORMVAs and their specialized partners (the Ministry of Agriculture, ORMVAs, IFAD).
- Set up a results-based monitoring and evaluation system that can document impact (changes in household welfare) based on a simple logical framework. In addition, documentation, knowledge management and communication of field experiences and achievements should be reinforced. New information and communication technologies are an effective means of capitalizing upon and exchanging such experiences with other actors nationally and internationally, and should primarily be developed within the ORMVAs by the appropriate divisions, possibly with some external facilitation and support by donors. This recommendation is addressed to the ORMVAs and MADRPM.
1/ Composed of Messrs A. Abaab, agricultural economist and Mission Leader, A. Abdelguerfi, agricultural pastoralist, M. Daoudi, rural engineering specialist and Mrs K. Rivière, agronomist. A wrap-up meeting was held on 12 October 2005 at the Office of the Secretary General of the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries (MADRPM). Mr F. Felloni, Evaluation Officer (IFAD's Office of Evaluation) participated at the beginning and the end of the mission. In addition to interviews with officials at MADRPM in Rabat, which took place from 12 to 14 September 2005, the mission visited the field from 15 September to 8 October 2005. Prior to the mission, an Approach Paper was prepared and submitted to stakeholders (May 2005), a reconnaissance mission (June 2005) was conducted by Mr Felloni, and a rural survey was carried out in both project regions (August 2005) under the direction of Mr M. Mahdi (ENA-Meknès). The evaluation team would like to thank the Moroccan technical offices at the central and regional levels for their support to the mission.
4/ The project area (belonging to the pre-Saharan region, where agriculture is entirely dependent on irrigation) is also indicated as a geographical priority for IFAD in the country strategy document (COSOP) of 1999.