Projet de Développement Rural de Dabakala Katiola (1993)
Punakha Wangdi Valley Development Project (1993)
Mid-term evaluation report summary
The project area is in the Inner Himalayan region in west-central Bhutan, with peaks ranging from 3 000 to 5 000 meters and includes many densely populated valleys. The area comprises mainly hilly land at elevations of 1 200/1 800 meters. It is connected by a 70 km all-weather tarmac road to Thimphu, which forms part of the main east-west highway of the country. It enjoys cool dry winters and wet warm summers, with rainfall averaging 600/800 mm, concentrated mainly in the summer (monsoon) months.
The soils are generally of good quality and the area under cropped agriculture is around 5 000 ha, of which irrigated terraces comprise 81%, and rainfed non-terraced cultivation 13%, with a further 3% under shifting cultivation, 1.5% under kitchen gardens and 1.3% in orchards. Pasture/grazing land is not included in the agricultural area estimates. The area under improved pasture is negligible. Almost 518 of the irrigated land is planted to paddy in the main summer cropping season and about 50% of this area is cropped with a winter crop of wheat, barley, mustard or other crops. The overall cropping intensity was about 150% at project commencement.
The target group originally was estimated to be 3 500 farm families, comprising 20 000 people. Later, with better data on average household size, the number of households was reduced to 3 200.
Although the original intention of the project was to include all households in the targeted "gewogs" (excluding the urban areas), project support was extended only to the households at elevations below 1 800 meters (except for the credit component).
The farmers in the project area operate, on average, holdings of 1.5 ha. About 75% of this area is irrigated, mainly paddy planted. Most farmers are small owner operators, but many of them (about 60%) are also part-tenants, renting some land to augment their holdings.
Small farmers represent 14% of households and operate 6% of total cultivated land. Smaller farmers are land poor but labour rich; they cultivate intensively and use their resources more efficiently than larger farmers.
Objectives and components
The main objectives of the project were to increase food-grain production, increase smallholder incomes and to strengthen agricultural institutions.
The project components were: (i) irrigation development, soil erosion control and rural infrastructure development; (ii) agricultural extension, adaptive research and training; (iii) animal husbandry and agroforestry; (iv) training; (v) rural credit; (vi) marketing; (vii) monitoring and evaluation; and (vii) Project Management Unit.
The expected effects of the project were to: (i) improve agricultural production in the irrigated areas and crop production from the permanently cropped rainfed areas; (ii) increase productivity in the livestock sub-sector; (iii) strengthen supporting service institutions for the country as a whole and in the project area in particular; and (iv) protect the agricultural and natural environment through pilot activities in erosion control and village forestry.
The project objectives and expected output and effects are premised on the following assumptions: (i) an increase in rice production on irrigated land is economical, and/or in the best interests of the country. It is the most effective way of increasing food security and incomes of the farmers in the project area; (ii) the technologies disseminated by the project will be relevant to the farmers in terms of their preferences, needs, and resource capabilities, and will be adopted by them (including small farmers and tenants); (iii) the planned intensification/expansion of crop and livestock production will not adversely affect the land and environment; or if so the project's agroforestry and erosion control components can effectively counteract any such negative effects.
The MTE Mission was in Bhutan from April 9 to April 30 1993. It visited Thimphu and project sites. The report was written in Rome. In preparation for the evaluation, IFAD (OE/PI) had designed and funded a Rapid Diagnostic Survey that was conducted by the Planning and Policy Division (PPD) of the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) in 1991.
Implementation context and evolution
The free trade policy and import of cheaper grains from India has affected negatively incentives for greater food production. On the other hand, this policy has allowed for cheaper imported agricultural inputs. The new emphasis on commodities in which the country has a comparative advantage (such as horticultural products) has introduced greater profitability into agriculture. The recent devaluation of the Ngultrum has contributed to a dramatic increase in agricultural exports over the last three years.
The objectives of improving institutions and supporting services are being satisfactorily achieved. The project has continued the role of its predecessor as path-finder and model for the design and development of institutions and services across Bhutan.
The project has succeeded in raising crop production and productivity on irrigated and rainfed lands through increases in yields and improved utilization of wetlands.
There has been an increase in paddy production, with area and yield increases well above the Staff Appraisal Report (SAR) estimates, achieved with traditional and improved varieties.
The project is beginning to move into technology mixes which are less costly, less dependent on imports and more sustainable (involving the greater use of traditional varieties, greater use of farmyard manure (FYM), green manure, etc.).
The project has completed ten schemes covering a total of 48 km of channels (of which three are new schemes), while a further 21 schemes are undergoing construction or rehabilitation.
The project has disbursed a total of Nu 6.76 million (USD 328 509) in rural credit. Since recoveries amounted to Nu 3.55 million, total net lending amounted to Nu 3.02 million (USD 151 077). Whereas the SAR had estimated that 40% of the lending would be for seasonal purposes and 60% for medium-term loans, the latter have absorbed 70% of all lending up to the end of 1991.
Effects, impact and sustainability
The project has improved food security and has also contributed to an increase in small farm incomes. In regard to livestock, the base has been laid for increasing productivity, through necessary infrastructure, veterinary and breeding services. The pilot activities in erosion control, agro- and social-forestry, should contribute (through appropriate methodology and technology) to environmental protection in Bhutan. The project is making a very positive contribution to agricultural development in Bhutan.
The irrigation technology, after initial testing, has been rapidly adopted. Water flow has improved and farmers' labour in maintaining channels has been substantially reduced.
About 90% of farmers have adopted the recommended practices for the paddy wheat rotation. There is little or no difference in adoption between men and women. The adoption rates for fodder development and fodder trees exceed 90%. For the other livestock-related activities, there is no single case where the proportion of adopters was less than 50%.
Farmers have adopted paddy double cropping (recommended and subsidized by the project) only to a limited extension. The number of farmers adopting the double paddy rotation has declined slightly, while the area planted has continued to increase. The latter is only 0.42 acres for the larger farmers and 0.28 acres for the small farmers, covering about 11%-16% of the total paddy areas. Most farmers plant only a few terraces of their wetland with double cropped paddy, while they use the rest of their farms for the traditional paddy-wheat combination supplemented by vegetables for cash.
Services such as extension and credit have reached women almost to the same extent as men. However, women bear a disproportionately larger share of the added labour burden of the project's intensification. Expansion of production has fallen mainly on the crops with which women are most engaged.
The subsistence orientation is gradually disappearing in the project area. Project activities and overall growth in Bhutan have made the peasant dominated sector more active, and enhanced monetization and market orientation.
The project intends to establish a pipe spinning plant in the area to produce necessary concrete pipes. Given the mountainous terrain and scarce sand and labour for timely channel construction/repair, this appears a justified use of scarce capital so as to ensure the sustainability of the technology introduced.
The sustainability of the trend towards a more equitable income distribution, in part, has been compromised because of the subsidy on power tillers. The greatest part of medium-term loans went for the purchase of power tillers, whose private and social profitability are doubtful, yet power tillers are subsidized at a rate of about 50%. This equipment in part is used for the purpose of transportation. But when used for tillage, it represents land augmenting technology and reduces the demand for labour, and work oxen teams, hired from smaller farmers.
On the other hand, there is a shift in the project towards greater sustainability, towards what can be realistically continued by the farmers without subsidies and support after project completion. For example, there is a greater stress on lower input systems, more emphasis on the use of farmyard manure/compost, introduction of multi-purpose green manure crops, the direct seeding of the first paddy crop (instead of using expensive plastic sheeting to cover seedlings), and generally a move towards a closer integration of crops and livestock and agroforestry, although there is much more to be done.
Effectiveness of the M&E system
Physical and financial progress under the project is monitored reasonably well, although, there is a need for beneficiary contact monitoring to provide an assessment of needs and constraints on a periodic basis. It is recommended that group or village level meetings/questionnaires be used for this purpose.
It is also necessary to emphasize the importance of special studies and diagnostic studies of particular problems as an aid to project planning and implementation as well as evaluation.
In the rural credit activities there has been an impressive increase in lending between 1989 and 1991, but benefits to small farmers have been less than expected. The low uptake of seasonal credit is due to factors involving both demand and supply. Supply is limited because of long delays and difficulties in obtaining loans. Demand is limited because of feared inability to repay and insufficient collateral.
Far too liberal credit approval by the project (Bhutan Development Finance Corporation -BDFC), coupled with the large subsidy (see above), has permitted a rapid expansion of medium-term credit for power tillers. The most serious issue relating to credit is associated with this unwarranted and damaging increase in the number of power tillers (even though the subsidy is outside the project's domain). The SAR provided for four such tillers, but by April 1992 not less than 71 units had been provided. The power tiller issue touches on the very foundation for sustaining equity-oriented growth in the project area. Large farmers are the main purchasers and their purchase becomes profitable because of the subsidy. Until recently, tillers were financed at an interest rate of 10%, less than half the market interest rate, and less even than the rate of inflation (estimated at 12% per year). The promotion of labour-saving technology through mechanized plowing by power tillers impairs the project's equity orientation.
With prospects of declining labour productivity in cropping, farmers strive to expand their cattle population. With limited grazing areas, the biomass is not sustained. Yields and/or cropping intensity cannot be sustained in the longer run. Ultimately, the supply of Farmyard Manure (FYM) is falling. Maintaining soil fertility, and labour productivity, requires enough fodder and grazing resources to enable higher FYM application intensity.
Despite project vehicle provision, the mobility of extension workers has been impaired by unforseen scarcity of funds for fuel, staff travelling expenses and procurement of spare parts.
The tenancy situation must be reconsidered when selecting water channels for rehabilitation in order to avoid delayed implementation. In sites where tenancy rights are uncertain, where tenants are subjected to additional payments not permitted by the Land Act, voluntary labour contributions are not forthcoming for channel rehabilitation. Implementation is delayed and disputes need early arbitration. Other channels, not affected by unequal ownership patterns and/or disputes, should be given chronological priority. The project, as a matter of priority, needs to develop criteria for selecting irrigation channels for rehabilitation not subject to disputes and consequent delay.
It is time to see the double paddy rotation programme in a broader perspective. Firstly, its net financial returns are not necessarily higher than those of the traditional wheat-paddy rotation. The best strategy for extension workers is to encourage small farmers less towards more paddy cultivation (through double cropping), and more towards higher value production by exploiting market opportunities.
While the animal husbandry breeding programme is going well, it is necessary to articulate a strategy for reaching more farmers. Improved, locally adapted crosses should be developed (possibly 50% Jersey, 25% Mithun and 25% Siri) over a broader base of farmers. The breeding programme should be encouraged by incentives such as the concentration of veterinary and extension services in areas of relatively intensive dairy production, while preference in further incentives and credit be given to farmers prepared to adopt complementary measures in pasture improvement and reduction of unproductive animals.
Agricultural research must focus on innovations which fit farmers' resource availability; models of low input use need to be explored.
Technologies economizing on scarce labour during peak demand and providing opportunities at other times are appropriate.
Research should be targeted to seek a stabilized and improved supply of FYM and improved use of green manure. Efforts should also increase for research on low input (mineral fertilizer) use and on how to adapt dosages to farmers' cash constraints.
Women need to be specifically targeted for possible labour saving technology respecting their typical activities (e.g. seed selection, weeding, transplanting and FYM collection). Although one new female extension worker has been recruited (more should be recruited) this is no panacea for more effectively reaching women farmers. Male extension workers should be given more training in diagnosis and be re-trained also to assist women farmers and explore possible points of impact regarding the operations they perform. The possibility of using female farmer extension assistants at village level should also be explored.
A more affirmative and more comprehensive approach is required to safeguard the environment under the pressures of increasing human and animal populations, and project-induced agricultural intensification. Firstly, conservation efforts should deal not only with ad hoc cases by gully plugging, but also with the different types of erosion on given representative land use patterns including communal grazing lands. On lands that are not individually owned, group formation and training, as well as tenurial incentives (to encourage tree planting) and subsidies, become necessary.
Small farmers have benefitted from project-induced intensification, but with soil infertility and/or FYM constraints and reduced labour demand from larger farmers (the power tiller issue), their prospects are no longer bright. To counter these negative trends, it is necessary to focus more particularly on the smaller farmers, respecting their technological and institutional needs. They need to be specially targeted for shifting to higher value crops/products. This requires a re-channelling of extension and credit for these activities, so as to bring relevant technology within their reach.
Improved methodologies are required in research and in extension for identifying points of impact so as to support farmers in their efforts to intensify crop and animal husbandry practices. This need translates into use of (i) participatory methods in setting research and extension priorities, and in the design and verification of trials; and (ii) further economic analysis to understand farmers' decision making and to improve the allocation of scarce project resources.
The Government and the project should review the rationale of the double paddy programme. Adoption of double paddy cropping becomes less attractive once subsidies are eliminated on inputs.
Output prices will be kept low for the foreseeable future because of cheap imported Indian grain. Especially for the small farmers, the primary aim of the project should be to maximize their income and food security.
There is a case where modest subsidies promote soil conservation measures. There is little reason to expect small farmers, even in a group context, to undertake major soil conservation measures using credit. Subsidies should be targeted at smaller farmers.
Livestock productivity needs to be considered more carefully in project planning and implementation. The genetic quality of the herds has been upgraded through the provision of stud bulls and Artificial Insemination (AI) services.
Farmers in general, and particularly small farmers, need to be involved in planting fodder trees on their drylands and on leased forest lands. They need planting material, credit and extension advice.
The possibility of using radio as an instrument of extension for reaching farmers in more remote villages should be explored in order to improve outreach and improve cost-effectiveness. The experience elsewhere with radio listening groups, using a village appointed group leader (monitor) is worth emulating.
The BDFC needs to be more flexible in its credit appraisal, relying more on expected productivity of investment and less on individual collateral.
In terms of credit programme sustainability the high costs of credit delivery to a great number of scattered small farmers must be covered. Interest rates need to exceed prevailing rates of inflation.
The project should explore the feasibility of improving the marketing site in Wangdi by providing space, simple roofing, water and sanitation. Women from distant villages selling vegetables would benefit.
Any future project in this area should consider not only roads, but also foot-bridges and rope-ways to help the people with their transport and marketing needs.
The M&E System must firstly monitor labour demand and supply, by land-poor and land-rich households, secondly the incidence of technology adoption by farm size, and thirdly the nature of tenancy contracts and their impact on productivity and equity.
Relatively simple PC-based software is available for the monitoring of credit delivery, loan administration and repayment performance.
Such software should be installed both in Punakha and Wangdi; the credit officers should receive necessary training from the Office for Project Services (OPS) bureau in Bangkok which is familiar with relevant software and training possibilities.
Lessons on extension activities
In view of the Government's financial constraints and the need for relevant feedback, present diffusion models need review. The possibility of using farmers as lower level extension workers (after necessary training) should also be explored. The use of village level extension workers offers promise in terms of a cheaper, more effective channel to encourage farmers' experimentation, relevant feedback, and dissemination of extension messages in the remote villages. Such farmer-extension agents would not be directly paid by Government, but could be assisted in kind through free inputs, training, etc., and villagers could compensate them for foregone earnings (labour lost).
Lessons on nutrition and food security
With a more diversified production, food security has improved, and this is not exclusively related to paddy production. The percentage of small farmers with a rice-deficit is, of course, larger than that of larger farmers. But, while much has been made of the importance of the double paddy crop for the food security of small farmers, these farmers obtain the necessary purchasing power through selling other crops. Their food security is not necessarily related to their degree of rice self sufficiency. The argument that paddy double cropping is necessary for the small farmers' food security can be justified only if it provides the small farmers with the highest returns on land and labour over the entire year, which available data do not show convincingly. In fact, net financial returns from paddy double cropping are not necessarily higher than those of the traditional wheat-paddy rotation. The best strategy to use for small farmers is to steer them less towards more paddy cultivation (through double cropping) and more towards higher value production exploiting market opportunities.
Lessons on beneficiary incomes
In the light of the tight feed situation, continued acquisition of more cattle (even if improved) gradually becomes counter-productive.
Compensating measures are needed to increase feed while reducing useless cattle units.
Lessons on beneficiary participation
In sites where tenancy rights are uncertain, voluntary labour contributions are not forthcoming for channel rehabilitation. Tenants were found to be reluctant to participate/contribute to channel rehabilitation since their short-term tenures precluded reaping their longer-term benefits.
Implementation is delayed and disputes need early arbitration. Other channels that are not affected by unequal ownership patterns and/or disputes should be given chronological priority.
The introduction of new water users' groups has often resulted in conflict and lack of participation, as has happened in some other Asian countries. Hence, all modifications must be done in close consultation with the farmers. Meanwhile, project inputs can be used as an incentive when working with farmers to modify existing organizations and water distribution practices with a view to improving their efficiency and equity.
Lessons on environmental impact
Farmer participation is essential for the successful introduction of erosion control measures, because of sharing of potential costs/benefits and the long-term nature of possible benefits.
Experience in other countries has shown the need: (i) for farmers to be aware and appreciate the erosion and soil loss; (ii) for a menu of technologies and practices from which they can choose according to their needs; and (iii) of flexibility in tailoring activities to meet the different location-specific requirements.
Proyecto de Desarrollo Agropecuario Cotagaita-San Juan del Oro
El proyecto se encuentra localizado en la parte sudoriental del departamento de Potosí e incluye zonas rurales de las provincias de Nor Chichas, Sud Chichas y Modesto Omiste. El área de intervención corresponde a las cuencas de los ríos Cotagaita y San Juan del Oro, con un área total de 20 000 km². La topografía presenta marcadas variaciones: profundos valles interandinos (2 700-3 200 m.s.n.m.) y llanos altoandinos con altitudes superiores a los 4 000 m.s.n.m. La población del área se estima en 129 000 personas, con densidades entre 5.3 y 9.1 hab/km².
A principios de 1980 el ingreso familiar anual del grupo objetivo del proyecto era de USD 520, del cual la mitad provenía de salarios estacionales percibidos fuera de la región. Se calculaba que el ingreso 'per cápita' era de USD 130 por año, inferior al nivel de ingreso de pobreza absoluta.
Document: Executive summary
Cotagaita San Juan Del Oro Agricultural Development Project
El proyecto se encuentra localizado en la parte sudoriental del departamento de Potosí e incluye zonas rurales de las provincias de Nor Chichas, Sud Chichas y Modesto Omiste. El área de intervención corresponde a las cuencas de los ríos Cotagaita y San Juan del Oro, con un área total de 20 000 km². La topografía presenta marcadas variaciones: profundos valles interandinos (2 700-3 200 m.s.n.m.) y llanos altoandinos con altitudes superiores a los 4 000 m.s.n.m. La población del área se estima en 129 000 personas, con densidades entre 5.3 y 9.1 hab/km².A principios de 1980 el ingreso familiar anual del grupo objetivo del proyecto era de USD 520, del cual la mitad provenía de salarios estacionales percibidos fuera de la región. Se calculaba que el ingreso 'per cápita' era de USD 130 por año, inferior al nivel de ingreso de pobreza absoluta.
El grupo objetivo está constituido por agricultores con fincas de 1.5 ha. en promedio, destacando que el 51% tiene fincas con menos de 0.5 ha. de tierra cultivable, ubicadas en los valles interandinos a lo largo de los ríos. Se trata de un total de 10 500 familias, de las cuales 5 500 serán beneficiarias del componente de crédito y extensión.
Agricultural Development Project on the Mainland (1993)
The project was designed to build institutions and provide the platform for future development. Overall, only modest production increases were expected given the pilot nature of the project. Accordingly, this evaluation does not measure impact in economic terms. Instead, it seeks to determine the degree to which the project has created a favorable setting for regional development, and whether it has provided the information required for a possible second project. The evaluation aims at drawing out "lessons learned", useful in design and implementation of future projects in Equatorial Guinea.
Methodology for evaluation
Primary as well as secondary data sources were used. The mission conducted a Rapid Diagnostic Survey in 20 villages, selected at random from the Population Census list. In 13 of these villages, project activities had been or were conducted. A total of 60 interviews were conducted: 20 with groups and 40 with households. Data were collected inter alia on transport, farming systems, marketing and prices. Additional interviews were held with farmers, both men and women, government officials, and health and education services personnel in the project area. Other projects active in the area were visited.
A proper base line study at project inception was not undertaken. Reliable information is not available with which to measure quantitative changes in production and incomes over time. The ex-ante study (Estudio de Base) provides limited information and cannot be used for comparisons. Other information for the region is not available, except for a population census.
The SAR defined the qualitative and quantitative benefits expected from the project. Qualitative benefits expected were: (i) improved staff capabilities in the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, through project staff training; (ii) strengthened village organizations; and (iii) improved living conditions at village level, through provision of implements, clean drinking water and diversification of the local diet.
Quantitative benefits expected would consist mainly of increased coffee production, and associated foreign exchange earnings were estimated at US$ 425,000. Coffee yields were estimated to rise by 10% because of availability of inputs/tools, but cultivated area would not expand. The coffee rehabilitation and replanting program was expected to generate an internal rate of return of 15% to 20%, depending on the extent of quality improvement. Apart from coffee production, quantitative benefits of the project support could not be measured in strict economic/financial terms. But, it was believed that main components were economically justified.
Distribution of implements and tools would be judged in terms of farmers' adoption rates. Trial and demonstration benefits would far outweigh costs, particularly in the long term. Village water supply program would reduce time spent by women in fetching water; and incidence of water borne diseases would fall.
The territory of Equatorial Guinea comprises five islands and the mainland, with 28 051 Kms2 and a population of 356 100. The capital Malabo is located on Bioko, the main island with 2 017 Kms2 and 75 420 inhabitants. The continental region has 26 000 Kms2 and 274 350 inhabitants. Climate is tropical with two rainy and two dry seasons per year and an average temperature of 25oC. Agriculture, forestry and fishing represent 70% of GNP; recently petroleum production was initiated. Agriculture is mainly of the semi-subsistence type, whereas cocoa and coffee produced for export are grown on medium size farms, the remnants of large plantations. The country previously was a large exporter of cocoa and coffee (60 000 tons of cocoa in 1969), but because of domestic political problems and falling world market prices production and exports stagnated.
At the time of project design in 1985, the economy was stagnating. Production capacity had been impaired, productivity had fallen and agricultural support services and physical infrastructure were no longer maintained. Food production was no longer meeting domestic demand. Living conditions had deteriorated. The government is now trying to bring back the economy to its levels in the sixties. Support services are improving. Small producers are marketing a larger surplus.
The project region, located in the Northeastern corner of the continental part of the country, borders Cameroon to the north and Gabon to the east. The region comprises 3 321 Km2, or 12% of that of the entire country. Its population is 66 000, or 22% of total population. Average density is 20 persons/Km2, larger than the national density estimated at 11 persons/Km2.
The rural population represents 90% of the total and resides in about 150 villages with an average of 400 inhabitants. The region is the site for the third largest city in the country, Ebebiyin. The region comprises an estimated 6 000 agricultural production units.
The climate is tropical with 2 000 mm. average annual rainfall and a mean temperature of 24oC. The natural vegetation is rain forest. Soils have low fertility. The region, once active and prosperous, was stagnating at the time of project design and implementation.
Appropriateness of design
The SAR properly defined constraints and the regional development potential. The project was designed to explore regional comparative advantage in production and trade of other crops than coffee and cocoa.
Semi-subsistence production remains constrained by limited labor not land. The dominant production system is shifting agriculture, which reflects the abundance of unused agricultural land. Hence, the scope for permanent cultivation is limited without physical infrastructure and marketing facilities that induce an intensification over and above that being slowly provided through the population growth. If food based semi-subsistence agriculture were to fill the vacuum left by cocoa and coffee, it would require improved technology directed towards raising productivity of labor, the primary limiting factor in production.
Stated objectives and implicit assumptions
The SAR stated five objectives:
(a) Improving coffee production and as a result farm incomes;
(b) Increasing and diversifying production of food crops;
(c) Raising labor productivity, especially for women;
(d) Improving health conditions; and
(e) Institution building as a platform for future development programs.
Several assumptions are implicit in project design: with better technology agriculture would respond to market demand both domestic and that across borders; output would expand. Focus on alternative cash crops, higher productivity and earnings would increase men's participation in agriculture.
The SAR included seven components, and without coffee production the subsequent Plan of Operations (PLANOP) retained six (see Table 1). The PLANOP was an updated version of the SAR and intended to be complementary. It was not sufficiently detailed and elaborated upon. For instance, the opportunities for designing a structured approach to participation of beneficiaries were missed. The IFAD staff did not succeed in elaborating further in setting out the process and modalities for ensuring an improved participation. In turn, the project management with TA failed to correct the situation.
The strategy was well designed, direct and simple: in the medium term, the project sought to introduce better cultivation practices and raise labor productivity of traditional crops. Support for coffee and cocoa production was intended to generate immediate production increases, which although limited, would provide working capital and time for shifting to alternative crops. The basic steps were set out for raising agricultural production, given the constraints in the region.
Project components were appropriate. The design reflected the weak institutional base and the limited government capacity to support the project. The project would be modest in scope and pilot in nature. It should initially rely on national institutions, focus on the village level, and utilize simple and proven technical solutions which responded to clearly understood needs. Its purpose was to establish a basis for future development, both in technical and institutional terms.
But the strategy had missing parts. Although basic assumptions were correct and logical, they were not elaborated upon. The rationale for selection of components was not transparent. This absence of clarity may explain why in practice crops different from those of the traditional plot came to be emphasized. The design also reflected technical rather than economic and social considerations. Implicitly, the design presupposed that the project - without feed back from participants and verification from farmers' fields under conditions of no subsidy - could successfully directly introduce production technology that would be readily adopted by women and men. The design did not set out to obtain data and feed back on returns to labor in alternative cropping activities, on traditional fallow systems as against crops on permanent fields. The drinking water component was the only component where an element of participation was included.
Number of beneficiaries
The project set out to implement components supporting production in 15 villages and involving 1 350 families (Table 2). But it should be noted that the well component covered not less than 34 villages.
Table 1. PADREM - Beneficiaries, 1987-1990
|New Families No.|| |
|Total Families No.|| |
|Total Villages No.|| |
Villages would be selected according to willingness to participate, number of inhabitants, and accessibility by road.
Project cost, disbursement and status
Implementation, starting in 1987, was to last four years, but because of delays, the project was extended to terminate in December 1993. The total loan represents USD 1 600 000, there is a grant of USD 800 000 and the government contributes 13% of the loan. The loan is for 50 years, at 1% annual service charge and a grace period of 10 years. Total disbursements per October 1992 were USD 1 482 000, the grant has been fully used, and the government has deposited USD 38 500 of its contribution. Unspent funds were USD 170 000. (Table 3).
Table 2. PADREM - Project Costs by Categories
October 30, 1992, - Thousand US $ -
|Ib||Drinking Water Program||99.8||68.3||68|
|IV||Agricultural Tools, inputs||249.2||300.8||121|
|VII||Authorized Fund Advance||110.0||--||--|
|VIII||With no assignation||260.0||1.3||--|
|TOTAL LOAN||1 600||1 482||93|
|GRANT Technical Assistance||800||800||100|
|TOTAL LOAN PLUS GRANT||2 400||2 282||95|
|TOTAL LOAN+GRANT+NAT.||2 608||2 438||94|
Source: Project Accounts
The executing national agency is the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, The Project Implementation Unit is composed of a Director, initially under a technical assistant contract with BDPA-SCETAGRI and the government. In Malabo, there is a project co-director. The extension unit is composed of seven persons. The operation of two applied research stations, buildings, vehicles and other equipment is entirely funded by the project.
In May 1982, the Equatorial Guinea Government requested a loan to rehabilitate its agricultural sector. The identification mission visited the country in June, 1982. The formulation mission prepared a document in June 1983; the appraisal report was completed in August, 1984, and updated in January, 1985 after the county's entry into the FCFA monetary system. Loan negotiations took place in February, 1985, the financing contract was signed in April, 1985. The project became effective in December, 1985. The first project manager arrived in October, 1986. The PLANOP was prepared in June, 1987. UNVs, vehicles and equipment arrived at the end of first semester, 1988.
Stages in implementation
Three periods can be distinguished in project implementation:
In the first period (Sept. 1987 - Dec. 1988), the rehabilitation of project houses and office buildings was completed; the first group of vehicles and motorcycles was in operation. Marketing of cocoa was initiated. New food crops technology was introduced. Trials and limited village demonstrations of horticulture took place. Goat raising was introduced in enclosed areas. The latter set out to generate manure that could be bought by the project from the participants. But these activities were not successful. The project bought cocoa and sold it at a loss in the open market; the enclosed goat raising resulted in malnutrition, disease and about 30 % of these animals died.
Understandably, confidence in the project management diminished. Personal relations between national personnel and technical assistance were poor. The first project manager left the project in December, 1988.
In the second period (Jan. 1989 - May 1992), with a new project manager, project activities were oriented to: (i) vegetable garden production; (ii) introducing technology for permanent cultivation, to provide an alternative to the shifting agriculture prevailing in the area; (iii) poultry production; and (iv) water supply. Complementary activities were supply of tools, marketing and transport of products. Permanent lots were based on maize and beans and not on main traditional food crops (groundnuts, cassava). Marketing and input supply were subsidized. A group of extension agents and the technical unit were in full operation. Vehicles and motorcycles were replaced. A small mill for feed production was in operation as well as a repair shop. Buildings and facilities in the two experimental stations, housing and offices for staff were constructed. The contract of the Project Manager was not extended.
In the current third period (June 1992 - to present), the foreign technical assistance staff has departed. Subsidies have been eliminated or are phased out. So far few changes have been made to technical recommendations, although the use of compost is being promoted. The water wells program was completed.
The project, although designed to be initiated in 1986, became effective in 1987 based on the PLANOP; although this documents states that objectives are kept in line with the original document, there are important differences. The PLANOP components were not executed as intended. More seriously, the PLANOP did not attempt to address the almost total exclusion of traditional agricultural crops from support. With this shortcoming, the project did not contribute to regional development to the degree expected.
The detailed comments below refer to the PLANOP list of components:
Support to agricultural production
This component was supposed to become the cornerstone of the project to develop a better technology for the shifting cultivation system as well as to
support permanent crops, but performance was not in line with expectations. A relevant elaborated strategy was never set out and operationalised. Hence, confusion and ambiguity may still remain within the project; the need to gradually improve upon traditional fallow systems was not clearly spelled out; instead the project set out to directly shift farmers to the cultivation of permanent fields. This is a serious mistake since with abundant land farmers optimise returns to labor but not to land and are less interested in permanent fields. While some experimentation on food crops was intended, little was achieved. Crop testing was initially practiced in two applied research stations (Obut and Bidjabidjan), but not with the detail and guidelines as set out in PLANOP.
Testing of new horticulture crops, maize and beans varieties was carried out prior to demonstrations in village fields. Several varieties of each of the horticultural crops were tested. A small collection of fruit trees had been established, but only for observation.
Observation trials on intercropping of maize and beans with leucaena were conducted for two years (four cycles). No further organized research trials were conducted: traditional crops such as groundnuts, cassava, plantain were never included in testing.
Tomatoes, onions, cabbage, and carrots were demonstrated in vegetable gardens (Table 4). Seeds and technical recommendations were satisfactory for the start-up period. Sites for vegetable gardens were well selected according to soil quality and availability of water from springs or wells. An extension agent was responsible for group based training of villagers in the production techniques. The groups were visited at least once per week. Production was bought by the project and sold in Bata and regional markets. Currently, vegetables are sold through private channels and the project no longer intervenes in marketing.
Table 3. Summary of Vegetable Gardens Activities, 1988 to 1991
A= First cropping cycle. Begins in March, ends in July.
B= Second cropping cycle. Begins in September, ends in December/January.
Participants report that earnings from vegetable gardens represent 33% of their family cash income.
The project as implemented has generated major confusion with regard to the role and management of permanent fields. The fields were intended largely as a demonstration activity with a total area of 0.25 ha. But, in practice, villagers assumed that cultivation of permanent fields had to be an income generating activity, even though the average plot size of participants was limited to merely 0.013 ha. Participating farmers, until recently, were paid directly by the project for crops produced. The project failed to provide sufficient information to correct, at least among some participants, a notion that has remained that this cultivation system was merely a continuation of the previous plantation type of labor system. Perhaps, there is still confusion among project staff as to the nature and purpose of permanent fields.
The agronomic practices introduced were not satisfactory. Sites were selected without soil testing and permanent plots were established in 15 villages. Their purpose was to demonstrate new improved practices: use of simple tools, row seeding, weeding and pest control. An additional use was to produce maize for feed, once poultry production was introduced. Maize and beans were rotated every six months, but inter-cropping or other crops were not tested. The project was designed to assist women. But no trials were conducted on groundnuts; this represent the most important crop for women in the traditional system, and on which they spend 70% of their time. The original recommendations in the SAR for variety and rotations were superior to those actually carried out. It is not easy to understand why the original recommendations as to variety and rotations were not carried out. In addition, soils were left bare, without green cover, after harvest to the next planting. Compost or mulching were not used.
Table 4. Summary of Permanent Crop Activities, 1988 to 1992
|Permanent Fields No.||1||16||44||36||63||44|
On the permanent plots, land was cleared and fenced through communal work, whereas seeding, cultivation and harvesting were carried out separately by each family. The project provided tools, seed and inputs at no cost. It bought beans which was sold in the open market and maize, used in the feed mill.
Participants complained of high labor inputs and low returns of cultivation in permanent fields.
Support has been directed towards egg production sold in the regional markets, in Bata, Mongomo and Gabon. Support comprised provision of chicken, feed and drugs. The latter at first were provided free, but are now fully paid for. Poultry is becoming an important income generating activity in the region, given local and external demand. Producers have attained the technical competence required to compete in the market. But three constraints have to be overcome: irregular supply of feed, of freshly hatched chicken, and in addition there are sanitary problems.
Improving product quality
The project did not improve the quality of coffee and cocoa, since these crops were to be phased out. Vegetable production was improved through new varieties, and training in selection and packaging before marketing.
Marketing improvement storage and transport support
The project was heavily involved in marketing. In the first phase, cocoa was purchased and sold in the open market at a loss. In the second phase, the project marketed most of the vegetables and eggs produced. Its involvement in marketing is now minimal; it provides truck transport services charging market prices. Private traders ensure the actual marketing, even though a proper self financed system has not been established for marketing on a larger scale. The project should be commended for taking steps to acquire better information on marketing opportunities.
The extension unit serves three districts in seven extension routes and is responsible for a large portion of project activities and operating costs. Six extension workers, including one woman, provide advice for the cultivation of permanent fields, vegetable gardens and poultry practices. PADREM has not yet begun to pay sufficient attention to gender issues. But the female extension officer has introduced among women, a participatory group based extension approach; such approaches need to be introduced by all the officers.
Drinking water component
This was a successful component and the performance was commendable. Fifteen villages have been furnished with wells or springs for domestic water use. This component was completed in September 1992, almost on schedule. Villagers contributed in kind towards construction, providing labor and local construction materials. The setting up of a competent well digging team by the project should be regarded as an achievement.
This was an important component, but performance was not in line with expectations. Basic training was provided to the national co-director, the UNV accountant and short training in Cameroon for the UNV and the counterpart for the drinking water program. Extension workers also received training, but courses were shorter than needed and as planned for in the SAR and PLANOP documents. The national staff did not receive training in methods of diagnostics and simple experimentation. The performance in providing training is not satisfactory, since resources and opportunities for training were available.
Selling of tools and inputs
The project operates three stores in the region. They sell basic tools and inputs to small farmers like machetes, hoes, axes, shovels, boots, seeds. Total sales for 1988-1992 amount to USD 115 000, and which proceeds are deposited into a revolving fund; this fund was intended to maintain support to farmers when the current project comes to an end.
Studies and support surveys
Several studies were envisaged to support technical assistance, provide basic information for components, like water supply and to be carried out for monitoring and evaluation purposes. But, only the ex-ante survey was undertaken.
In reviewing implementation performance, the special circumstances of this project need to be understood. It is true that project execution was made difficult because of the isolation of the project area in the far north-east corner of the mainland. With a distance of 360 km even to the nearest urban center, where banking services can be found (Bata), contacts with MoA and government agencies were limited. Supply of services was often interrupted. Disbursements were delayed. Typically, repeated small consignments were purchased and procurement has been time consuming and cumbersome. Bulk purchases in Cameroon were not always adequate.
In the initial years, the main issues in implementation were staff related. The UNVs and counterpart staff arrived late, and this applies also to the housing and offices provided, and to the transportation equipment procured. Although the project Director was nominated promptly, the Co-director was not appointed until September 1987, a year later; remaining national staff were mobilized only between December 1987 and April 1989. The first Project Director (TA) did not succeed to establish smooth working relationships with his project staff, nor with the Project Coordinator in MOA in Malabo. The insufficient liaison caused many difficulties; e.g. issues arose over contracts and salaries of the national employees.
Moreover, the Government did not provide its share of counterpart funds for project operating and maintenance costs. Finally, these problems were compounded by dismal accounting procedures: the project accounting system did not begin to operate in line with expectations until 1989. With limited capabilities, the Government did little to guide or resolve issues emerging during implementation.
This adverse environment affected not only implementation negatively, but may explain, at least in part, the absence of guidance on project strategy. Perhaps, the project management was simply overwhelmed by daily project execution issues. Nevertheless, it remains that the project management staff was not well selected in terms of their technical skills and overall suitability.
Technical assistance was not in line with expectations and the contract has terminated. A Guinean Co-director is currently acting Director. The UNVs performed satisfactorily but, overall, technical assistance personnel did not possess the required skills to train the national staff in methods of participation and trial design.
Project objectives were only partly accomplished perhaps in part because external conditions were difficult. The project concept and design was never fully translated into a set of operational guidelines and ensuing project activities. Economic, institutional and infrastructure conditions prevailing in the region and country, contributed to results that are not in line with expectations. In retrospect, the understandable common preoccupation with delays in procurement and disbursements and with financial discipline in accounting may have preempted the needed more analytical efforts to take stock of the project, to assess its overall direction and speed of achievements.
Impact on regional agricultural development
(a) The impact of the project has been less than expected. The project as implemented did not follow the original strategy reflected in the SAR and the PLANOP design. It did not support as expected the main traditional field crops; the original recommendations in the SAR for crops, varieties and rotations were not tested. The required socio-economic studies were not undertaken with which to understand better the socio-economic conditions in the region. These omissions represent a fundamental weakness in implementation.
(b) The current shifting cultivation in Equatorial Guinea, as elsewhere, is an efficient method of production at low population density; the project and its technical advisors prematurely promoted an accelerated intensification and the use of fertilizer.
(c) The project, while failing to find viable alternatives to shifting cultivation, has shown the potential for vegetables. It has demonstrated that there is an emergent market demand for vegetables. While goat raising in enclosures was a failure, poultry production has become an important production line: the market demand for eggs is growing.
(d) The project's extension efforts assisted producers to become more aware of market conditions and expected returns. Producers were taught to understand better market demand, to consider quality of produce as well as marketing channels, transport and road conditions. The project has revealed the various obstacles that producers and the region need to surmount to take advantage of natural resources and markets.
(e) Participatory processes in extension have been largely non-existent and lessons have been learned through a painful and socially costly process. The project while not performing in line with expectations, gradually has begun to slowly charter a course for future agricultural production. Lessons are being learned, but at the cost of failures in crops and goat production and resulting discontent. At least initially, participants lost confidence in the competence of those guiding the project. There is certainly a popularly felt demand for basing a potential second project on a strategy and project design that reflects farmer participation and feed back and far more solid technical advice and a technically competent supervision.
(f) Food security has improved mainly through the successful vegetable cultivation and poultry production. Output gains are limited except for egg production. The latter is particularly important since Equatorial Guinea is a net importer. For example, two years ago the region and the Bata market depended heavily on eggs from Cameroon.
(g) The project represents the most important institution building effort in the region. It has started, albeit too slowly, to provide the needed applied research on crop techniques and fallow period reduction. A second project, better managed, must permit farmers to reap the benefits of applied and adaptive research; the teaching-learning process about improved cultivation practices needs to be differently designed.
(h) The revolving fund created by the selling of tools was innovative and timely. In absence of a credit/banking system, the project provided the only source of working capital for the acquisition of basic tools and inputs. To an extent, in the case of assistance to poultry producers, it operated as a short term credit outlet to farmers. In light of difficult communications and associated delays in fund release - although contrary to purpose - this revolving fund also permitted the project to operate with sufficient working capital and to avoid a stand still.
(i) The project also subsidized transport and marketing of agricultural produce. It has prepared the ground for the taking over by private agents of these activities in the near future.
(j) The project introduced poultry feed processing. A small plant to produce poultry feed is successfully operating, although it still depends on concentrated animal protein, vitamins and minerals imported from Cameroon. Privatization has been envisaged and should be encouraged.
Subsidies and sustainability of interventions
While subsidies possibly were needed at the outset as an incentive, producers have demonstrated that some activities like egg and vegetable production are profitable. Raised marketed production of eggs and vegetables and the involvement of private traders, attest to the sustainability of the support provided.
Impact on environment
The dominant system of shifting agriculture may create a potential environment hazard unless production technology is improved. At current population density and technology, a family requires about 25 ha. for actual cultivation and fallow (soil fertility regeneration). A land constraint will ultimately develop as a consequence of population growth, unless appropriate technology for intensified agriculture is provided. The ensuing deforestation will negatively affect the environment. The project has begun to search for paths for better agricultural practices and intensification, which would allow higher output without endangering the environment.
Impact on income
With RRDH (Rapid Rural Diagnostic for Households) information, it was estimated that marketed vegetable production has contributed not less than 33 % of family cash income. In comparison, the income from permanent fields is entirely negligible.
Impact on nutrition
An undisputed achievement of the project is its impact on nutrition and on diet diversification: the quantity and quality of food intake has improved.
Impact of drinking water component
Drinking water has improved in quality and availability, and the incidence of water borne diseases has fallen. The time and effort spent in fetching water by women and children has fallen. According to the RRDG (Rapid Rural Diagnostic for Groups), women living in villages with a well opened by the project, spent 10 minutes for water provision, compared to 30 to 45 minutes for those living in villages without a well.
Impact on gender division of labor
(a) The status of family food production agriculture has improved in the Fang culture that prevails in the project area. The emergence of vegetables as an important cash crop, once coffee and cacao disappeared, has triggered a revision of cultural values. During the interviews for the RRDH, several men referred proudly to their vegetable production. Since women labor is the limiting factor, this is an important achievement for future agricultural development.
(b) Women allocate their resources in line with rewards although they are constrained by customs. A sign of warning, nevertheless, is the increase in women's daily labor. Cultivation in the vegetable gardens and permanent fields has increased women's daily labor burden by 2,5 hours; women's participation in project activities was estimated at 17,5 hours, compared to their normal working day of 14 to 15 hours.
(c) On the positive side, women's participation in project activities has given a higher cultural status to their labor. The mission survey undertaken suggests that there is more family harmony when the woman provides cash to the family.
The loan and the grant are administered by the UNDP Office for Project Services - OPS. It is true that there were logistical difficulties in supervising this project. But, nevertheless, the supervision of the project did not perform in line with expectations. The supervision missions did not pay attention to the original project concept and the objectives as set out in the SAR. Equally serious, the supervision missions did not detect and correct emerging issues related to the project's faulty methodology for promoting interventions directly at the farm level without trials and experimentation. The required type of technical agro-economic advice for technology improvement within shifting cultivation systems was not furnished.
Neither did the supervision missions propose measures to ensure sustainability of project activities.
Project results, although modest and not in line with those initially expected, have begun to charter the course for future development. The location of the project offers promise in terms of potential across borders trade. The project area is located in the most densely populated area on the mainland. Its vicinity to markets in Cameroon and Gabon facilitates agricultural production and an export led growth. The potential demand for agricultural produce/food across the border exceeds the region's current supply capacity. Climate and temperature conditions are favorable for expanding agricultural production. However, supply is constrained by limited labor and several non appropriate inputs and practices; solutions require applied research and a different extension approach. Production capacity can be increased through better seeds, cropping practices, soil fertility conservation practices, improved transport and road facilities, introduction of new crops, higher returns to labor for men and women, and support for village and private sector participation.
The mission therefore recommends:
Consideration of a new project for the region
The experiences to date provide a base for redesign and improvement of support services. But it is likely that the Government sector will remain institutionally weak and underfunded. Moreover, prospects for a more successful future development of the area will depend largely to the extent to which a new project could devise, test and diffuse to farmers, simple ways of increasing labor productivity and income. This means a more active role for applied research; a far more participatory approach within extension and training. More reliance will have to be placed on inducing villagers' organizations and the private sector to become more active in local development. A future project must become far more active as a catalytic agent in development. The current methodology for adaptive research, extension and feed back from farmers and participants is not satisfactory.
Development path for the region
The current project has been tied to a limited number of activities and crops. It is true that its role is not just to meet production targets or reaching a number of beneficiaries, but to devise the path for the agricultural development of the region. The project should establish the rationale and priorities for the support of new and traditional crops, processing and market support. Only agricultural activities which are proven by market studies and confirmed by farmer managed on-farm trials should be supported. The plan for research and extension should reflect economic criteria and expected socio-economic benefits to participating households.
Capturing the potential for an export led growth
The mission recommends that studies of demand for produce across the borders be undertaken and IFAD initiatives in this direction are commendable. Such studies should identify as a matter of priority also so called non tariff barriers to increasing the across border trade from the project area. A dialogue should be entered into with the Government on how to diminish or eliminate the incidence of any non tariff barriers that will be reported on through such studies.
To begin with, before final design of a possible second project, farmers must be informed about the development strategy proposed, expected project objectives and modalities of implementation. The design must emphasize participation from initial design through need assessments and a dialogue with farmers to on-farm trials and feed back in extension. The few well performing permanent fields may be used as demonstrations or sites for group meetings. The vital distinction between pure demonstration plots and actual independent on-farm adoption must become transparent. Farmers should agree to the design of demonstration plots. If labor is required to set up and manage demonstration plots, such labor should be compensated.
New crops for permanent fields
The project strategy needs to redefine the crops and practices introduced on the permanent fields as well as the purpose of these fields. New crops and additional crop rotation patterns, and not only maize and beans, must be tested in the permanent field. In addition to composting or mulching, other methods to keep the fertility of soils must be tried, e.g. legume crops, rotations and inter-cropping. Soybeans, sorghum, peanuts, and most crops that are currently found in the traditional fields, should be tested in the permanent fields.
For the remaining project period, and for a possible future project, the traditional field must become an important component. There would be substantial gains if improved seeds for these crops are introduced together with technology and practices to raise labor productivity. Rice has been ignored by the project and should be introduced through on-farm trials. If simple rice huskers are installed, post harvest labor constraints could be easily overcome. Rice could become an important crop in the project area.
The project should investigate the scope for supporting in the future small livestock production (pigs, goats and sheep). The accumulation of small livestock represents an important path for capital accumulation.
Elimination of subsidies on inputs and in marketing
Elimination of subsidies would ensure that crops and practices actually adopted reflect true producer and consumer preferences. Marketing and transport were carried out entirely by the project and producers were heavily subsidized. Inputs like seeds, fertilizers and chemicals were handed to villagers without payment. This strategy is being modified: the project is currently marketing only a fraction of produce; it charges for transport services and for inputs. But, from now on, marketing must be of a different kind: the project must completely phase out its direct intervention and only provide general market information; its role should be to identify potential markets, and to furnish practical information for village organizations and private entrepreneurs.
Applied research in a participatory mode
New crops and techniques must be tested first on-station and subsequently through farmer managed on-farm trials. Information and data must be registered for every trial, so as to record treatments, yields and reasons for success or failure. Results from these protocols must be discussed with farmers, males and females, and their respective comments and responses should be recorded.
Road construction component
Roads need to be improved and a future project needs to improve tertiary roads; drifts and small bridges also need to be constructed and participation of villagers and their organizations should be sought both for building and maintenance.
Broaden the concept of extension
Besides agriculture, extension agents must work on activities related to women'_ involvement in production. A dialogue should be established between farmers and agents; the latter should look carefully into traditional plot practices and techniques. Rotation, inter-cropping, soil fertility and alternative sources to maintain fertility and yields at sustainable levels, must be part of the new agenda. This implies a broader concept of extension and training of agents that would include also women's labor in post harvesting and household maintenance activities.
Labor loads of women
Technical assistance and extension agents should seek to alleviate the intensive work performed by women. The role of women in post harvest activities should also be reviewed and the feasibility of introducing simple processing equipment should be investigated.
Drinking water wells
This program met its objectives and was terminated in September 1992. Villages are satisfied with these wells. The project possesses a well trained team and equipment in good working condition. Unicef has a program for 90 wells for the mainland, but there is an excess demand. The new project should set up a mechanism for generating higher levels of contributions from participants for the well construction as well as for maintenance.
The general health conditions of the rural population is not satisfactory even though the incidence of water borne diseases has fallen with the construction of the project supported well program. Villagers report health as one of their major problems. A future project should enroll a NGO to improve health conditions in the area.
Increased training efforts
(a) Training methodology
The broad strategy outlined requires an intensive training of the extension personnel, at least one well designed study tour, and a series of visits by a trainer. For the present project, training has been shorter than expected and programmed. In the future, training at all levels must be an important part of the resources assigned. The project specific training must be linked, and integrated, with other nation wide training that the government is implementing.
(b) Emphasis in training
The future project staff must be well trained and exposed to methods of diagnosis and economic analysis as well as to techniques for participation and empowerment. The previous command approach to development must be replaced with an approach that is geared to soliciting farmers for their own agenda. Means to this end comprise the application of farm budgets and economic analysis together with diagnostic surveys, monitoring of adoption rates, applied research and farmer managed on-farm trials. The manpower profile of future project staff must incorporate economic and technical skills in farm budget analysis and in the conducting of rapid diagnostic studies.
An audit of the project is a required precondition before a follow-on project can be approved.
Project supervision of a possible second phase project would have to pay far more attention to reviewing (i) processes for training extension staff in participatory methods of quantitative diagnostics and feed back from farmers; (ii) agro-economic analysis of shifting cultivation systems; and (iii) the maintenance of financial discipline and accountancy standards.
Programme Spécial National I Volet CES-DRS
Résumé du rapport d'évaluation intermédiaire
Le PSN est constitué de trois sous programmes ou "volets" répartis dans cinq zones d'intervention ou "unités de terrain" (UT) très dispersées et hétérogènes et constituant autant de projets localisés de dimensions modestes: la petite irrigation -23% du coût de base (c.b.) - dans les vallées du Niger (département de Tillabéri) et de la Komadougou-Yobé (département de Diffa), la Conservation des eaux et du sol/Défense et restauration des sols (CES/DRS) -17% c.b.- dans l'arrondissement d'Illela (département de Tahoua, UT de Badaguichéri), et enfin le volet développement pastoral - 20% c.b.- à Tchintabaraden (département de Tahoua) et Tchirozérine (département d'Agadez). Des actions complémentaires de recherche appliquée - 10 % c.b.- et de crédit - 13% c.b.- devaient soutenir l'exécution du programme.
Seuls les volets CES/DRS et petite irrigation ont été évalués en 1993. Le volet développement pastoral n'a pu l'être pour des raisons de sécurité. Ce résumé concerne l'évaluation du volet CES/DRS.
L'UT de Badaguichéri (arrondissement d'Illela) est constitué par un vaste plateau de grès ferrugineux entaillé par trois profondes vallées. La pluviométrie moyenne est de 450 mm. Traditionnellement, la plaine alluviale (sols argilo-calcaire) est cultivée en mil et les plateaux réservés aux troupeaux avec quelques ilots de cultures. La pression démographique a conduit au défrichement rapide des plateaux, à une concurrence de plus en plus grande entre activités pastorales et agricoles et donc à des conflits agriculteurs-éleveurs. Le potentiel agricole de la zone, autrefois important, est en danger. La zone est désormais déficitaire en céréales. Confrontée à une baisse de la pluviométrie et à une forte dégradation des ressources foncières, fourragères et ligneuses, la population active masculine se livre à un exode saisonnier systématique, indispensable à la survie des ménages mais qui diminue d'autant la capacité locale de réaction à la crise du système agraire.
Conception et objectifs du projet
Le groupe cible est, comme pour l'ensemble du Programme relativement indifférencié, constitué par l'ensemble de la population rurale communément menacée par les aléas climatiques et le processus de désertification.
L'objectif spécifique de ce volet pilote et expérimental est la conservation des eaux et des sols pour optimiser l'utilisation des ressources hydriques. Il permettra l'assistance au gouvernement pour déterminer une politique et une stratégie de conservation des eaux et des sols et un mécanisme de soutien approprié.
Les composantes sont:
l'introduction, à titre pilote, sur environ 3.000 ha de terres agricoles, de techniques locales améliorées de CES qui permettraient de remettre en exploitation 1.000 ha abandonnés sur les 3.000 ha aménagés.Il est prévu que 1.500 agriculteurs appliquent les techniques de CES (cordons de pierres, demi-lunes, billons, paillage et brise vent) sur 2.500 ha au niveau de leurs exploitations. Hors exploitation, 500 ha seront traités par des techniques telles que murets en pierres et billons, fixation de dunes, traitement de koris par plantations, barrages en pierres sèches, seuils et épis en gabions et brise-vents.
la réhabilitation de terres dégradées sur une superficie de 500 ha grâce à des techniques simples permettant de mettre à l'épreuve de nouveaux systèmes de lutte contre le ravinement.
la création d'une pépinière à Illela d'une capacité de production de 25.000 plants. 50 pépinières villageoises, d'une capacité de 500 plants chacune seront installées à partir de la troisième année.
La vulgarisation (information, formation, réalisation de films vidéo) ainsi que le soutien aux villageois pour le travail d'aménagement à fournir (rémunération ou incitation) devait permettre la réalisation de ce volet. Un programme de recherche apliquée devait permettre de déterminer l'impact des techniques de conservation sur la production. Un système de suivi-évaluation basé sur des enquêtes socio-économiques devait être mis en oeuvre.
Sur le plan agricole, on prévoyait une augmentation des rendements de 50% et une production supplémentaire sur 2.500 ha de 500 tonnes de mil/sorgho et de près de 200 t de niébé. Le revenu net des exploitants devait augmenter de 60-70%. Et, le programme devait produire des effets bénéfiques sur l'emploi grâce à l'accroissement de la production et au renforcement de l'activité économique locale. Enfin, pour ce qui concerne l'environnement, on prévoyait des effets positifs considérables découlant de la bonification de terres non utilisées, du reboisement et de la mise en oeuvre des techniques de conservation.
Le projet faisait l'hypothèse que des échanges entre producteurs de la zone du projet et les bénéficiaires de projets similaires au Burkina permettraient de convaincre les agriculteurs d'adopter des techniques insuffisamment rentables à court terme.
Les 4 premières années du PSN ont coincidé avec de profonds changements dans la situation politique qui ont abouti à une réforme constitutionnelle et à l'instauration de la IIIème République. Marqués par des grèves et des manifestations contre le régime, les évènements politiques ont paralysé l'action gouvernementale pendant une partie des années 90 et 91 ainsi que le fonctionnement de l'administration. Ils ont aussi perturbé l'activité économique du pays.
Pour la période 1989 - mi 93, les réalisations en matière de CES/DRS ont porté sur près de 2.700 ha soit 90% des prévisions. Cependant, la répartition par type d'ouvrage ou de traitement est très différente de celle initiallement prévue. Les aménagements anti-érosifs durables et en particulier les cordons de pierres ont été inférieurs aux prévisions (540 ha au lieu de 2.300 ha), alors que les tassa, plus assimilables à une technique culturale qu'à des aménagements ont connus un succès certain (1 342 ha). 335 ha de demi-lunes ont été réalisés sur 320 ha prévus. Les migrations saisonnières ont empêché les ménages les plus pauvres de réaliser ces aménagements. Le taux de réalisation doit être pondéré par la quantité de travail mobilisé sur les différents types d'aménagements. En terme d'effort d'investissement des participants, on aboutit alors à un taux de réalisation par rapport aux objectifs de l'ordre de 70%.
Des fosses fumières qui n'étaient pas prévues (75) ont été réalisées. Leur diffusion est limitée par la quantité de bétail possédée par concession et la faiblesse des moyens de transport disponibles. Ces fosses sont aménagées par une minorité de paysans aisés.
La production de plans en pépinière a très largement dépassé les prévisions (718.000 plants produits contre 25.000 prévus. Les plants produits ont été utilisés pour le traitement biologique des koris (74 km de plantations le long des koris) et pour le reboisement de 1.723 ha pour la production de bois de feu, de construction et de protection des champs privés (haies vives). Les aménagements sylvo-pastoraux ont permis la regénération de 202 ha de terres de parcours.
La "rémunération" ou "incitation" aux travaux collectifs de CES/DRS a atteint, à mi-1993, 188,4 millions de FCFA répartis en construction d'infrastructures (3 dispensaires, 19 écoles, 2 magasins, 51 puits maraichers), petit outillage et rations PAM.
Un film vidéo a été tourné avec les paysans. C'est une forme de diffusion autonome très forte mais peu utilisée car jugée "folklorique" par la direction.
Des essais instructifs ont été réalisés en milieu controlé sur les stations de Nadara et de Salama (fertilisation, densités de tassa et de demi-lunes). Par contre aucune recherche n'a été entreprise sur les aménagements sylvo-pastoraux ni sur les effets antiérosifs des différentes techniques de conservation mises en pratique.
Bénéficiaires: Le programme a touché un grand nombre de villages (75 sur 141), mais guère plus de 1.200 exploitants, soit moins de 10% du nombre d'exploitants dans les villages participants. Il apparaît que la plupart des exploitations bénéficiaires sont d'une taille supérieure à la moyenne des exploitations de la zone et d'un statut social relativement élevé. Les ménages les plus pauvres ne disposent pas d'une force de travail suffisante en saison sèche pour s'engager dans des travaux d'aménagement lourds. Pour les exploitations ayant adopté les techniques recommandées, la superficie aménagée est de 35 à 45% de la superficie cultivée. Au niveau de l'arrondissement, la proportion de terres aménagées par le programme sur l'ensemble des terres cultivées en mil est de l'ordre de 2%.
On estime que l'augmentation de superficie cultivée due à la remise en état de terres dégradées grâce aux aménagements du projet est de l'ordre de 1.300 ha de mil. Les tassa et les demi-lunes améliorent incontestablement les rendements de mil et en réduisent légèrement la variabilité inter-annuelle. Pour les ménages concernés, le disponible vivrier augmenterait de 30 à 50% selon les années soit 350 à 850 t de mil additionnelles par an pour 1.200 exploitations.
Il est difficile d'évaluer l'effet de ce volet sur l'ensemble de la zone car beaucoup d'exploitants, spontanément, en dehors de l'intervention directe de l'UT (mais en s'inspirant des méthodes qu'elle a diffusé) ont réalisé des tassas et des demi-lunes. L'importance de ce phénomène n'a pas été suivie.
Effets du projet sur l'environnement et sur la base de ressource: le PSN a initié une dynamique importante dans l'amélioration des pratiques culturales tendant à optimiser l'utilisation des ressources en eau, à conserver les sols et à remettre en culture des terres abandonnées. Mais, il n'a pas encore permis de restaurer les paturages. Or, leur dégradation a des conséquences biologiques: défaut de germination voire diminution des stocks semenciers des espèces fourragères quand les zones dégradées sont trop étendues.
Appréciation de la durabilité du projet: le déséquilibre entre aménagements réalisés sur exploitation et hors exploitation ne permet pas d'établir un équilibre durable entre les systèmes de production agro-sylvo-pastoraux et les ressources des terroirs (voir para 20).
Des mesures incitatives mal conçues et peu efficaces
Les exploitants les plus pauvres, contraints à l'exode, n'ont pu réaliser des aménagements en demi-lunes ou tassa sur leurs champs. L'assurance d'une sécurité alimentaire sous forme de contrat d'aménagements avec compensation provisoire en vivres ou en numéraire aurait pu limiter l'exode saisonnier des actifs masculins. De même, en ce qui concerne les travaux collectifs, leur rémunération sous forme d'infrastructures communautaires, si utiles soient elles ne compense pas l'insuffisance des ressources des familles comme le ferait la rémunération sous forme de vivres. Elle exige par contre une contribution de la main d'oeuvre villageoise qui a déjà du mal à se mobiliser sur les travaux anti-érosifs. En plus du manque de main d'oeuvre en saison sèche, l'insuffisance de fumure organique pour les cultures représente la principale contrainte à l'augmentation des tassa et des demi-lunes qui ne couvrent pour l'instant qu'une infime partie des champs cultivés de l'arrondissement. Or, les agriculteurs sont convaincus de l'utilité de la fumure organique mais limités par un effectif de bétail insuffisant, la rareté des moyens de transport et l'inexistence des fosses fumières (qui nécessitent elle-même des moyens de transport, des ressources en eau et une disponibilité en main d'oeuvre).
Cependant, on constate que les dépenses d'"intéressement" du projet sont élevées: 188,4 millions de FCFA soit 1.250 FCFA par h/j en tenant compte de la totalité des travaux effectués y compris les tassa sur champs individuels. Mais, elles ont concerné pour les 2/3 (120,8 millions de FCFA) la construction d'infrastructures communautaires. Les distribution de vivres PAM (23% des dépenses) ont été très inégalement réparties sans que cette répartition corresponde aux quantités de travaux effectués. Exception faite du petit outillage (13% des dépenses, 24,3 millions de FCFA), les dépenses effectuées n'ont pas concerné des investissements complémentaires des travaux de CES comme les charettes et puits villageois. L'inadéquation des mesures incitatives aux besoins des exploitants limite d'autant la portée du programme.
Un déséquilibre entre les aménagements réalisés "sur exploitation" et "hors exploitation"
Il a suscité l'intérêt des agriculteurs pour les techniques préconisées parce qu'elles apportaient une réponse à leurs préocupations immédiates: raréfaction et dégradation des terres, baisse des rendements et des productions et au total augmentation de la pauvreté et de l'insécurité alimentaire. Mais, le PSN n'est pas encore parvenu à mobiliser les villages pour une action d'ensemble en matière de CES/DRS, agroforesterie, gestion des parcours et hydraulique visant à préserver ou rétablir un équilibre durable entre les systèmes de production agro-sylvo-pastoraux et les ressources des terroirs. Si cette lacune n'est pas comblée, les efforts du PSN pour améliorer les techniques culturales trouveront rapidement leurs limites.
Bailleur de fonds et autorités doivent définir leurs objectifs. La restauration des paturages sera forcément plus chère que celles des champs existants. Les terres de pacage étaient dévolue au bétail en raison même de leur structure peu propice aux cultures. Leur dégradation est donc en général à un stade plus avancé que celle des champs: glacis, croutage épais.
Par ailleurs, si un agriculteur peut s'attacher à la restauration de son champ, les paturages restent du domaine public et dépendent des usages pré-existants. On a peu de chance de susciter une intervention privée sans une incitation particulière. Or, à terme, la dégradation des terres de paturages risque de conduire à une catastrophe pour les éleveurs et à une crise socio-politique dont le coût est démesuré.
La mission recommande clairement la poursuite de l'intervention du PSN dans l'arrondissement d'Illela au cours d'une seconde phase. La méthode d'intervention devrait cependant être largement modifiée.
Au-delà de l'effet sur la production de céréales, les mesures de CES ont aussi pour résultat de contribuer à la sauvegarde du milieu naturel, mais uniquement sur les espaces cultivés. Or c'est l'ensemble du territoire qui doit être concerné par les mesures de conservation. C'est dans ce sens que doit être réorienté le volet CES/DRS qui a eu, jusqu'à présent, peu d'écho en matière de travaux collectifs de protection/restauration du milieu et de gestion des ressources.
Etant donné l'ampleur des travaux à réaliser en matière de CES/DRS, de réarborisation des terroirs, d'aménagement de l'espace agro-pastoral et la persistance des déficits alimentaires et de l'exode saisonnier, un fort appui extérieur apparaît inévitable pendant une phase de réhabilitation et de reconstitution des ressources. Cet appui extérieur devrait consister:
i) d'une part, en garantie d'une certaine sécurité alimentaire pour les ménages renonçant à l'exode saisonnier pour aménager leurs terres;
ii) d'autre part, en subvention partielle d'équipements et d'infrastructures directement ou indirectement liés au nouveau système de production à développer, charrettes et puits en priorité.
L'élaboration d'une nouvelle méthodologie d'action du volet serait axée sur les principes suivants:
i) L'identification des formes d'organisation paysannes avec lesquelles le PSN doit dialoguer. Pour cela, l'UT doit approfondir sa connaissance des communautés villageoises de sa zone d'intervention pour déterminer les collectivités (villages, GM, groupes d'agriculteurs, groupes de femmes) avec lesquelles un partenariat peut être établi;
ii) l'établissement d'un partenariat avec les villages et la concertation avec les principaux utilisateurs du territoire.
iii) le choix concerté sur les modes d'appui les plus propices pour permettre une forte mobilisation des villageois. Pour les aménagements sur exploitation, le problème n'est pas tant celui de l'"incitation" ou de la "rémunération" - demi-lunes, cordons pierreux et tassa ont un effet reconnu sur la production - que celui d'une compensation provisoire permettant à une population en situation de déficit vivrier de rester au village et de consacrer la saison sèche à des travaux d'aménagement non générateurs des revenus nécessaires pour faire face à la période de soudure.
Pour les aménagements hors exploitation d'intérêt général, il s'agit de trouver les formes d'incitation ou de stimulation qui soient en rapport de synergie le plus étroit possible avec les actions de protection/gestion des ressources.
La gestion de l'aide alimentaire pour la participation aux travaux collectifs devrait être confiée aux communautés villageoises, sous contrôle du PSN.
Toutes les formes d'appui ou de subvention devraient être clairement conditionnées et leur caractère transitoire explicité sous une forme contractuelle et programmative négociée avec les villageois. En clair, des plans d'aménagement de terroirs devraient être élaborés par les villageois, avec l'appui et les conseils d'équipes pluridisciplinaires, et faire l'objet de contrats de partenariat avec l'UT. Appuis extérieurs et subvention devraient être programmés de manière dégressive en fonction des progrès réalisés. Une des conditions fortes des appuis de l'UT devrait être un effort majeur de réarborisation des terres cultivées (et pas seulement des ASP collectifs) sous forme de complantations, de haies vives, de brise-vents, etc.
Enfin, et quels que soient les efforts d'aménagement de terroirs qui pourront être réalisés, il faut ouvrir des perspectives extra-agricoles à une partie croissante de la population rurale que ne pourra plus supporter la base de ressources agro-pastorales. La deuxième phase du PSN devrait comprendre un volet d'appui au développement des activités secondaires et tertiaires dans les bourgs et les plus gros villages de l'arrondissement.
Dans les régions agricoles sahéliennes et soudano-shéliennes les plus peuplées où la jachère n'a plus place, une fertilisation organique accrue des terres cultivées est une nécessité impérative pour le maintien à long terme ou la reconstitution de la fertilité des sols. la supériorité agronomique du fumier sur la poudrette traditionnellement utilisée est généralement reconnue par les agriculteurs. Mais, l'utilisation des fosses fumières rencontre trois obstacles majeurs: des difficultés de remplissage lorsque l'exploitation ne possède pas ou ne garde pas de bovins, des difficultés d'arrosage en saison sèche du fait de la distance et du faible débit des puits, des difficultés de transport (pour l'apport de matière première, l'arrosage et le transfert aux champs) du fait de la rareté des charettes et du coût élevé de leur location. Une action de promotion de la fertilisation organique ne peut se limiter à la vulgarisation technique ou à l'incitation à creuser des fosses; elle doit comprendre des appuis à l'équipement en transport attelé, au fonçage des puits ou forages et à la stabulation du bétail, faute de quoi les fosses fumières restent inexploitables, en particulier pour les paysans les plus pauvres dont les terres continueront à se dégrader.
Les résultats obtenus par le PSN à Badaguichéri confirment l'intérêt des tassa/zai et des demi-lunes pour l'amélioration des rendements et la sécurisation des récoltes de céréales en zone sahélienne fortement dégradée. Ces techniques culturales ont un effet immédiat et visible sur la production et sont bien adoptées par une partie des exploitations disposant d'une force de travail suffisante en saison sèche et de quantités importantes de fumier ou poudrette. Dans cette catégorie d'exploitation, on peut raisonnablement espérer une diffusion durable de ces techniques sans incitations exogènes. Par contre, les aménagements durables mais n'ayant pas un effet direct et immédiat sur la production individuelle, tels que les aménagements sylvo-pastoraux collectifs, les ouvrages anti-érosifs hors champs et la réarborisation des terroirs, travaux exigeants en main d'oeuvre et peu rentables à court terme, constituent des investissements à la fois indispensables à la réhabilitation des terroirs dégradés et hors de portée des villageois en l'absence d'appuis extérieurs importants (outillage, moyens de transport, vivres).
Du PSN dans son ensemble, on peut dire qu'en Afrique sahélienne, le ciblage social des actions de développement rural par selection/exclusion de bénéficiaires en fonction de critères socio-économiques (revenus, superficie de l'exploitation, etc.) n'est généralement pas applicable dans la pratique, ni même souhaitable, au sein des communautés villageoises. Ce ciblage lorsque qu'il a lieu d'être, doit être conçu en termes d'adéquation des actions et services proposés aux activités et aux contraintes spécifiques des catégories défavorisées constituant les "groupes cibles du FIDA". La définition du groupe cible ne peut se limiter à la spécification d'un revenu moyen ou d'une superficie maximun. Elle doit comporter une analyse des rapports de production, de la dynamique des systèmes de production agricoles et non agricoles en présence, et des processus d'accumulation et de paupérisation. Une telle analyse permet de comprendre non seulement les causes de la pauvreté mais aussi les contraintes auxquelles sont confrontés les pauvres dans leur tentative d'auto-promotion économique et sociale. Elle autorise une définition opérationnelle du groupe cible débouchant logiquement sur l'action et garantissant la pertinence (adéquation) de cette action.
Du PSN dans son ensemble, on peut dire qu'en Afrique sahélienne, le ciblage social des actions de développement rural par selection/exclusion de bénéficiaires en fonction de critères socio-économiques (revenus, superficie de l'exploitation, etc.) n'est généralement pas applicable dans la pratique, ni même souhaitable, au sein des communautés villageoises. Ce ciblage lorsque qu'il a lieu d'être, doit être conçu en termes d'adéquation des actions et services proposés aux activités et aux contraintes spécifiques des catégories défavorisées constituant les "groupes cibles du FIDA". La définition du groupe cible ne peut se limiter à la spécification d'un revenu moyen ou d'une superficie maximun. Elle doit comporter une analyse des rapports de production, de la dynamique des systèmes de production agricoles et non agricoles en présence, et des processus d'accumulation et de paupérisation. Une telle analyse permet de comprendre non seulement les causes de la pauvreté mais aussi les contraintes auxquelles sont confrontés les pauvres dans leur tentative d'auto-promotion économique et sociale. Elle autorise une définition opérationnelle du groupe cible débouchant logiquement sur l'action et garantissant la pertinence (adéquation) de cette action.
Special Programme for SWC/AGF in the Central Plateau
The project area covers four of the Central Plateau's seven provinces: Yatenga, Passoré (northern CRPA), Bam and Sanmatenga (north-central CRPA) and more precisely 12 departments (over 39) wich are not beneficiaries of other projects. It is one of the most unfavorable area of the country because of the soils' poverty and because of the high population density. The overexploitation of soils and the deforestation have led to a global environmental degradation, to a decrease of the productive potential (agriculture, livestock and forest) and to an increase of out-migration.
The households (average 10 persons) cultivating about 4 ha, mainly millet and sorghum represents 91% of the total population of the Central Plateau. The target group is constituited by 13.400 of this type of household. Part of the credit component is specifically targeted to women.
The purpose of the project is to rehabilitate the environment and make it more suitable for agricultural production with a view to: achieving food security and stemming the massive out-migration of the young working-age population; improving women's incomes and living standards and reducing their workload; promoting local organizations, especially savings and credit associations in order to ensure the continuity of the actions initiated under the Programme.
The Programme comprises the following six components:
i) Cropland Development (SWC): the establishment of four mobile support teams (EMA), including trucks, tractors, pickups and topographical equipment, and the provision of site tools and carts to the Farmers Associations (GV) for erosion control bunding, with EMA support. The objective was to develop 38 250 ha over six years: 28 000 ha in the saturated parts of the village croplands (champs de village) and 10 250 ha of outfield plots (champs de brousse);
ii) Agroforestry (AGF): The establishment of village nurseries, and vegetative coverage of erosion control bunds combined with tree planting on the plots. The objective was to rehabilitate 10% of the champs de village areas covered by SWC (i.e. 2 800 ha).
iii) Crop Intensification (IA): The establishment of compost pits (by the farmers) and a revolving fund for the provision, on credit, of NPK fertiliser, natural phosphate (BPh) and fungicides. The aim was to intensify 20% of the areas covered by SWC.
iv) Research and Development (RD): Support to national research institutes (INERA and IRBET) for parallel research on SWC, AGF and IA.
v) Village Development Fund (rural credit): The purpose of this Fund, managed by a Government-controlled financial agency in collaboration with the local savings and credit associations (COOPEC), is to finance the development of "agriculture related economic activities", especially for women, and to strengthen women's incorporation in the COOPECs.
vi) Institutional Strengthening (IS): The establishment of a Programme Management Unit (PMU), in charge of the programming and supervision of the Programme's technical support and monitoring and evaluation activities; the strengthening of the Agriculture Ministry's extension services (ex-ORD) in the programme area; and the provision of support to the NGO coordination Office.
The expected impact of the programme was an 80% increase in food production per capita and a 35% increase of the net income of the average participating household by year 5. Total incremental production at full development was estimated at 13.000 tonnes/year. Women workload would be considerably reduce thanks to the purchase of carts and mills. Food self sufficiancy, access to credit and development of cash income generating activities in the dry season would reduce out migration. The ERR was estimated at 12%.
The assumption was made that the combined effects of SWC and AGF will allow a 85% increase on cereals yields.
In august 1988, the CRPA (centres régionaux de promotion agro-pastorale) were granted financially independent status, a situation which required more operational support than planned (especially transport facilities for the extension agents).
8. The agro-climatic conditions of the last 5 years were quite good. The only bad season was 1990-91 with rainfall as poor as 1987.
SWC Achievements. At the end of 1992, SWC works had been done in 60% of the villages in the programme area (187/315). The 9.314 ha developed under the programme correspond to about 13% of the sown land in the 187 villages (and about 8% of the total area sown in the 12 departments in the programme area).
Agro-forestry. At the present time, 105 villages are taking part in the AGF component (56%). In three years the programme has installed or rehabilitated 49 village nurseries producing a total of 173.000 plants (50% of the target) and sunk some twenty wells. Achievements as at 30/06/92 (two years): 95 km of grass coverage (700 ha maximum) and 118 km of tree and shrub coverage (between 700 and 1 000 ha covered). It is estimated that at 30.6.92 (two seasons) 95 kms of the bunds had been planted with herbaceous vegetation and 118 km with trees, and about 7 kms with hedges. The plant average survival rate at one year would vary between 40% and 60% depending on the province, but locally the results are far lower because of stray animals. 2.250 volunteer small-holders were trained in assisted natural regeneration (ANR).
Crop Intensification (IA). A total of 3.500 manure pits were built and 1.020 tonnes of Burkina-Phosphate (BPh) distributed free of charge to 2.500 farmers (400kg each, enough corrective dressing for 1 ha). The Programme has not succeeded in promoting the usefulness of maintenance dressings (NPK and/or BPh) because the credit component was blocked and BPh and NPK were unavailable or in short supply on local markets. Only a small percentage of the manure pits are effectively and correctly used.
Rural Credit. The Programme's rural credit component was not yet operational at the time of the mission.
Institutional Strengthening. The contractual partnership system introduced by the Programme appears very appropriate. It allows the maximum amount of available human and organizational resources to be mobilized and made accountable, without unduly increasing recurrent costs and management difficulties. It is also a way of developing coordination between services and generating synergetic effects in a region where the number of parties involved generate enormous coordination difficulties.
Monitoring and Evaluation. Four years after being launched, the SWC/AGF Programme is yet to have an impact monitoring and evaluation system. Available data on achievements are incomplete and not fully integrated.
Beneficiaries: the number of beneficiary farms in 1992 would be about 4 660, i.e. one quarter of the population of the participating villages.
All the farmers agree that the erosion control works are having a positive effect on grain yields, particularly when rainfall is scarce or poorly distributed. The average increases in millet and sorghum yields on rehabilitated sites is estimated at 30% in a year of poor rainfall, 20% in an average year, and 10% in a good year.
The crop intensification packages have been widely accepted thanks to the provision of BPh, free of charge, but also because the farmers are aware of the fertility problems. Most farmers have, however, had difficulties to produce compost or manure due to the lack of transport facilities (carts), the shortage of water (for watering the pits) in the dry season and the difficulties in obtaining the raw material to fill the pits. The impact of applying BPh combined with compost from the pits has not been monitored in the field, but it is thought to be relatively minor because the per hectare application of compost has been inadequate in terms of both quantity and quality. The effect on yields is +20% in a year of good or average rainfall, and +10% in a drought year.
The effect of the agro-forestry measures on crop production are for the time being negligible, as the plantations are young and the areas covered small. The nurseries established or rehabilitated and the training provided in Assisted Natural Regeneration (ANR - 2 250 farmers volunteered) will certainly have a positive impact in the medium term if solutions to the problem of browsing by stray livestock are found.
The average combined effects of SWC and IA is about 1.500 additional tonnes of millet and sorghum annually on the 9.300 ha rehabilitated. On this area, the effect of the programme on production would be within the range of +30 to +75%, depending on different years. These encouraging results still represent only a minor impact on the total food crop production of the four provinces due to the limited scale of the intervention.
Effects on beneficiaries incomes: the investment of an average farm in the Yatenga and Passoré departments (10 persons; 3.2 ha under crops) generates an additional annual output of 300 to 400 kg of millet and sorghum --a production increase of 23 to 40% depending on the climatic conditions in a given year. The household has a grain shortfall in a year of average or poor rainfall, and a surplus in a good year. The farm's cash income (livestock, handicrafts, groundnuts) covers an average grain shortfall, and the farm's average results are therefore slightly positive in the long term (+3 000 CFAF), which is not the case without the Programme. Seasonal or permanent migration would no longer be necessary for survival. We can therefore say that beneficiaries have achieved some measure of food security, but their capacity to save and invest is low unless they have an off-farm income.
Specific effects on women: the credit component, targeted to women was not yet operational. Women constitute 54% of the workforce involved in bunding work and 42% of those involved in loading the trucks. Women are also in charge of bringing water and meals to the work sites in addition to doing their burdensome domestic work and looking after their children. The women's involvement on the erosion control sites therefore represents a much greater effort than that furnished by the men, who have relatively little to do during the dry season. In return, the women obtain no particular advantage from the Programme. In all the villages, the women stressed that their workload had increased (a completely contrary effect to that initially sought by the Programme) and requested assistance to reduce their domestic workload (mills, wells and carts).
Effects on the environment: thanks to the erosion control measures, it was possible to rehabilitate degraded land that had become unsuitable for cultivation. About 20-25% of the rehabilitation work in the departments of Yatenga and Passoré and 10% in the other areas was done on abandoned land. Cropping on these lands resumes after one to three years, depending on whether or not the "zaï" technique is used.
Sustainability: the effects on yields of erosion control work are immediate but not sustainable unless SWC is supplemented by appropriate fertilization measures. The vast majority of the saplings are given away free of charge to members of the VGs which means that the nurseries are not likely to survive after the end of the programme. The effect of BPh applied as a basal dressing (400 kg/ha) would last 4 or 5 years unless it were supplemented by maintenance applications. The average combined effects of SWC and IA on production are not sustainable on the medium term without a generalized improvement of fertilisation techniques (MO + BPh or MO + NPK according to different zones).
Difficulties of implementation until 1991
The PMU was established at Yako in january 89. After a quick start up of field operations, the Programme soon encountered difficulties:
i) its IS component was not adapted to the new institutional context ;
ii) long delays in acquiring some material, in particular the site equipment needed for the field work already under way.
The Programme was unable to fulfil its management contracts with the Village Groups (VGs), particularly the clauses stating that site tools were to be provided early in the crop year. The situation worsened considerably in 1990/91 when the additional problem of transport facilities to move the rubble stone for the erosion control bunds arose. Previously, vehicles had been hired to transport the stone, but hiring was ruled out in 90/91 when the EMAs were provided with their own vehicles. As it turned out, however, there were not enough trucks to meet the year's objectives. A lengthy suspension of loan disbursements (due to the late payment by GBF of the service charge due to IFAD) also restricted funds when the works were at their height (12.90 to 02.91). Only 44 villages received EMA assistance in 90/91 -- 50% less than in the previous year -- and only 1 421 ha were covered by SWC. The Programme was unable to honour its contracts with the VGs for the second year running and its credibility seriously suffered, not only in the eyes of the villagers, but also in those of its partner institutions (CRPA, INERA and IRBET) and suppliers, who were paid late due to the Programme's cash problems (disbursements were again suspended 08.91).
The considerable imbalance between the SWC, AGF and IA components
It is known that the positive effects of SWC cannot last without IA and AGF. Yet the vast majority of the anti-erosion sites are not supported by these measures that were designed from the outset for only 20% and 10%, respectively, of the developed acreages. It is also known that agro-forestry is one of the conditions for increasing the organic matter inputs. There is no concerted strategy between the IA and AGF components. Aside from the fact that the relative amounts of resources assigned to the various Programme components were not equally balanced (due to the Programme's design), the mission noted the lack of integration of SWC, AGF and IA actions although their complementarity and interdependence had been recognized in the SAR.
The absence of some essential complementary measures in the areas of village water supply, farm equipment, livestock development and support for cash income-generating activities.
How can compost be made where there is no water available in the dry season to keep it moist? How can the stone bunds be built around the scattered outfield plots without carts to carry the stones? How can tonnes of green matter be carried to the compost pits and the compost to the fields without these carts? How can manure production be increased unless livestock management is changed? How can the agro-forestry success rate be satisfactory unless livestock is prevented from straying and/or fences are installed? These are just a few of the very concrete problems facing the villages, and for which the programme offers no answers. For that reason, the project is not able to help the poorest farms become involved in sustainable crop intensification. As regards crop intensification, it is obvious that the farms that manage to work their manure pit(s) properly are those (very few) with a cart and cattle.
It is indispensable for the programme to rebalance the scope of its various components and define its activity programmes in the villages based on Integrated Land Development Plans designed by the villagers themselves. Multisectoral and integrated efforts must be focused on the villages currently involved instead of spreading more widely to include new villages. The Programme should restore the balance to its operations and fit them into integrated village land development plans (plans intégrés d'aménagement de terroirs) specific to each village. The management plans should be drawn up by the villagers with the combined support of the different parties involved in each village (NGOs, agricultural and forestry extension agents, COOPEC or SEC officers, etc...). In many villages, the absence of boreholes and/or the drying up of wells during the dry season are a major constraint to the expansion of manure pit use, the practice of stabling livestock, as well as to erosion control works, and, in addition, significantly increase the women's workload. Funds under some components should be released without delay for the sinking of wells or boreholes in the villages where water supply is a serious problem and other projects or NGOs are not in a position to help.
It is a necessary (even if not sufficient) condition to equip the farms with carts for most of the present and future actions of the programme to be successful, but most of the farms, particularly the poorest ones, could not possibly afford this investments, even on credit.The partial, targeted and incentivating subsidisation of carts' selling price (about 50%, if possible at the level of the local producers), is the best compromise solution between the need to extend this essential tool as widely as possible, and the need to make the most of the limited resources available to the programme and the farms. This subsidy policy is not a substitute but a targeted (cart-specific) complement to the credit component.
On the basis of the Village Land Development Plans drafted by the village communities, the departmental and provincial concertation managers should gradually become the main authorities for programming and coordinating the actions to support local development. The Programme should continue to provide and broaden its support to the CDC/CPCs using the funds available for the IS component.
If a more integrated and participatory approach is taken through Village Land Development Plans, and in view of the need for tailored counselling to farms on fertility management themes and crop-livestock integration, it will be necessary to make a great effort to provide training for the SPA/SPET agents and the VG. These efforts should be given top priority.
The M&E functions should be handled by PMU. An ad hoc unit should be set up in Yako, with the function of regularly monitoring the effects of the programme and the ongoing process in the villages. IFAD could rapidly provide support for the design and startup of this Unit.
The second phase of the SWC/AGF Programme should be prepared, incorporating the approaches set out above in a global strategy for village land development and for gradually rendering the communities autonomous. SWC, AGF and IA actions should be integrated into one single component. It would also be advisable to extend the programme's intervention zone to other provinces in the central Plateau (particularly Bulkiembé and Sanguié in the south of Yako) in order to make the most of the considerable institutional investment at the PMU level. This second phase of the programme should not take off before the end of the current phase, scheduled for December 1995, in order to learn from the initiatives or components that are only in the take-off stage at the present time (credit component, 'GT test villages', individual schemes, M&E). It would be important to commit larger and more diversified ressources to the implementation of cash income-generating activities of the poorest households and women in the villages. The government and IFAD therefore have all the time they require to prepare phase two properly. But some of the changes recommended above must be made as a matter of urgency (especially the establishment of an effective M&E system).
One of the most important lessons to be drawn by IFAD from this project is three-fold: the need for better quality appraisal reports, greater flexibility in implementing the loans and supervision geared to providing practical and quick solutions to project implementation problems. The Programme design as set out in the appraisal report comprised several shortcomings and inconsistencies that might have prevented the Programme from meeting its objectives. Most of these shortcomings and inconsistencies were identified fairly early, but the inflexible loan administration system slowed down the correction process. Future beneficiaries should be consulted more frequently and participate in the design phase. Early participation by beneficiaries could prevent many design errors and omissions.
During project implementation IFAD and the cooperating institution should be more attentive to the positive or negative effects of the works and achievements on women's living conditions and pay special attention to the components likely to have a positive impact.
Traditional soil fertility managment practices no longer suffive to maintain organic balance of rain-fed croplands in the densely populated sahelian regions. The steady worsening of this balance is as damaging to crop productivity as is erosion. The dissemination of farming techniques based on compost and manure applications is essential, but will not suffice to replace and increase organic matter. In order to facilitate soil fertility management in these areas, transport facilities are needed to: move material and water to the pits, fodder and water for the stabled animals, and take the manure and compost to the plots. Farms without cart cannot undertake all this work. Animal-drawn carts are therefore necessary for a new soil fertility management system. Without them sustainable agricultural development will not be possible. The IFAD target group in these poor, minimally monetized areas, cannot afford carts. In view of the agro-ecological and social importance of this item (most of the on-farm and domestic hand transport is done by women and is unpaid, and when carts are in short supply they become a source of income transfer for the more well-to-do), IFAD should take in consideration a subsidization policy specially targeted to draught animal transport in the sahel.
In the regions with a fragile environment, weak agricultural potential and strong population pressure, resource conservation and economic development can only be contemplated in terms of multisectoral integrated actions which consistently deal with the many constraints on production systems. Merely superimposing different components in a project, which are expected to respond to each one of these constraints is no guarantee that they will be implemented in the field in an integrated fashion, particularly when the components are being executed by different agencies. If the project is to be effective, it must be implemented in each village under the guidance of a consistent strategy that is created by that community, meeting its needs, constraints and specific potential. Self-diagnosis and participatory integrated programming at village level should be the constituent elements of the project's annual work programmes. This approach would also make it possible to solve 'from the grassroots' the difficult problems of coordinating external agents (projects, NGOs, public services) in each village. It would require great flexibility when implementing the project, which would no longer be dictated by some scheme worked out in advance by experts, but it would be geared to the needs, initiatives and degree of mobilisation of the people directly involved.
The SWC/AGF Programme, like others before it, illustrates the difficulties in setting up an M&E unit from the outset. During the first years of implementation, officials are wholly taken up by institutionalising the project, learning procedures, procuring materials and equipment, sensitising local people, etc.. Under these conditions they hardly give priority to setting up an M&E unit. Early and specific external support has proven to be necessary to design an M&E system, carry out a baseline survey and effectively establish the system for collecting, processing and disseminating information.
Second Small Farmer Development Project
Under the Second Small Farmer Development Project (SFDP II), the assistance given to small farmer groups (SFGs) was extended to a further 12 districts. At the same time, operations were intensified in the 31 districts already covered by the First Small Farmer Development Project (SFDP I). A total of 43 of the country's 75 districts were covered by SFDP II. About 60% of the districts covered are in the Hills and 40% in the Terai or the plains.
At full development, the project would help to form about 5 000 SFGs covering some 50 000 small farmers. This would be additional to the 3 500 SFGs and 35 000 small farmers supported under SFDP I.
The SFDP II eligibility criterion was designed to overcome limitations connected with coverage in the first phase. In the SFDP I, farmers with high income were eligible as long as their holding was small. On the other hand, the SFDP II eligibility was designed only with a per capita income threshold of Rs 1 200 at 1978/79 prices (USD 70).
The project was approved to intensify and expand the activities of the SFDP I. Its objectives were: (i) to increase the income and improve the well-being of small farmers, landless labourers and the rural poor; (ii) to develop self-reliance among these disadvantaged groups and to encourage savings so that they are able to organize themselves to plan and carry out their own projects; and (iii) to adapt the local delivery mechanisms of government agencies and institutions to the needs of the rural poor.
The project, as appraised, consisted of two main components: (i) support for crop production, livestock, minor irrigation works, horticulture and village industry/agroprocessing; and (ii) service activities, necessary for effective project implementation, comprising training, technical assistance, monitoring and evaluation, and support for the salaries of additional Agricultural Development Bank of Nepal (ADBN) staff (group organizers -GOs-, assistant group organizers -AGOs-, etc.) involved.
The project was conceived as a credit project aimed at rural poverty alleviation. With declining per capita agricultural production and increasing rural poverty, more effective institutions for the delivery of extension and credit were considered essential. The main benefits expected were the increased production of basic necessities (such as food, consumer goods and services), expanded employment opportunities and increased income for poor families in the rural areas.
The project design reflected the assumption that the organization of small farmers, landless labourers and disadvantaged rural poor, including women, is essential for: (i) reaching them with information; (ii) soliciting their demand for assistance with credit and extension; and (iii) reducing risk in credit delivery through substituting group responsibility for individual liability.
The Completion Evaluation (CE) mission remained in Nepal from April 13 to May 9, 1992. The analysis of beneficiary impact is almost entirely based on primary data collected through the IFAD Completion Evaluation Survey (CES), undertaken in January-February 1992. The mission's interviews and case studies provided further information.
The election climate negatively affected credit repayments. During general election campaigns promises were made that loans to farmers would be written off. Other statements made were that ADBN loans were international gifts and need not be paid back. Such rumours discouraged farmers from repaying their loans and wilful defaulting increased.
Almost all quantitative targets were met or surpassed by a wide margin. To an extent, this reflects favourably on the drive of the SFDP II to quickly disburse funds so as to reach the project targets. Quantitative targets for creation of Sub Project Offices (SPOs), groups and staff were overachieved. Credit provided exceeded appraisal targets, commonly by not less than 518 to 200%. Credit was extended for irrigated as well as for non-irrigated land, for livestock, horticulture, village industry and agroprocessing. For livestock, 18 900 buffaloes and 39 705 goats were purchased, representing 125% and 280% of the targets, respectively.
Intensification of agricultural practices is essential, given scarce arable land, and the project definitely contributed to technology adoption. One-third of the sampled farmers bought at least one of the technology related inputs through SFDP credit. But most farmers in the SFDP areas continued to use traditional cultivation methods and practices.
A larger proportion of Terai farmers bought inputs on credit than the farmers in the Hills (40% vs. 24%). Farmers with irrigation facility bought more inputs (primarily fertilizer and pumps) on credit. Improved livestock breeds were adopted only by a few farmers; improvements were not reported and observed in feed and fodder management.
Credit has been important in facilitating adoption of improved technology for crop production. Credit contributed to adoption of irrigation, wheat seed, and potassium based fertilizer. Precise impact of technology adoption could not be quantified.
The project assumptions for yield increases were too optimistic. Yields rose 17% compared to expected 40-60% for improved maize and paddy. Extension contact increased yields over and above the direct effect of fertilizer application. But extension coverage was far from adequate: extension services were available to less than one-third of small farmers group members.
While about 40% of the credit was allocated to livestock, credit was not associated with sustained adoption of improved livestock. The livestock component aimed at improving the productivity of buffaloes and goats, and at providing farmers with little or no land, with animals to hire out for draught and transportation. But the livestock component did not take off as intended. There is little evidence that the project has resulted in an increase in livestock productivity, despite sometimes reasonable marketing opportunities. High mortality of improved breeds explains why credit failed to generate a positive statistical association for adoption of improved breeds. Farmers referred to high mortality rates as a major reason for non-adoption, explained not least by limited veterinary services.
Farmers generally perceived per capita income to have risen through earnings from crops, livestock, and employment, especially if debt service is not taken into account. Data limitations negated the effort to ascertain precise changes. But income at least from crop production has risen. In addition to yield increases, relative prices remained favourable from 1986/87 to 1990/91.
The Staff Appraisal Report (SAR) envisaged that there would be negligible negative environmental effects associated with the project. But there is no evidence of advances in feed and fodder management in the SPOs sampled and visited. The SFGs surveyed indicated that the area under vegetation during the project period has decreased in most of the SPOs. Nearly half of the communities reported that they had experienced a decline in forest resources. In contrast, farmers' evaluation of the environmental component in the training system developed for the project is positive. This training, covering forest fires, deforestation, migration, pollution, and soil erosion, was found useful. Possibly, this could mean that in the absence of such training, environmental changes would have been even more adverse.
After 17 years (1975/1992) women's participation is still below 20%. Women are not specifically referred to in the SFDP II eligibility criteria; this explains at least in part the low participation of women. Another reason is that the skill development programmes are not designed for women. Almost all skill development training programmes are conducted far from the homesteads and women are not attracted. However, the project recruited a large number of female group organizers. These WGOs have become a key factor in increasing women's involvement in the project.
Support was rightly given to the ADBN for monitoring, but was not well used. The SFDP division should have been guided by the Evaluation and Management Information Systems (MIS) division. But the flow of data both to and from the field was inadequate. The actual support for the SFDP division was quite limited. The MIS support in the first place should have been lodged within the SFDP division. The SFDP manager needed to be in direct command, but was not in control. Even though incentives within ADBN as a whole remained aligned with continued credit expansion,
location of M&E to the responsible project manager would have given him greater possibilities to obtain required information on performance and repayment.
The M&E activities of the ADBN did not evaluate impact, nor were impact indicators developed for the project.
The project, because of its design, faced formidable constraints. The provision of subsidized funds to ADBN directed the institution towards a focus solely on credit expansion. Policies with incentives and controls were not introduced so as to induce ADBN to become less dependent on external subsidized funds and to reward borrowers who performed in line with contractual obligations.
ADBN's declared profits turned negative towards the end of the 1980s. Profits were positive in 1986/87 and 1987/88, zero for the subsequent two years, and estimated as negative for 1990/91.
In spite of the large predominance of those borrowing sums below Rs 10 000 (74%), the percentage of "medium loans" between Rs 10 001 and Rs 30 000 is also considerable (25.5%). The latter percentage is striking, considering that income per capita is particularly low in Nepal (USD 170), and that less than 30% of SFDP loans apparently were disbursed without property collateral. A loan of Rs 20 000 already represents no less than 2.7 times the per capita income.
Loan recovery became the major issue. The decline in recovery rate started during the SFDP I period with a rate of 68% in 1982/83, which fell to 48% in 1987. The rate slid to no more than 40% in 1990/91. The loan recovery rates of the SFDP II were greater than those of the ADBN except for 1990/91. In this year total arrears rose from Rs 41.7 million to Rs 155.4 million. The rapid growth in the number of groups has negatively affected loan collection. For instance, a statistical analysis based on the female SFGs showed that credit recovery is negatively associated with an increasing number of groups per SPO in these zones.
A separate strategy should be adopted for the small farmers who are above their subsistence level and can readily undertake bankable projects. The provision of technical extension services is vital also for this group. The Projects must ascertain that: (i) technology and/or the economic environment are not the primary constraints, only when this is not the case is there the rationale for credit provision. Impact certainly would have been improved, had credit been preceded or accompanied by extension services that had responded to farmers' demand. Moreover, the environmental implications need to be pursued, e.g. additional fodder requirements of livestock investment.
Factors that explain variations in low credit repayment need to be pursued. Such understanding is necessary in order to find instruments with which to design a strategy for raising performance in recovery.
The large share allocated to the livestock sector to finance improved breeds was not justified. Instead, more funds should be made available for other more productive types of investments.
The project group formation was regarded primarily as a vehicle to obtain loans from the SPOs. But experience has shown that groups should first be formed for activities that may later require credit.
In the absence of proper credit norms, disbursement of loans on an ad hoc basis has resulted in over-financing. It is recommended that specific norms be developed on a regional basis for each SPO and be used in loan appraisal by the GOs and small farmer groups to determine loan amounts for participating households. It is also recommended that these norms be updated every year to reflect the changes in cropping patterns, cropping intensities, and technology adoption.
The training provided to the group organizers, group leaders and members-beneficiaries was inadequate. Far more attention has to be given to the training of group leaders and members. Groups should be trained to evaluate their leader's performance.
More than two-thirds of group savings earned only 8.5% interest which is much lower than the market interest rate and the annual inflation rate of about 20%. The Nepal Rastra Bank and ADBN should agree on a timetable for shifting from negative towards positive rates of interest on savings.
Members' contributions to group savings schemes were irregular and records were not maintained properly in several SPOs. Groups should make savings a standard prerequisite for membership. Furthermore, individual savings should be promoted at group level.
The WGOs should be given intensive training in credit appraisal, use of savings funds, supervision, loan collection, and monitoring. The WGOs should avoid over-financing women members, particularly those who tend to borrow under pressure from their husbands. WGOs represent vital resources for the project at the local level. They should be rewarded with incentives and recognition of better performance. It is also recommended that women SFG members be assisted in the identification of projects which contribute directly to women's welfare. Drinking water supply, planting of fast-growing fuelwood trees, and provision of alternative cooking energy sources represent potential impact points.
To introduce an element of participatory evaluation, annual meetings at each SPO should be held with the aim to have the views of the SFG members expressed and brought to the attention of SFDP regional officials as well as head office staff. A compilation of the results of all those annual SPO meetings should be prepared by the Evaluation and MIS Division and presented to SFDP and ADBN top management.
ADBN should continue its present policy to decentralize monitoring functions and capabilities. Monitoring is an integral part of each management information system. It should be made operational, according to needs, at all levels involved in the bank's SFDP programme.
Monitoring and evaluation functions with regard to the SFDP programme should be separated. Impact evaluation should be sub-contracted to a local institution. A work plan with
clearly specified outputs is required. The latter would reflect targets set out in the annual work programme for number and type of submitted reports with defined quality standards.
For IFAD, the provision of low cost funds to a Rural Financial Institution (RFI) must be justified in terms of an acceptable, minimum leakage of lent funds to "non-poor" groups, coupled with an assured sustainability of the RFI reflecting minimum default rates and profit margins. This can be ensured by: (i) distinguishing between groups as to whether or not credit is an appropriate solution; (ii) reducing leakage through cost-effective targeting; and (iii) introducing a regulatory framework which rewards repayment performance, i.e. lending rates become flexible to reflect actual risk in lending.
Projects that are predominantly credit based need to employ at least one farming system economist (within the financial institution). Such professionals would assist in setting out guidelines and perform supervision so that credit is not provided when required technology support is not available, and repayment for the debtor and/or the community is not assured.
The lending rate of the RFI needs to include sufficient provision for defaults so as to ensure pre-determined financial break-even conditions. To achieve financial and institutional sustainability,
rural financial institutions to become successful are advised to introduce an incentive framework with rewards to borrowers and groups that perform well in credit recovery and savings mobilization. Such a performance based system has been set out in the Completion Evaluation Report (Annex 6). Groups are classified as to their performance inter alia in recovery (AA groups: fully credit worthy; AB groups: credit worthy; and AC groups: not yet credit worthy). Borrowers who perform well should be rewarded inter alia through lower interest rates, and/or other incentives, so as to reflect their lower credit risk. Groups who repay in line with contractual obligation are rewarded, others pay a higher cost for the credit obtained, and/or are denied access. The distinctions made facilitate analysis of needs and potential of credit groups, and subsequent training delivery.
For food insecure households, extension support should precede and replace the singular emphasis on credit expansion. Credit provision must consider livelihood levels and repayment capacity. A large proportion of "small farmers" in Nepal live below the subsistence (poverty) level. The first step should be to define those households that are "food insecure", so as to assist them through agricultural extension, skill development and other support services, and employment generation programmes. The second step would be to determine the proportion of this group that can productively use and repay credit. Use of joint liability or group collateral for this group could contribute importantly, at the margin, to lowering the direct cost of lending.
In relation to M&E activities: (i) It was unrealistic to have assumed that ADBN could take the full responsibility of all monitoring and evaluation functions given its lack of experience in impact monitoring. During the first phase of the project impact studies were subcontracted to Agricultural Project Support Centre (APROSOC); and (ii) it should be remembered that the supervision missions paid limited attention to monitoring and evaluation issues. With more attention given to M&E, corrective measures to improve the system could have been taken much earlier in the life of the project.
Agricultural Management Training in Africa (AMTA)
Agricultural Management Training in Africa (AMTA)
1. The Agricultural Management Training Programme for Africa (AMTA) was conceived by IFAD in the early 1980s and conducted in collaboration with the African Development Bank (AfDB), the World Bank's Economic Development Institute (EDI), and the Organization of African Unity/Scientific, Technical and Research Commission (OAU/STRC) as the regional sponsor and clearing house. AMTA was conceived for the following purposes:
(a) to train a cadre of agricultural sector managers;
(b) to establish a permanent agricultural management training capacity among regional and national training institutions;
(c) to devise and develop suitable curricula, training materials and methods for training agricultural sector managers;
(d) to improve, over a relatively short term, the performance of agricultural development projects; and
(e) to "increase the awareness of senior government officials of policy issues and administrative procedures that affect the implementation of agricultural development projects."
2. From 1984 to 1990, four IFAD Technical Assistance grants for a total of USD 5.3 million, with co-financing and staff support from the AfDB (USD 1.4 million) and EDI (USD 1 million), have financed four cycles of AMTA. Three sub-programmes have been completed and the fourth will be completed in mid-1992. The total costs of AMTA probably will be about USD 6.5 million, USD 2.3 million less than the original estimates. So far, mid-way through AMTA IV, a total of 411 project staff from 74 projects in 27 sub-Saharan countries have been trained, 44 management trainers from national training institutions, and about 105 agricultural officials who have attended two-day national policy seminars. A total of 49 senior officials from ministries of agriculture have attended the High Level Policy Seminars organised by IFAD in Italy.
3. Pending the conclusion of AMTA IV, this evaluation is an interim assessment of the results and the impact of AMTA since it began. It was conducted in 1991 by a team of consultants under the general direction of the Monitoring and Evaluation Division of IFAD, through missions to eight countries that participated in each of the four sub-programmes.
4. The broad aim of AMTA to introduce a management training methodology appropriate for African conditions is valid and the strategy chosen is generally suitable. The basic concepts, which focus on the policy and administrative environment of the agricultural sector and projects, the project organisation, and individual project managers and senior staff, are also valid. However, the strategy chosen emphasises project organisation, its managers and senior staff, as it should, but does not sufficiently involve senior officials1/ who are responsible for the policy and administrative apparatus of agricultural sector and project management.
5. AMTA has introduced a promising training method that combines individual and team training in the use of selected management techniques. It has been conducted effectively through residential courses, seminars, non-residential workshops and on-the-job applications. With the financial means and institutional support necessary, appropriate pedagogical guidance from training institutions, and continued training of trainers, the basic curriculum and materials developed by AMTA are adaptable to training needs of widely differing African countries. With refinements of the curriculum to fit national needs (based on a more rigorous Needs Assessment Survey (NAS) and more selective use of training materials), additional help from training institutions for on-the-job applications, the AMTA method can be an effective means of training managers and management teams. The particular feature of AMTA was its pilot nature. Consequently, the approach, curriculum and training materials of AMTA were expected to be tested and modified during the implementation of the programme. In the process, the tested methodology would become ready for wide application in the region.
6. AMTA was a massive effort to reach nearly all sub-Saharan African countries. It was adequately funded by the three sponsoring institutions (AfDB, World Bank/Economic Development Institute, and IFAD). In contrast, the commitment of regional and national training institutions, and senior agricultural officials in each country fell short of expectations. Therefore, as an externally induced, "supply driven" innovation, AMTA has not yet become an instrument of institution-building that its founders envisaged, and this for three reasons. First, too little attention has been paid to AMTA's achievements and potential by the Project Operations' staff of the three sponsoring institutions. Thus AMTA, being divorced from the operational mainstream of project design and implementation, has had a limited effect on projects. Second, even though regional and national training institutions readily adopted the AMTA curriculum and methods, there is no firm commitment on their part; and there are not enough national trainers with whom to continue AMTA (unless this activity continues to be internationally financed, preferably with grants in the short- as well as the medium-term). Third, senior officials in each country had a very limited involvement in and commitment to AMTA, compared with the scope and intensity of training provided for project management staff.
1/ Only ministers, permanent secretaries and senior officials participate in the 2-3 day High-Level Policy Seminars held in Italy, which focus mainly on broad policy issues. These high level officials should also be sensitized to the requirements and potential of those improved management tools which are at the base of AMTA training. This could take place in the course of policy seminars organised in Italy or (as in the case of AMTA IV) at the level of the AMTA-assisted countries.
7. In training about 411 project managers and senior staff and procurement specialists so far, AMTA has reached its original objective of 408 in about the same proportions as originally planned; with respect to national trainers, attrition during training and turn-over thereafter have kept the number of trainees down to about 25 (or less) from an enrolment of 44, which is short of the 48 originally planned.
8. A high degree of consensus was expressed by former participants that AMTA had helped to improve their administrative, financial and technical management proficiency. About 85% of participants feel that AMTA achieved most objectives. With near unanimity they assigned a satisfactory to high rating to the benefits that they personally derived from AMTA, namely, skills, greater job satisfaction, team work and, for many, career development opportunities. As many participants expressed, for them (especially senior project staff) this was the first opportunity to learn management and training techniques, and most appreciated the leadership skills that come with learning to use these techniques.
9. Overall, participants felt that as a result of AMTA the management training capacity of regional and national training institutions had been improved. The favourable outlook toward the capability of national training institutions, however, must be discounted in view of the high attrition of national trainers who initially enrolled.
10. The view expressed by 87% of participants that AMTA helped improve the performance of their project is not supported by evidence as to how AMTA was used at the project level. Upon reviewing selected project completion and evaluation reports, it is evident that other factors, beyond the control of project managers, and outside the scope of AMTA as designed, influenced the outcome: for example, AMTA could not help to correct inappropriate project design; or it came too late in the project cycle or, in the case of sector and sub-sector projects, the real project managers did not participate in AMTA. In some extreme cases (e.g. Ethiopia) other forces prevented project managers and senior staff from making effective use of AMTA. Consequently, project managers and staff who used AMTA techniques were either frustrated in their efforts (by resistance to change by colleagues who did not benefit from AMTA training, their superiors, or other institutions not involved in the AMTA process), or because trained staff were reassigned, so that AMTA training had negligible effects on the outcome of their projects.
11. Most important, AMTA was not acknowledged as an instrument of change by any of the three sponsoring institutions (AfDB, IFAD and World Bank) that also finance agricultural projects, or by senior officials of the countries. This was reflected in the strong reservation expressed by most former participants about the contribution of AMTA to generating support from senior officials in overcoming policy constraints and administrative impediments, or otherwise providing positive support to improve project performance. AMTA has not been mentioned in project supervision and completion reports or reviews that have been prepared so far.
12. The training NAS has been the fundamental instrument of curriculum design, which determined the topics to select and emphasise, in addition to the general project management topics of the core curriculum. Because of the tedious work involved in conducting a NAS for an average of three projects per country, and the tight schedules imposed on special NAS missions and curriculum design workshops over a three-month period, the process was conducted under stress. A major flaw of the NAS was that it did not capture the environment in which projects were implemented. This is because:
(a) the choice of countries, projects and participants was largely pre-determined, rather than the end-product of the NAS. As a result, a minimum number, and not necessarily the appropriate combination, of participants were selected, and it excludes projects and participants that could have benefitted from AMTA;
(b) sectoral and sub-sectoral projects were treated in the same way as area-specific or functional projects, so that senior staff in managerial and decision-making positions were excluded and usually replaced by coordinators with little managerial authority over project performance;
(c) the survey questionnaire is too long, and lacks a scale with which to assess the relative weight of skill levels and deficiencies according to which training need priorities within projects and countries can in turn be assessed. It also lacks questions on substantive topics relevant to managers and senior staff in technically specific fields; and
(d) two important elements are explicitly left out of the NAS: (i) senior officials, especially those at the level of Director or Director-General; and (ii) national training institutions and their trainers (in order to assess their commitment to AMTA).
13. Although the combination of countries -- with six or seven countries in each sub-programme -- and the number of projects and participants were based on considerations of cost-effectiveness and economies of scale, plus the need to respond to decisions made by each of the partner institutions, the same curriculum in a sub-programme for 6-7 countries could hardly take all differences between countries into account. Thus, even though the pedagogy of AMTA can be standardised in principle and kept flexible in practice, standardisation cannot apply to the entire curriculum.
14. Despite these misgivings, more than 70% of former participants felt that the curriculum responds to real training needs and expressed a relatively high degree of satisfaction. However, the evaluation missions found that participant satisfaction was as much the result of the training methods used (emphasising individual and group training) as of the variety of subjects chosen and training materials used. For example, the topic of general project management was highly rated by participants but they felt less satisfied with the general treatment of substantive topics: financial management, agricultural credit, extension, and procurement. Dissatisfaction among about 26% of participants regarding special topics (credit, marketing, extension, procurement, and reporting) seems due to a combination of factors: the shortage of trainers with sufficient expertise and broad experience in these subjects, the gaps between theory and what is normally feasible in certain countries, and the difficulties in satisfying the expectations of a heterogeneous group of participants from many countries. In contrast, more satisfaction was expressed for the subject of Monitoring and Evaluation than for other specialties.
15. Training methods and materials developed for AMTA were judged as satisfactory by at least 85% of former participants, 60% deeming them as highly satisfactory. However, participants felt, in two-thirds of cases, that the training materials on specialised topics were not sufficiently focused on their responsibilities in agriculture. For this reason, among others, they preferred case studies, because they were prepared exclusively for each sub-programme and dealt more realistically with agricultural subject matters. Nevertheless, they were deemed to be in short supply, especially during AMTA I and II, and not sufficiently diversified.
16. Team-building methods and Performance Improvement Planning (PIP) have earned the participants' appreciation, in contrast with the original in-country follow-up workshops which were not always conducted systematically. The PIP, if used creatively for peer training rather than as a rigid device, has the potential of making the greatest contribution toward binding members of a management team to formulate and pursue action plans for the entire project or for any of its components. The testing of PIP started in the early phases of AMTA, but it received all the emphasis that it deserves in AMTA III and IV, thanks to the flexibility of the programme curriculum and operations. However, the teaching of PIP application was limited to the project as a whole and not to its components.
17. By far the most positive and probably lasting effects impact of AMTA sub-programmes conducted so far are on 94-98% of participants who feel that they have acquired new knowledge and skills for project management. For a majority (70%), AMTA training has been an important step in their career development -- some having been promoted as a result, and a few having left their projects to take management positions in and out of the agricultural sector. With about 330 persons trained for 20 countries, this is an average of 16 per country, or about five per project. In view of the high mobility of trained staff, plus retirements and other causes of attrition, evidence since AMTA I shows that the effects of AMTA training and team-building rapidly dissipates because of the small number of trained people in each country and in each project.
18. In order to achieve a net increase in trained agricultural project and sector managers, training by AMTA would have to expand at a geometric rate, first to create a "critical mass" of trained cadres first at project, then at sectoral level. The concept of critical mass is important for AMTA, because it also implies a number of trained cadres sufficient to compensate for the high level of project staff mobility and attrition. The number or proportion of staff to be trained annually would depend on how quickly a critical mass should be achieved. In setting this objective AMTA would have to be a part of the manpower programme of agriculture and rural development ministries, in order to avoid the situation found during the evaluation, whereby after two years, projects have lost two or more of the five persons trained by AMTA.
19. The capacity acquired by regional and national institutions to train agricultural project managers depends on how much they were involved in AMTA, how AMTA is relevant to their training mandate, how many national trainers were trained and have remained, and what means they have to include AMTA in their training programme. Both regional and national training institutions have distinct advantages that have not yet been exploited, as well as extenuating limitations that became evident with hindsight.
20. So far the effect of AMTA on national training institutions has been less than that on regional institutions. This is due to the fact that national institutions did not begin to share real responsibilities in conducting the programme until AMTA III. Until then national institutions were only nominally involved, although special Training of Trainers (TOT) workshops were conducted for national trainers at regional seminars. Consequently, except in countries where branches of regional institutions had a dual role (Burkina Faso, Senegal, Zambia), national training institutions benefitted from AMTA only through their trainers, provided the latter remained in their jobs.
21. Since only about one-half of the 25 national trainers enrolled actually completed AMTA I and II, and fewer yet were assigned responsibility for training in agricultural project management, the benefits of AMTA for national training institutions were marginal before AMTA III. On the whole, however, the weakest element is still the relatively high drop-out rate of national trainers during a sub-programme, and their occupational mobility thereafter. Thus, out of about 45 national trainers who have been partially or fully trained during AMTA I-IV, only about 25 completed their respective sub-programme. It is estimated that when AMTA IV is completed, there will be at the most one partly or fully trained national trainer in each country, which is insufficient to assure sustainability.
22. From the above it is clear that the effort to train national trainers should be continued and receive more emphasis. Since in the past there has been no systematic effort in Africa to develop the capacity of national training institutions, the World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) agreed to create the Agricultural Rural Development Network (ARDNET) capitalising on AMTA's methodology and approach. The main thrust of ARDNET is to increase the capacity of national training institutions in Africa in the field of agricultural management development. IFAD is planning a close linkage between AMTA and ARDNET.
23. The value of AMTA has been recognised by some national training institutions, insofar as AMTA techniques have been incorporated in their management curriculum (e.g., the Kenya Institute of Management and the Ghana Institute for Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) in Ghana). This is a positive outcome but, to date, none of the national training institutions involved in AMTA I-III has replicated AMTA on its own initiative or on that of the agricultural authorities of their country. The reality is that in most countries national training institutions and trainers are spread over several sectors, and are not necessarily in the mainstream of agriculture. Furthermore, because of their financial self-sufficiency requirements, these institutions start new training programmes and continue established ones only if these activities contribute positively to their budgets and/or attract additional budget allocations.
24. Regional training institutions (the Pan-African Institute of Development (PAID), the Centre d'Etudes Supérieures en Administration et en Gestion (CESAG), the Eastern and Southern Africa Management Institute (ESAMI)) have contributed to AMTA, with some 20-30 regional trainers who have become proficient in using new techniques, writing new training materials on management, and developing the AMTA curriculum. However, they do not especially serve the agricultural sector (even in countries where there are no effective national training institutions) but rather other sectors, especially public enterprises, banking institutions, industry, etc. Regional training institutions have not yet pursued the possibility of continuing AMTA for projects in cooperation with national institutions. The absence of ties between them -- which AMTA showed could be temporarily established -- arise from differences in clientele, status, salaries of trainers, access to international funding, and in the amount and means of payment of institutional fees (i.e., in foreign currency vs. local currency). Although both regional and national training institutions responded positively to the demand for their services by AMTA, neither has yet cultivated the new "markets" created for their respective services.
25. There are no clear trade-offs between conducting AMTA with regional rather than national training institutions. The comparative advantage of having a national institution in each country (e.g. GIMPA in Ghana) is offset by that of having a regional institution in other countries (e.g. PAID in Cameroon), while in some other countries (e.g., Burundi), regional and national institutions can (and sometimes must) complement each other. However, the issue of the perceived inequity of remuneration between national and regional trainers is a problem that has not been faced squarely by AMTA.
26. A remarkable amount of training materials on the basic topics of agricultural project management has been produced since AMTA I. The early problems of bulky documentation and editorial quality have been largely overcome. However, in some volumes editorial and graphic quality still have a "makeshift," unfinished appearance, despite the establishment of a training material production facility at the PAID in Cameroon. Since they are drawn from several sources there is little uniformity in style and content, in part because some of the materials were not written for instructional purposes, while others, prepared by regional trainers exclusively for AMTA, are of a better quality. A great deal of selective editing is needed to segregate materials prepared for AMTA from background reading and references.
27. The full potential of the AMTA curriculum and training materials to create an effective demand for such training has not yet been realised. With "sunk costs" in training materials (for the basic core curriculum and specialised subjects) and the high value the former participants assigned to them, mass production and distribution of the materials would be expected. However, delays at PAID in production and distribution of a definitive version of the materials has made them unnecessarily scarce, even for former participants. Until a high quality version of at least the volume on General Project Management is available for mass circulation, a key instrument will be missing to create the demand for training for which AMTA was designed.
28. AMTA I-III experience shows that improving the performance of projects depends on more than a good management training programme. As noted above (paras 10 and 11) the sponsoring institutions' project operations staff took scant notice that the projects could benefit from the training that their institutions financed. The impact on projects was also limited by:
(a) the relatively small number of staff trained in each project, discussed above (para. 17), and their mobility, which made team-building difficult; and
(b) the focus of AMTA on the project organisation, rather than on breaking down the barriers between the project and the broader policy and administrative environment by which it is governed. For many problem projects, because of inappropriate project design and the presence of exogenous factors, AMTA was implemented too late (and the outcome of these projects would not have been different without AMTA).
29. So far AMTA has not raised the awareness of senior officials sufficiently to persuade them that they can positively influence certain policies and make the administrative environment more conducive to improved project implementation. Although it may still be too early to conclude that the recently instituted national Policy Level Seminars (PLSs) have little effect, the Evaluation team found that they had little effect on promoting AMTA training and making it easier to implement projects, for the following reasons:
(a) the two PLS were not attended by the same senior officials. National PLS, introduced in AMTA III, were attended by persons who have little or no influence on policy and procedures, i.e. advisors, and occasionally assistants to Directors-General and Under-Secretaries), while the international PLSs were attended by Ministerial - Permanent Secretary-level officials; and
(b) the agenda and the topics -- although appropriately chosen -- were not generally framed in the specific context of the ongoing AMTA programme. Uneven representation and poor attendance at both types of PLSs' further reduced their usefulness. The conclusions reached at both PLSs' were usually divorced from the action that needs to be taken to make that particular phase of training an effective instrument of change.
30. The total expenditures of AMTA of about USD 4.8 million will be considerably less than the original estimate of USD 8.3. million. After deducting undisbursed and cancelled amounts from the grants made by IFAD for AMTA I-III, expenditures to IFAD amounted to USD 2 965 899 (about USD 1.0 million less than the grants approved), about USD 970 000 to the AfDB and USD 925 000 to EDI. Excluding expenses for Programme Coordination and Administration (about 17%), actual training expenditures for 326 project staff and national trainers, and for conducting policy seminars for about 150 senior officials (49 at the three-day High Level Policy Seminars in Italy, and about 100 at the two-day National Policy Seminars of AMTA III) amounted to about USD 4.0 million .
31. There were 375 participants in AMTA I-III, but only 326 completed the training. The average total cost of USD 12 961 per participant seems high, but the figure is misleading because:
(a) the real training costs (excluding expenditures for programme administration, coordination and policy seminars) were reduced from USD 11 268 per participant in AMTA I to USD 10 522 in AMTA II, and to USD 10 340 in AMTA III as the result of tight cost controls imposed by IFAD management;
(b) the real training costs per participant averaged about USD 10 733 with a range of about USD 13 000 for project managers and USD 8 000 for senior project staff;
(b) costs per participant-week -- the most reliable measure of training costs -- amounted to roughly USD 1 901 for an aggregate of 1 967 participant-weeks to train 326 project cadres in AMTA I-III. This included all expenditures to prepare for the first residential seminar and follow-up activities such as team-building workshops. However, cost per participant-week did not decline with each new sub-programme as much as expected as the result of "sunk costs" in previous sub-programmes, mainly because additional training materials were produced for each sub-programme; and
(c) these costs are inflated by the relatively high cost of international high level PLSs in Italy. Expenditures for the three PLSs in Italy ranged from USD 2 100 to USD 3 647 per participant-day, for three days, compared with USD 114 per day for the non-residential national PLSs in AMTA III.
32. Although the costs per participant of AMTA are not fully comparable with those of other training programmes and institutions -- mainly because of different accounting rules for the treatment of sunk costs for training materials, institutional overhead and physical facilities -- USD 1 901 per participant-week of AMTA compares favourably with the highest costs of custom-designed EDI seminars (USD 1 800-USD 2 200). AMTA, however, is much more costly per participant week than the standard EDI courses (less than USD 1 000 per week). After allowing for the cost of travel to and subsistence in France, the United Kingdom or the United States, AMTA costs less than short (6-10 weeks) management training programmes organised by universities or special institutes in those countries.
33. AMTA has been less cost-effective than it could have been because it has been treated as an experimental programme with a number of enrolments lower than its potential capacity. Thus, one important feature for lowering the average cost of training a person, which could not be exploited by the AMTA programme, is to achieve very low marginal cost per participant. If this factor is ignored, average cost per participant-week automatically increases when the number of participants is restricted. This is accentuated for international High Level PLSs, for which high travel and subsistence costs and short duration make such seminars three to five times more expensive than similar events conducted by EDI in most national capitals. With more participants, however, the marginal cost of additional participants would be one-third of the average cost per participant-day for three days, or less (if conducted at a less expensive venue than Italy).
34. The Evaluation team concludes, therefore, that AMTA training can be cost-effective if ones bears in mind the relationship between venue, number of participants and duration of training activities, relative to preparation and other overhead (i.e. fixed) costs. This would argue in favour of seminars for a larger number of persons at the sub-regional (2-3 countries) and national levels, with a larger participation by national training institutions than in the past. Thus, when the optimum number of participants and duration of a training event is reached, the marginal cost per participant would be equivalent to only the variable cost per additional participant (for transportation and subsistence) as long as the extra participant does not require increasing fixed costs (i.e. trainers, equipment and facilities).
35. The 1986 Mid-Term Evaluation (MTE) recommended emphatically that a few basic indicators be used to monitor achievement of each objective. The Evaluation team is not aware that this has been done by AMTA's Secretariat. Similarly, the agreements entered into with OAU/STRC, EDI and AfDB, IFAD stipulate that periodic reports (quarterly or as specified by the Steering Committee) should be submitted to IFAD, regarding progress and achievements of AMTA. Based on information available in IFAD files, final reports were received for only the first two sub-programmes, and an interim (1988) report for AMTA III about half-way before its completion. Similar lapses for financial reporting and auditing were also evident. These were due in part to staff reduction at the AMTA Secretariat and to the highly compressed schedule of AMTA III inherited by the new AMTA Coordinator in 1988, after the position had been vacant for one year.
36. The Interim Evaluation team concludes that AMTA is an appropriate instrument for training agricultural project managers and senior staff, and, within limits, for creating more favourable conditions for project implementation. Consequently, it should be continued, bearing in mind that original assumptions about the sense of commitment of senior officials and the capacity of the training institutions must be changed to conform with reality. Moreover, AMTA can be conducted in more cost-effective ways than it has been during the last six years.
37. The basic framework of AMTA is sound but needs to include specific actions to cut across the barriers between:
(a) the project organisation and the agricultural sector ministries;
(b) officials of the sector ministries and the public sector policy and administrative environment (e.g., customs, procurement); and
(c) the project organisation and the small farmers who are the project beneficiaries. These changes would require:
(i) bolder action in translating the assumption that creating awareness among policy makers and senior officials about the necessity of changing the policy environment and administrative procedures, in order to obtain the firm commitment of senior officials to support AMTA in their country. The national and international PLSs are the appropriate means for this purpose, but the AMTA objectives and instrumentalities should be explicit in the seminar agendas. AMTA should recognise, however, that some of the changes in policies and procedures are in the domain of sector and structural adjustment lending, rather than in the context of project implementation. The timing and venue of PLSs should be reconsidered, and they should be attended by many of the same senior officials;
(ii) incorporating AMTA training in the design (with appropriate financial commitments) and implementation of projects financed by the three partners (AfDB, EDI and IFAD), and the cooperating institutions of IFAD (mainly UNDP/OPS). This should include both an assessment of the need for AMTA as a training activity in the management component of new and ongoing projects, and an acknowledgement by supervision missions of any perceived effects or deficiencies;
(iii) encouraging the three AMTA sponsors and lending institutions to finance investment in national training institutions, as part of their project financing, to create the needed capacity to conduct AMTA programmes in the future; and
(iv) training a sufficient number of managers and senior staff, instead of a selected few, so that after taking into account reassignment and other causes of attrition, the pool of trained staff will not be depleted and dispersed. This implies training more persons per project and country (i.e., more projects). Candidates for training should include de facto managers of sectoral and sub-sectoral projects.
38. The NAS is the most basic instrument for designing the content and process of each AMTA sub-programme. It should also assess the training needs of national trainers and institutions, and not limit itself to a few ongoing projects and only 4-5 participants from each project. The selection of projects and participants should be the last, rather than the earliest, decisions made in the NAS process. The NAS method should be revised, as follows:
(a) allow sufficient time for the process to be a deliberative one, rather than 2-3 weeks with tight deadlines;
(b) consider the management staff of all projects financed by the three institutions as candidates, and sub-sector managers as well when their function or service (e.g. agricultural extension) are crucial to the success of the projects;
(c) serve the needs of three "clients" of AMTA: ministry staff, project staff and national trainers, in a discriminating way (i.e., with an appropriate questionnaire for each "client");
(d) be particularly sensitive to the training needs of functional specialists who have become managers in their specialty (e.g. finance, credit, livestock, etc.), placing special emphasis on skills that enable project staff to improve communication with project beneficiaries (e.g., with respect to agricultural extension, research, and credit); and
(e) assess the qualifications of national trainers in order to match them with the requirements of AMTA, in terms of educational level, pedagogical and subject matter experience, and the career plans of the trainers. More than one trainer per training institution, and preferably some from ministries, should be included in the NAS.
39. The main complaints that the PIP is rigid, i.e., it entails too many steps, and that there is never enough time allowed to do it whether it is done in five days or ten days, are founded on insufficient training and the way PIP has been used (or misused) by project managers in practice, without the guidance of experienced trainers. Too many participants think of the PIP as a panacea for overcoming poor project design or conditions for its implementation, rather than a process with which to change management style.
40. Training institutions should stress that learning the PIP process is a repetitive but flexible and iterative activity, that requires guided retraining. They should stress that it can be successfully conducted when:
(a) all senior and other project staff with key responsibilities attend;
(b) the group is free from daily routines to conduct the PIP in the time that has been set aside (one day per week or per month, for a total of three to five days);
(c) there are no boundaries among participants, so that managers and supervisors do not dominate the process, but are equal co-participants; and
(d) the sessions are run by an external trainer, to maintain the integrity of the process and ensure that there is a free flow of ideas, without intimidation whatsoever. Trainers should also encourage the more creative use of the PIP from that of a means for preparing comprehensive project action plans to its use in preparing such plans for individual project components and functions: for example, the budget process; reaching and involving the target population; improving the performance of specific components (e.g., credit, marketing, research and extension, etc.) that are vital to project success.
41. Bottlenecks and delays in the publication of training materials need to be overcome so that participants and national trainers obtain the materials in time. In order to bring AMTA to the attention of a much larger audience, an abridged version of the AMTA training materials should be published and widely distributed throughout the agricultural professions in Africa (similar to those published for the Training and Visit system of extension, and on Monitoring and Evaluation).
42. The cost-effectiveness of AMTA is not firmly established, in view of the different unit costs (per participant and participant/week) among various training activities. High Level Policy Seminars are the least cost-effective, while training activities for project staff have measured reasonably well against three cost-effectiveness criteria. Improvements can be achieved as follows:
(a) for small seminars (e.g., senior officials, project managers and procurement specialists), by applying "marginal cost" in planning training activities -- especially the venue -- and achieving economies of scale by enroling a sufficient number of participants to reduce average costs per participant-week or participant-day; and
(b) by reducing the cost effect of absenteeism and drop-out of participants before the end of a sub-programme. In addition to asking for better monitoring and help from national training institutions, absenteeism can be offset by enroling 10-15% more participants, in order to keep average cost per participant-week to its budgeted level.Monitoring Performance
43. The 1986 MTE recommendations for monitoring AMTA performances by the Secretariat are still valid and are reiterated by the Evaluation team. It would appear that the three sponsoring institution, acting through the AMTA Steering Committee, would require more systematic monitoring and reporting of progress and programme financing. Financial reporting should be according to the same accounting conventions to make it easier to measure cost-effectiveness.Institution-Building and the Sustainability of AMTA
44. A key assumption that needs to be reconsidered is whether (and how) AMTA, as an externally induced innovation, can be the instrument for institution-building that was intended. In the prevailing policy environment and administrative system of the agricultural sector ministries in most African countries in the 1980s, AMTA did not benefit from the leadership and commitment that it needed to become a sustained, "demand-driven", institutional innovation for training agricultural sector and project managers. The minimum set of conditions necessary for institution-building and the sustainability of AMTA are:
(a) strong leadership with support from both outside and within the training institution;
(b) proficiency (i.e., sufficient number and experience of trainers) to "deliver" relevant skills;
(c) an effective institutional demand for their training that justifies fixed investment, generates income and, if necessary, public sector subsidies;
(d) a broad and clear mandate (doctrine) from governments or the institution authorities, which can be readily translated into programme objectives and contents; and
(e) positive linkages with ministries and other organisations that will benefit from the innovation.
45. Only the first two conditions are met in some countries, namely where there is a well established national training institution, or locally established regional training institution -- for example GIMPA in Ghana, CESAG in Senegal, the CPF in Burundi and the three PAID national centres. Since the last three conditions are not satisfied, the task of institution building is insufficiently advanced to guarantee that AMTA will continue without a new injection of external technical and financial assistance. Leadership and commitment by African regional and national institutions, and affirmative action by senior officials in agriculture and education are needed to internalise AMTA, rather than continue it as a "supply-driven" technical assistance operation. At the regional level, the OAU/STRC, AfDB, and regional training institutions such as CESAG, PAID and ESAMI should find it in their interest to take the lead, and persuade policy-makers at the highest level, especially the ministries concerned with agriculture and rural development, to support AMTA financially, to recognise its contribution to capacity building and to better sector and project management.
Proyecto de Desarrollo Rural Integrado Sur de Loja (1992)
Evaluación preterminal resumen ejecutivo
El área del proyecto corresponde a cuatro subáreas: Pindal, en la Cuenca del río Alamor, Catacocha, en la cuenca del río Catamayo, Sosoranga (río Sabiango), y Lucero (río Pindo). Estas subáreas ocupan en conjunto aproximadamente 127 000 ha. y están cubiertas predominantemente por pastos y arbustos de baja productividad forrajera y -en menor medida- por cultivos agrícolas y vegetación arbórea de porte medio. El clima presenta temperaturas medias anuales moderadas (alrededor de 16 °C) y aptas para la producción agrícola. Las deficiencias climáticas principales radican en el régimen de lluvias, algo exiguo para las condiciones de evapotranspiración del área (valores anuales medios de 700 mm) y muy concentrado en enero-julio. El período de sequía, muy intensa, es aproximadamente de siete meses por año.
Las limitaciones edáficas son muy importantes. En primer lugar, los suelos son en general esqueléticos (texturas gruesas, con bajo contenido en materia orgánica y nutrientes) y poco profundos. En segundo lugar, las cuatro áreas poseen pendientes pronunciadas y laderas abruptas, susceptibles de erosión. A pesar de ello, la mayoría de los pequeños establecimientos (ampliamente predominantes en número en la región) dedica parte considerable de sus recursos naturales a actividades agrícolas de baja productividad. Sin embargo, la ganadería bovina es la actividad económica predominante en el área.
Los principales problemas del área son la tenencia concentrada de la tierra, las deficiencias en la infraestructura física (sobre todo caminos), la tecnología rudimentaria, la escasa productividad agrícola y ganadera y -por extensión- los ingresos limitados de las familias campesinas, gran parte de las cuales deben clasificarse por estándares internacionales como pobres. Estos problemas son agravados por la precaria organización campesina, que redunda en esquemas de comercialización no asociativos y, por ello, en la captura de excedentes elevados por parte de los comerciantes intermediarios.
El proyecto debe beneficiar a 7 000 familias (aproximadamente 38 500 personas) que habitan en el área del proyecto.
Los objetivos del proyecto son el incremento de la producción y productividad agropecuarias y del ingreso de las familias campesinas, el mejoramiento de la distribución del ingreso, el aumento de la ocupación de la mano de obra, la preservación de los recursos naturales y el crecimiento de la participación campesina en el diseño y ejecución de las políticas de desarrollo rural.
Componentes: 1) subproyecto productivo (crédito, asistencia técnica, desarrollo forestal, granja ganadera y comercialización agropecuaria), 2) subproyecto infraestructura (caminos vecinales, saneamiento rural, salud y educación primaria), 3) subproyecto organización y capacitación, y 4) subproyectos regularización fundaria, seguimiento y evaluación y Unidad Ejecutora.
Los incrementos de los niveles productivos deben superar tres limitantes claves: el uso de variedades poco productivas, la preparación inadecuada del suelo y la escasa utilización de insumos modernos.
La fase de arranque e inicio de la ejecución del DRI-Sur (año 1986) estuvo signada por el proceso de cambio de status institucional de la SEDRI por la recién creada Subsecretaría de Desarrollo Rural (SSDR), dentro del Ministerio de Bienestar Social. Este proceso significó dos aspectos: por un lado, un nuevo retraso en el inicio de la ejecución, en la medida en que fue necesario, en lo formal, ratificar los instrumentos legales (conveios) suscritos con anterioridad con los ejecutores y una consulta legal del BID sobre si hubo o no "cambio del Ejecutor". Por otro lado, este proceso provocó una descoordinación institucional, en la medida en que la nueva ubicación del Programa Nacional, al interior de un Ministerio, generó competencias de otros Ministerios (MAG, por ejemplo) con igual status que el MBS y lo que es peor se disminutó la capacidad de convocatoria del organismo coordinador.
Aunque en la formulación del proyecto se definió a la SEDRI como responsable de la administración y ejecución del proyecto, estas funciones fueron asumidas por el Ministerio de Bienestar Social (MBS), a través de la Subsecretaría de Desarrollo Rural (SSDR). El BID, como institución cooperante, desempeñó un papel importante en momentos de cambios institucionales y/o de interferencias de tipo político.
Si bien en la formulación del proyecto no se establecieron mecanismos para apoyar a la mujer rural del área, en la ejecución se incorporó a la mujer campesina a las actividades de casi todos los componentes.
En febrero de 1992 el proyecto se encontraba en una situación de acefalía y de ruptura de las actividades de apoyo a los pequeños campesinos, provocada tanto por la finalización del período de ejecución con recursos externos, cuanto por divergencias -de tipo político- entre el organismo nacional de conducción del programa y el organismo regional co-ejecutor del proyecto. Situación bastante delicada si se considera que fue precisamente el año anterior el período de mayores ejecuciones del proyecto, cuyas inversiones no ha alcanzado la maduración suficiente como para una retirada total de la estructura institucional.
A pesar de los problemas de falta de un diseño de la metodología para la capacitación y la escasa y poca capacitación de los técnicos que se llevó a cabo, la capacitación de campesinos tuvo un avance aceptable. Los distintos eventos de capacitación cubrieron temas agrícolas, pecuarios, de forestación y de conservación de recursos naturales, de salud y nutrición, de aspectos legales y reforma agraria, de comercialización y de educación y desarrollo comunitario.
Los componentes de infraestructura económica y social tuvieron un buen desempeño a nivel del cumplimiento cuantitativo de las metas y desembolsos. Sin embargo, la ejecución de estos componentes estuvieron afectados por problemas técnicos, administrativos y de operación.
Con el propósito de apoyar la ejecución del proyecto, en 1985 la SEDRI implementó un convenio de cooperación técnica con el Instituto Latinoamericano de Planificación Económica y Social (ILPES), con recursos provenientes del préstamo no reembolsable del BID. La implementación de este convenio constituyó un aporte valioso durante la primera fase de ejecución del proyecto en que, por las restricciones presupuestarias, no fue posible contar con personal suficiente ni en forma estable. Este convenio de cooperación constituyó un soporte técnico que estableció las bases para la posterior ejecución del proyecto.
A partir de 1988 se inicia la formulación de pequeños microproyectos que recogen varias iniciativas campesinas. Frente a estas iniciativas, el proyecto pudo establecer un mecanismo de financiamiento (los FODECOs) que permitió llevar a la práctica su ejecución, sobre la base de los recursos del componente de capacitación, destinados al "fortalecimiento de la organización". Los FODECOs permitieron impulsar actividades creativas y no tradicionales como las de agroindustrias o artesanías que no fueron contempladas en el diseño inicial y que representan, en zonas de gran fragilidad agroecológica como es el área del proyecto, las únicas alternativas para lograr un desarrollo autosustentado y el aprovechamiento de los recursos humanos disponibles.
Hubo una inconsistencia en las propuestas de algunos de los componentes con la realidad del área. La propuesta del proyecto careció de un diagnóstico adecuado del área, que permitiera mirar tanto los problemas de los grupos campesinos como las tendencias en la dinámica social y productiva. En el diagnóstico no se caracterizó lo suficientemente bien a los grupos campesinos, al patrón de acumulación de la fincas de los potenciales beneficiarios del proyecto ni al entorno que los afecta.
La utilización de una base estadística, centrada en información secundaria más la formulación de propuestas gestadas entre el grupo de técnicos y sin participación de los beneficiarios provocó la definición de componentes poco precisos y el diseño de múltiples actividades, que significaban muchas veces saltos tecnológicos difíciles de alcanzar: 1) en el período temporal de ejecución de un proyecto (4-6 años), o 2) a partir de un nivel de producción bastante rudimentario, como es el caso de la producción agropecuaria de la zona.
En la propuesta del proyecto se diseñaron una larga lista de actividades en cada componente sin priorizar aquellas tendientes a solucionar los principales problemas del área. De esta manera, se llegaron a formular componentes que tuvieron que reformularse para hacer factible su ejecución.
La falta de adecuación de las acciones propuestas a la dinámica social y a las condiciones agroecológicas se reflejó en la falta de indicadores de los efectos e impactos esperados en la población beneficiaria, lo que impidió la programación de tareas y la operatoria por parte de los organismos co-ejecutores. Esta situación, por otra parte, volvió difícil realizar el seguimiento y la evaluación del proyecto.
La fase de estudios previos a la negociación del préstamo duró varios años. Esta situación generó frustraciones en la población del área, por la demora en el inicio de las acciones.
La ejecución del proyecto contó con un doble espacio de coordinación: uno local, débil y encargado de parte de la ejecución, y otro nacional, responsable de la ejecución global. Este hecho tuvo repercusiones serias en la ejecución del proyecto. Las más directas se refieren a: 1) la dicotomía en la gerencia del proyecto, lo que a su vez repercutió en la debilidad institucional del jefe de la Unidad Ejecutora en la gestión local del proyecto, y 2) la necesidad de que muchos problemas surgidos en Loja (sede del proyecto) tengan que resolverse en Quito.
La Unidad Ejecutora careció en muchos períodos de falta de técnicos, por los constantes movimientos de personal realizados unilateralmente por los co-ejecutores.
La capacidad legal del jefe del proyecto para poder contratar, adquirir o comprar fue muy reducida hasta bien avanzado el período de ejecución. Esto impidió la adquisición oportuna de bienes y servicios requeridos por el proyecto, debiendo estos realizarse desde Quito.
El cambio del organismo ejecutor de la SEDRI a la SSDR provocó una descoordinación institucional, ya que la nueva ubicación del Programa Nacional, al interior de un Ministerio (en vez de depender directamente del presidente) generó competencias de otros ministerios con igual estatus que el MBS y -lo que es peor- se disminuyó la capacidad de convocatoria del organismo coordinador.
Por lo anterior, cada institución co-ejecutora comenzó la ejecución siguiendo sus propios criterios (y conveniencias), generando desfases e impidiendo el necesario equilibrio e integración de las acciones de desarrollo.
Existió un número insuficiente de recursos humanos en relación al diseño original del proyecto. Además, la calidad del personal asignado no fue satisfactoria, tanto en términos de formación como de experiencia. En gran medida, esto ocurrió porque en el diseño del proyecto, si bien se especificó el número y la calidad de los técnicos requeridos por la Unidad Ejecutora, no se aseguraron los mecanismos para proveerlos. Esto afectó la ejecución de componentes clave, como asistencia técnica y capacitación.
Existió un alto grado de movilidad del personal, ocasionado tanto por requerimientos de las instituciones nominadoras cuanto por gestiones de los propios técnicos, que estaban descontentos.
En relación a la calidad del personal, es de destacar la asignación de personal "problemático" a la Unidad Ejecutora por parte de los organismos co-ejecutores. Además, en momentos de mayor crisis y ante la falta de personal, se contrató a estudiantes de último año de Universidad. Por ello, la calidad del personal asignado estuvo afectada tanto por técnicos con poca experiencia y baja motivación para trabajar con pequeños campesinos y, en el caso de los estudiantes, con intereses distintos a las necesidades del proyecto (por ejemplo, la elaboración de tesis, el contacto con los profesores, etc.).
Para superar las deficiencias de calidad del personal asignado no se diseñó un plan sistemático de capacitación, que incorporara módulos sobre aspectos técnicos y metodológicos y que pudiera ser reajustado anualmente de acuerdo a las prioridades del proyecto.
Los nombramientos de varios directores y/o jefes de áreas no se realizaron sobre la base de criterios de formación técnica y experiencia de trabajo con pequeños campesinos en áreas con serios problemas agroecológicos, lo que afectó negativamente a la conducción y gerencia del proyecto.
La institución cooperante tuvo una rigidez excesiva en la aplicación de sus normas y procedimientos, lo que obstaculizó la ágil transferencia de recursos. Además, el manejo de los convenios de préstamo BID volvió engorrosos y hasta contradictorios los trámites.
En la formulación del proyecto no se establecieron mecanismos para apoyar a la mujer rural del área, que juega un papel muy importante en la estrategia productiva de la zona.
El desmantelamiento apresurado de técnicos, vehículos y oficinas y la dificultad de un diálogo amplio y rápido entre los organismos involucrados está volviendo difícil la readecuación de las acciones y la continuación de los apoyos en momentos críticos de algunas actividades del proyecto (como los FODECOs).
En el diseño del proyecto no se presenta una metodología adecuada para la capacitación de campesinos y técnicos, únicamente se señala el principio de privilegiar la capacitación en servicio, bajo el esquema de "aprender y enseñar haciendo".
Varios de los grupos que ejecutan microproyectos financiados por FODECOs requieren de capacitación técnica específica par la actividad, y casi todos ellos tienen problemas de organización de la empresa y de acceso al mercado.
Se incorporaron, a partir de 1990, promotores agropecuarios campesinos (PAC) que no fueron previstos en el diseño del proyecto y que constituyen un importante mecanismo de participación campesina en el proceso de transferencia de tecnología. Los PAC son campesinos designados por la organización y capacitados por la Unidad Ejecutora para actuar como enlace entre los técnicos y la comunidad en el seguimiento y apoyo de la adopción tecnológica. Por se reciente su acción no se conocen sus impactos.
La priorización de las metas de infraestructura se realizó sin contar con la participación campesina, por lo que se seleccionaron obras en lugares inadecuados o no prioritarios.
Algunos de los componentes (sobre todo caminos rurales) carecieron de los estudios y diseños de las obras a construir, lo que desplazó la ejecución a períodos casi inejecutables.
Los procesos de contratación fueron largos y complicados, lo que encareció al país el costo de las obras por los constantes reajustes de precios, provocando frustraciones entre la población, ante los retrasos en el inicio de las obras.
La propuesta de seguimiento y evaluación careció del diseño de indicadores de desempeño y eficiencia que faciliten el análisis del avance del proyecto y la detección de problemas sobre la marcha, lo que hubiera permitido la implementación sistemática del seguimiento del proyecto. Tampoco se incluyeron indicadores de los efectos e impactos esperados con la ejecución.
La USE no se conformó hasta el primer semestre de 1988, situación ocasionada por los siguientes factores: demora del BID en dar respuesta a la reformulación presentada por la SSDR, interferencias de tipo político en la contratación del personal, y falta de presión de la propia Unidad Ejecutora.
Si bien la USE estableció las discrepancias entre lo planificado y lo ejecutado y entendió las causas de estas discrepancias, faltó la capacitación del nivel gerencial para aprovechar las recomendaciones establecidas y mejorar la dirección del proyecto. Esta falta de acercamiento entre el nivel ejecutivo y la USE provocó -en gran medida- un desperdicio de esfuerzos y recursos y poca incidencia en la toma de decisiones. La ejecución de las tareas de seguimiento y evaluación tampoco fue comprendida por los restantes niveles (operativos y técnicos) de la Unidad Ejecutora, quienes consideraban -en unos casos- una carga adicional a su trabajo rutinario y -en otros casos- los asumían como una fiscalización molesta. Este hecho incidió en la calidad y oportunidad de la información necesaria para seguimiento y en la falta de interés para conocer los resultados de la evaluación.
El arrendamiento o 'leasing' deben considerarse como alternativas eventuales a la compra de vehículos. La demora en la llegada de los vehículos al área del proyecto puede perjudicar notablemente su ejecución. Este retraso puede deberse a distintos factores (incluyendo el régimen internacional de licitaciones), pero es conveniente acelerar el proceso de adquisición de los vehículos, por lo que es recomendable explorar dos alternativas: una es arrendar los vehículos, y la otra -que sería una combinación de la precedente y la tradicional- consistiría en el alquiler con opción a compra ('leasing').
Un microfondo rotativo puede asegurar la entrega oportuna de materiales en actividades de forestación y otras. La ejecución de algunos componentes puede retrasarse por la falta de oportunidad en la entrega de insumos. Estos problemas se pueden evitar, en gran medida, si se dota a la entidad ejecutora del componente de un "microfondo rotativo" (estableciendo un límite máximo que sea compatible con el ordenamiento legal del país).
Se debe complementar la entrega de activos a los beneficiarios con información plena sobre las condiciones de dicha entrega y con capacitación y apoyo técnico y contable. Se debe informar sobre la propiedad de los activos entregados y sobre la posibilidad, o no, de disponer libremente de los ingresos generados. La falta de transparencia puede desincentivar a los beneficiarios, lo cual podría evitarse informándoles con claridad sobre las condiciones de la entrega, por ejemplo, a través de un breve folleto que indique, si es el caso, que se trata de una donación con compromiso de conservación por diez años, que se trata de una venta a crédito, etc.
En la formulación del proyecto se deben diseñar más nítidamente las funciones de la Unidad Ejecutora, para facilitar la gerencia del proyecto. Se deberá descentralizar más la ejecución, las decisiones y el manejo de los recursos, permitiendo que la dirección del proyecto cuente con mayor control sobre su ejecución global.
La ejecución de nuevos proyectos en el país y en general en la provincia de Loja requerirá contar con una mayor participación de instituciones locales, que permitan la resolución de problemas y la toma de decisiones a nivel local, evitando recurrir constantemente a Quito, a los niveles ejecutivos de los organismos nacionales que tienen su sede central en la capital. La incorporación de instituciones locales, por otra parte, facilitará la continuación de las acciones al finalizar la fase de inversiones externas, permitiendo una estrategia de despegue del proyecto gradual y ordenada, en función de las necesidades de los grupos campesinos y su problemática.
La Unidad Ejecutora debería contar con un espacio de coordinación y toma de decisiones local, pero al más alto nivel de la Unidad Ejecutora, en el que deberían participar los representantes, con capacidad de toma de decisiones, de todos los co-ejecutores. Además deberán participar: uno o varios delegados de los campesinos, un representante del organismo cooperante y el jefe de la Unidad Ejecutora. De esta manera se podría agilizar la resolución de problemas en forma local y oportuna, a la vez que se podrá facilitar la labor gerencial del jefe de la Unidad Ejecutora.
El organismo ejecutor de proyectos de desarrollo rural debe contar con un estatus apropiado para lograr la convocatoria de los restantes co-ejecutores. Es necesario realizar una programación "concertada" con todos los ejecutores, para evitar que las prioridades originadas en los organismos del nivel nacional afecten la ejecución de un proyecto específico.
Es necesario prever en el momento de la formulación del proyecto: 1) los requerimientos y el tipo de personal, así como los mecanismos que aseguren su dotación efectiva, y 2) la capacitación sistemática y permanente de técnicos. Es necesario generar incentivos para el personal, tanto económicos como extra-económicos (capacitación dentro y fuera del país). Es necesario establecer criterios técnicos (de formación y experiencia) para el nombramiento de los directivos del proyecto, sobre los cuales puedan opinar el organismo cooperante y el propio FIDA.
Se deben descentralizar los recursos de cooperación técnica externa, que generalmente actúan bastante centralizadamente por su vinculación con los organismos nacionales (ministerios, institutos técnicos, etc.). Cuando esto ocurre, se obtienen resultados bastante positivos, como la sobrevivencia misma del proyecto. La experiencia de mantener especialistas externos, no vinculados a los vaivenes de la política local, puede ser la garantía para evitar que incidan en el proyecto criterios distintos a los objetivos del mismo.
Es necesario que en la formulación del proyecto y en el diagnóstico se analice la racionalidad de funcionamiento de las pequeñas unidades campesinas, para poder detectar el papel de la mujer campesina en la estrategia de sobrevivencia familiar. El diagnóstico debe señalar la heterogeneidad de las unidades productivas y la situación heterogénea de distintos grupos de mujeres, diferenciadas por el tipo de unidad económica y por edad, requiriendo cada uno de ellos apoyos específicos.
Dado que la mujer rural cuanta con menor nivel de educación y calificación de su fuerza de trabajo y por la diversidad de papeles que desempeña, es necesario considerar esfuerzos específicos para su capacitación adecuada y sostenida.
Cada proceso de desarrollo requiere una revisión y análisis de la situación existente en el área de intervención al final del período de ejecución, para diseñar una estrategia de consolidación de las acciones iniciadas y/o de reforzamiento de los procesos aún débilmente consolidados. Esta estrategia de finalización de un proyecto en algunas ocasiones no requiere de grandes inversiones, como en el momento de ejecución, sino de apoyos específicos, que pueden ser asumidos con recursos nacionales y -en otras ocasiones- requerirá la gestión de nuevos recursos y de la implementación de mecanismos de transferencia de la conducción de las acciones de desarrollo a las propias organizaciones del área.
La estrategia de finalización del proyecto, con la previsión de los posibles mecanismos de consolidación de las acciones, deberá establecerse al inicio mismo del proyecto. Quizás sea conveniente, que en los convenios de préstamo externo se negocie el compromiso del gobierno para dar continuidad a las actividades emprendidas con los recursos del préstamo.
La participación de instituciones locales y/o regionales deberá ser considerada en la formulación de nuevos proyectos, como garantía para continuar las acciones. Para esto es necesario que durante la ejecución del proyecto se fortalezcan estas instituciones de tal manera que puedan asumir su tarea después de que el mismo termine.
El aspecto complementario, pero indispensable en la estrategia de finalización del proyecto, será la incorporación de las organizaciones de beneficiarios en el control de los recursos y servicios iniciados con el proyecto. Por tanto, la capacitación en gestión empresaria es uno de los aspectos a ser priorizados en la etapa de despegue del proyecto.
Es necesario que de forma inmediata se impulse un proceso de capacitación en gerencia y administración de pequeños negocios y en sistemas elementales de contabilidad. En caso contrario, a pesar de que la experiencia de los microproyectos es novedosa, puede experimentar fracasos por el contenido paternalista en que pueden derivar estas donaciones.
Priorizar los esfuerzos de capacitación del equipo técnico en los primeros años de ejecución del proyecto y reforzarla en los años siguientes. La capacitación de técnicos debe ser conducida por especialistas con experiencia y solvencia técnica.
Establecer canales de comunicación y estrategias de coordinación entre las actividades de extensión, crédito, comercialización y dotación de insumos.
Capacitar a los extensionistas y técnicos de la institución bancaria en la elaboración de planes de inversión con criterios de rentabilidad.
Involucrar a todo el personal de la Unidad Ejecutora en la capacitación sobre organización, gerencia y administración de pequeñas empresas, computación y economía campesina.
Incorporar desde el momento de la formulación la participación de los beneficiarios, para priorizar las obras requeridas por la población.
Asegurar la elaboración de los estudios y diseños de las obras en forma paralela a la negociación de los recursos para el financiamiento del proyecto.
La planificación operativa anual con participación campesina debe constituir un instrumento de la gerencia para incorporar reformulaciones o vacíos existentes en la formulación del proyecto.
Se debe capitalizar la experiencia desarrollada por el DRISUR con los microproyectos financiados por los FODECOs, como un mecanismo de apoyo a actividades no agropecuarias, que bien pueden ser la alternativa para otras áreas con condiciones agroecológicas frágiles. Se recomienda, para ello, sistematizar las experiencias más representativas y traducirlas a pequeños cuadernos de trabajo, que pueden ser utilizados por las comunidades campesinas (en círculos de investigación) de otros proyectos.
Durante la ejecución del proyecto se debe transferir a la organización campesina la información relacionada con la planificación operativa y con los resultados del seguimiento y evaluación, como un mecanismo idóneo para democratizar los proyectos y facilitar la participación campesina.
Es importante un diseño que permita flexibilidad en la implementación. De esta forma, se podrán atender demandas de las comunidades que no hayan sido explícitamente contempladas en le diseño original.
Los prácticamente inevitables cambios de personal, tanto en la Unidad Ejecutora del proyecto como en las instituciones co-ejecutoras, hacen que el nuevo personal no esté interiorizado con el proyecto. Como no siempre es posible hacer cursos o seminarios para comunicar tanto los objetivos generales del programa como su enfoque y los aspectos específicos del mismo, es de utilidad preparar un breve folleto que describa el proyecto y que sea entregado a los funcionarios que se incorporan tardiamente (el folleto también podría servir para difundir el proyecto a un público más amplio).
En los proyectos con transferencia de tecnologías, además de la factibilidad tecnológica, es necesario examinar la viabilidad socioeconómica de las actividades y tecnologías propuestas.
No sobreestimar el componente de crédito. En la mayoría de los proyectos de desarrollo rural la demanda de crédito es considerablemente sobreestimada, dada las condiciones de alto riesgo de la agricultura y las características de los productores de las áreas de los proyectos FIDA.
Minimizar el riesgo de pérdidas de los cultivos puede ser más importante que maximizar los rendimientos. En una agricultura de alto riesgo climático los productores están particularmente interesados en no perder la cosecha, más que en obtener ocasionalmente rendimientos excepcionales. Por lo tanto, la variabilidad de los rendimientos debe ser tomada en cuenta junto con sus niveles medios.
Los candidatos a directores de proyecto y jefes de sub-proyectos deberían cumplir con determinadas condiciones necesarias de idoneidad profesional.
Además de los incentivos salariales que se pueden incluir en el diseño del proyecto, es importante suplementar esos incentivos con estímulos no salariales para el personal del proyecto (pasantías, visitas a otros proyectos y participación en cursos y seminarios). Así, los técnicos del proyecto percibirán que pueden obtener beneficios legítimos de su participación en el mismo.
Se debe prever un cierre ordenado del proyecto y la continuidad y consolidación de sus actividades. El desmantelamiento del proyecto (retirada de vehículos y personal técnico) al finalizar el período de financiación externa puede comprometer la continuidad de las actividades emprendidas con la inversión realizada por el proyecto. Por ello, la transferencia de activos a los beneficiarios y el modo en que continuarán las actividades iniciadas por el proyecto deben determinarse ex-ante, estableciendo un compromiso explícito del gobierno en ese sentido.
Un proyecto no puede resolver el conjunto de problemas que afectan a un grupo campesino en un área determinada. Por tanto, un factor de éxito para proyectos de desarrollo rural será la identificación de aquellos problemas que constituyen verdaderos cuellos de botella para el desarrollo de los grupos humanos y para la producción campesina.
Proyectos bien formulados deberán partir de diagnósticos claros, que señalen cuáles son las características físicas y ecológicas del área y cuáles son los procesos sociales y culturales que determinan el patrón de acumulación en la zona, priorizando aquellos problemas que pueden ser modificados por el proyecto y aquellos que pueden constituir factores condicionantes para lograr tales cambios.
Es necesario realizar diagnósticos analíticos y dinámicos que superen la simple descripción de datos de un área determinada. Esto implica que se estudien procesos, no hechos sueltos. Para ello es necesario no solamente utilizar información secundaria, que es útil en la medida en que complemente el conocimiento que se adquiere con los propios campesinos en un proceso de interacción directa con el grupo humano potencialmente beneficiario del proyecto.
Es necesario realizar diagnósticos y propuestas participativas, es decir, incorporar a los propios beneficiarios desde la etapa inicial de recolección de información y continuar con ellos en la detección de problemas y en su priorización, que permita definir las propuestas más adecuadas a los principales problemas que bloquean el desarrollo integral del grupo campesino al que está dirigido el proyecto. De esta manera, se evitará generar expectativas por actividades ajenas a la realidad o frustraciones ante períodos muy largos de estudios sin participación campesina y sin el inicio de acciones.
Es necesario formular proyectos flexibles, que permitan incorporar adecuaciones a la propia dinámica socio-económica y agroecológica del área. Esto no quiere decir que se diseñen proyectos imprecisos, sino que se determinen con claridad los problemas centrales a resolver, frente a los cuales puede haber un cierto grado de flexibilidad para readecuar las acciones a situaciones impredecibles en el momento de la formulación, reprogramando el proyecto.
Los procesos de desarrollo rural, en áreas de gran fragilidad agroecológica y altos índices de pobreza de la población, requieren como punto de partida la elaboración de diagnósticos dinámicos, que muestren: 1) las principales restricciones físicas y ecológicas que afectan a la producción local, 2) los factores económicos, sociales, culturales y políticos que inciden en los modelos de acumulación de las pequeñas unidades económicas, 3) las potencialidades de desarrollo del área y 4) los factores condicionantes que pueden incidir en este proceso.
El reconocimiento de los principales problemas y de las potencialidades de desarrollo permitirán identificar las prioridades de acción a ser ejecutadas por el proyecto incorporando la flexibilidad requerida por la dinámica social sobre la que actúa. Identificación de problemas y priorización de alternativas requerirán la participación directa de los beneficiarios. Por tanto, el proceso de formulación de proyectos deberá realizarse con la metodología de la planificación participativa, entendida como un conjunto de mecanismos operativos que facilitan la incorporación de los usuarios, con su propio marco de referencia.
Deben realizarse autodiagnósticos por parte de la propia comunidad durante la fase de ejecución, con las distintas organizaciones y/o grupos que se van incorporando al proyecto. Esta propuesta lleva implícita la necesidad de trabajar con la organización y de capacitarla para facilitar la transferencia de conocimientos, que hagan posible que la propia organización investigue y sistematice su realidad y plantee alternativas para solucionarla.
Es necesario que en la formulación de proyectos de desarrollo rural se definan claramente los indicadores de eficiencia para facilitar las tareas de seguimiento y los indicadores de efectos e impactos para realizar la evaluación del proyecto.
El seguimiento debe facilitar el análisis continuo y periódico por parte de la gerencia, sobre el avance de la ejecución del proyecto, para procurar el logro de los objetivos del mismo y por tanto debe ejecutarse al interior de la Unidad Ejecutora. En tanto que la evaluación debe entenderse como un proceso encaminado a determinar sistemáticamente y objetivamente la pertinencia, eficiencia y eficacia de las acciones ejecutadas y sus efectos e impactos en la población, a la luz de los objetivos globales del proyecto. Por lo tanto debe tomar distancia y ejecutarse desde fuera de la Unidad Ejecutora, por parte de organismos independientes de ésta y con experiencia en investigación socio-económica (las universidades pueden ser ejecutoras idóneas para realizar la evaluación de proyectos).
Es necesario un proceso sostenido de capacitación en seguimiento y evaluación para la Unidad Ejecutora, incluidos todos los niveles gerenciales. Esta capacitación deberá impartirse al inicio de la ejecución del proyecto y debe reforzarse en períodos posteriores. En lo posible, para la capacitación inicial se deberá seleccionar a especialistas (nacionales o externos) con formación adecuada y experiencia en la materia, para que pueda entrenar a la propia Unidad Ejecutora, quien se encargará de la capacitación posterior de los restantes niveles del proyecto.
Para facilitar la implementación del seguimiento se deberá elaborar un manual que ordene el listado de indicadores, los desglose por componentes y objetivos específicos y establezca el cruce de indicadores necesarios par el análisis y oriente la sistematización de información en función de estos indicadores, que facilite el análisis de la tasa de cumplimiento del proyecto, los atrasos y las causas de los desfases o problemas surgidos en la ejecución.
El Estudio de Base deberá realizarse en el primer año de ejecución del proyecto, con el propósito de actualizar y llenar los vacíos del diagnóstico del proyecto y establecer la base de datos con los indicadores de efectos e impactos, que servirán para la medición en futuras evaluaciones.
La presentación tanto del Estudio de Base como de las evaluaciones posteriores deberán estar acompañadas de un resumen de los principales hallazgos, con el propósito de operativizar el análisis con los directivos y técnicos de campo. Además deberán organizarse talleres de análisis de los resultados de la evaluación, en los que participen los responsables del estudio y los técnicos y directivos de la Unidad Ejecutora, ya que sólo de esta manera se logrará que los involucrados en la ejecución reflexionen sobre los impactos sociales generados con el proyecto, evitando los resultados negativos y potenciando los resultados positivos.
Es necesario capacitar tanto a los técnicos de la Unidad Ejecutora como a los propios campesinos en los contenidos y mecanismos de la "planificación participativa". El presupuestos básico es considerar a los beneficiarios del proyecto como actores directos del mismo y no como simples receptores de propuestas diseñadas por los técnicos. Sin embargo, no siempre la población beneficiaria está en condiciones de asumir ese papel, básicamente porque desconoce el diseño y el contenido del proyecto.