Agricultural Marketing and Credit Project

Lesotho  
diciembre 1991

Lesotho, with a total area of around 30 000 Km2, is a landlocked country, surrounded by the Republic of South Africa (RSA). The average annual population growth rate is 2.63% over a population of around 1.66 million (1988), 83% of whom live in rural areas. A high proportion of male population work as migrant labour in the mines in the RSA and remittances are a high percentage of GNP. The population is concentrated mostly in lowlands which range in altitude from 1 500 to 1 800 m . Long-term average annual rainfall is about 740 mm, with a range of 550 mm in lowlands to 1 000 mm in the mountains. The most important food crops are maize, sorghum, wheat and beans. Some wheat is sold for cash and most of the beans are for export.

Project design and objectives

The Agricultural Marketing and Credit Project (AMCP) was designed as complementary to the Basic Agricultural Services Programme (BASP) which aimed to provide small farmers with farm support services and infrastructure essential to the increase of production of food. The AMCP appraisal team adopted the same BASP economic justifications in appraising the project.

Target group

The appraisal report estimated that about 13 000 families, i.e. 10% of farmers in the BASP areas would benefit directly from the AMCP through the use of farm inputs, partly on credit. These were identified as small farm operators, the majority of whom were women, cultivating an average farm of about five acres each. Average per capita income of this target group was estimated to be about USD 160, which was 60% of the national per capita income. The production inducing agricultural services provided by the project were expected to have particular importance to the relatively poorer strata of the rural population not receiving remittances and therefore totally dependent on agricultural income.

Objectives and components

Objectives. The project would contribute to the Government of Lesotho (GOL) programme to increase agricultural production. The project would particularly assist small farmers through provision of credit and improvement of marketing.

Components. The project was to provide: (a) working capital to Coop Lesotho, along with management and technical assistance; (b) a programme of seasonal, medium and long-term credit to be administered by LADB, along with management and technical assistance; (c) assistance for the monitoring and evaluation of the project; (d) studies covering the development of the cooperative sector and the feasibility of establishing a seed multiplication unit.

As the AMCP was considered a project complementary to the BASP programme which began in 1978 to provide services covering 75% of the cultivated land and some 128 000 farm families, the appraisal report attributed a portion of the benefits which would be derived from the BASP to the AMCP. Moreover, the AMCP was, in effect, a programme aimed at developing institutional capacity at national level. Therefore, its effect could not be confined solely to the IFAD target group.

Expected effects and assumptions

Expected Benefits. At the time of appraisal of BASP, the anticipated increases in production were 60 000 tonne (t) annual increase over a twenty-five year period (maize 24 000 t, wheat 13 000 t, beans 8 000 t, peas 1 000 t). However, two years after BASP commencement, slow project implementation together with a reassessment of the impact of declining soil fertility led to incremental crop production being re-estimated at half the original quantities. The AMCP appraisal team considered it premature to make a revised estimate for the project and estimated the economic rate of return at 13% .

Assumptions. The project was pegged to BASP and appraised accordingly but soon after BASP fell short of expectations. The basic assumptions relate to development organization capacity, security of land tenure systems and credit demand. The capacity to establish an operational and effective delivery institutions for credit and marketing was overestimated. The security of land tenure was lower than expected for two factors: (a) in principle, the land is owned by the King (the state) and (b) land use rights are dominated by male population even though 50% of them are migrant and 75% of farmers are women. Lastly, the project assumed that there would be effective demand for credit. In reality most customers would use LADB for depositing remittances received from abroad rather than for borrowing.

Evaluation

The evaluation mission visited the country during March/April 1990. The mission interviewed the authorities of LADB, Cooperative Lesotho as well as farmers, who benefitted from the project. The mission consulted the project completion report (CPR), about 18 supervision missions reports covering the period 1981 to 1988, quarterly progress reports; from the M&E section, survey reports and thematic studies.

Implementation context

The project components were implemented by three implementing agencies: Coop Lesotho, LADB and Planning and Evaluation Division (PED). Project coordination amongst the implementing agencies, was supposed to be undertaken by a Project Coordination Committee (PCC). The lack of a firm policy framework in which the project could operate hindered its effectiveness.

The recipient lack of compliance with the various conditions of the Financing Agreement did not help to produce an environment in which the project objectives could be readily achieved. LADB role was initially hampered by the confusion over government policy in relation to credit and the perceived duplication of effort in credit delivery under the Food Self-Sufficiency Project (FSSP). This was subsequently resolved by the government, with LADB being the agency appointed to disburse rural credit for the FSSP. In addition, LADB's impact in rural areas was weakened by its having no branches outside Maseru. This constraint was addressed by the LADB and increased ita rural branches to nineteen.

Coop Lesotho was required by government to manage more depots than the sixteen agreed upon, despite earlier assurances. These peaked at fifty-eight in 1983 and have never gone below thirty-eight. Furthermore, Coop Lesotho was required to undertake other activities which undermined its commercial viability, such as providing subsidised inputs to farmers under the FSSP.

Project achievements

Project Management. The financial and managerial performance of both LADB and Coop. Lesotho never reached the levels indicated at appraisal. Both agencies have registered significant losses. However, LADB has recovered its position at the time of evaluation, partly as a result of being authorised to accept public deposits without government restriction. Coop Lesotho handled increased volumes of inputs to farmers, particularly fertilisers, the annual quantities of which increased threefold. However, Coop Lesotho has continuously faced liquidity problems, and in 1987, IFAD financed a Capitalisation and Rationalisation Plan, thereby reprogramming AMCP funds undisbursed in the credit component. The capital injected was quickly eroded and the government eventually took a decision to privatise Coop Lesotho.

Agricultural Credit. LADB has significantly expanded its operations and has increased its lending capacity since the start of the Project. Since the beginning of the Project, in 1981, the LADB loan portfolio had increased manyfolds form M 2.3 million to M 16.7 million by 1989. Deposits also rose from M 0.63 million in 1985 to M 30.3 million in 1989, reversing the situation when loans were exceeding deposits initially. The latter is considered to have been determined by the increase in the number of LADB branches and the relatively high interest rates encouraging the deposit of remittances and savings in the bank. Loan recovery improved during the later years of the project and the LADB attributed this partly to having established branches outside Maseru.

LADB's financial losses have been significant in the recent project years. The last income and expenditure statement of LADB indicates a loss of M 1.4 million in 1989. LADB puts these losses down to a number of factors, including making provision for covering potential losses, investing in the opening and operating of new branches and agencies and being obliged to pay higher interest rates on deposits made with the bank. Moreover, LADB was not able to apply the higher interest charges to outstanding loans, but only to new loans.

The short-term loans disbursed by the LADB during the project period far exceeded in value terms the estimates made at appraisal (334%). However, the number of beneficiaries fell short by 49%. Thus more resources were made available to fewer borrowers. Drawings from the medium-term credit facilities for oxen contractors were never made and all other medium-term drawings were negligible. Long-term loans for tractor reconditioning were hardly utilised: seven loans were made throughout the project life. Reported reasons for the weak demand from oxen contractors were the growing farmer preference for power tillage and the fact that many farms are managed by women who are unable to operate ox-drawn plows, as well as for reasons of status.

Agricultural Input and Marketing. The volume of inputs marketed by Coop Lesotho increased markedly during the project. The quantity of fertilisers increased more than threefold, between 1982 and 1989. This increase occurred despite the removal of fertiliser subsidies in 1987/88. It is estimated that Coop Lesotho now supplies 70% of the country's fertiliser requirement. Sales of seeds increased in a slower but constant way. There was, however, an unjustified expansion in depots, particularly since a number of them were unviable. In contrast, crops marketed never reached appraisal estimates, even though these were modest. This was a result of a shift in the agricultural policy of the GOL, when private traders were allowed to compete in the market. In fact, the market has developed to such an extent that the Government has taken the view that a parastatal organisation is no longer necessary and embarked on a privatisation programme for Coop Lesotho.

Despite the shortfall in sales targets, Coop Lesotho's turnover increased significantly over the project period. However, the capital base did not increase in commensurate terms and the capital turnover ratio increased dramatically, causing Coop Lesotho to experience severe liquidity problems. The erosion of liquidity forced the cooperative to borrow on costly terms further exacerbating its position. This serious financial position was ultimately retrieved by an injection of funds from the GOL, as well as donors including IFAD.

Monitoring and Evaluation. The project design did not include systematic M&E framework. However M&E implementation programme was defined by IFAD consultants in the early stages of the project. The proposed activities proved too extensive following the withdrawal of funding from the BASP. In 1983 IFAD reviewed the programme and simplified the M&E reporting requirements. However, the implementation of the M&E component was hampered from the initial stages of the project due to (a) a misperception of the nature of the M&E, being considered as an eye on management instead of a tool of management, (b) the lack of precise information on the Project's target group, and (c) lack of financial and human resources.

Effects assessment and sustainability

In 1981 donors reduced their support to the BASP because of their dissatisfaction with progress made on economic restructuring. As a result AMCP was adversely affected since certain complementary activities in crop production and extension were not implemented.

Beneficiaries and theirs Incomes. The LADB estimates that by the end of 1988 loans had been made to 14 400 farmers as against the 13 000 at appraisal. However, no records were provided by the LADB to indicate beneficiary names or their location and, moreover, there is no analysis by farm size, income, or gender of borrower. There are no records at all as to beneficiary numbers from inputs sourced from Coop Lesotho. Various reports anticipated that the beneficiaries of the input supply component were most likely to be amongst the better off group of farmers.

Food self-sufficiency. Food self-sufficiency has not changed significantly during the course of the project, with the exception of wheat, where the ratio has declined from 36% in 1981 to 20% in 1988.

Specific Effects on Women. The appraisal report did not analyse the possible impact of the project on women, though it acknowledged that women were likely to be beneficiaries of the project lending programme. The legislation prevailing in Lesotho in the 1980s certainly added an institutional barrier for women to overcome, since some were not able to obtain their husband's signature for logistical or for cultural reasons. Furthermore, without a baseline survey the extent to which women were affected by this constraint or how they benefitted from the project could not be determined.

Environmental Effect. The environmental impact of the project was projected to be positive in that the adoption of fertiliser recommendations would result in improved soil fertility, increase vertical productivity and reduce the pressure for clearing more land. However, it is not possible to make any assessment as to the projects impact on the environment.

Sustainability of Institutions. LADB financial position at the time of evaluation is causing grave concern. There may also be a cause for concern as to whether it is the type of institution IFAD would have wanted to support. The weak financial position of Coop Lesotho and its privatization indicate that the institution could not be sustained in its existing form.

Participation. The target beneficiaries were never consulted during the design process, though the later credit survey during implementation involved interviewing potential credit beneficiaries.

Monitoring and Evaluation. The national staff in charge of M&E had no specific training nor experience in this field. The management of the project implementing agencies largely ignored the quarterly reports prepared by the monitoring unit. There were some attempts to improve cooperation and communication amongst the concerned parties, but with no apparent success. The M&E unit had not scored much success in the field of evaluation. An evaluation of the socio-economic situation of the beneficiaries after project completion has not proved possible, due to the absence of appropriate identification of the beneficiaries by the implementing agencies and the lack of socio-economic data on the target population. Information generated through the base-line survey conducted by the BASP M&E team was insufficient to allow detailed assessment impact.

Main issues and recommendations

Project design

a) Introduce flexibility in project design to accommodate changes in policy during project implementation and monitor policy environment very closely to suggest necessary changes timely;

b) Avoid over dependence on the implementation of activities which are not financed and not controlled by the project;

c) Conduct necessary surveys to generate data needed for proper design of targeted components;

d) Consider an implementation time-frame longer than five years, particularly for institution -building projects.

The role of supervision

a) Ensure that loan conditions which directly affect the implementation of the project are met;

b) IFAD should maintain a close involvement in supervision to ensure that its specificity criteria are met;

c) Ensure that in the supervision teams, expertise appropriate to the changing needs of the project, as they evolve, is provided.

Project management processes

a) When a number of implementing agencies are involved in a project, and it is not feasible for one agency to take the lead role, a coordinator should be appointed;

b) For effective guidance and coordination make certain that the PCC, is performing its designated functions as agreed;

c) To allow the implementers to associate the project objectives and goals with implementation process and to provide precise and realistic indicators for the assessment of project achievements, a M&E system should be designed in detail to meet these objectives.

Credit Delivery

The implementation of credit indicated that the provision of loans is not a sufficient condition for the development of agricultural production and the improvement of farm family life. Three variables deserve special attention to ensure the success of the credit programme. First, security of land tenure to ensure that users have legal rights on land. Second, extensive share-cropping arrangements would limit investments, since share croppers give up part of the incremental product to owners of land rights. Thirdly, for a woman to obtain a loan she needs the consent of the male head of household, but males are normally absent (migrant labour). The decision-making capacity is severely constrained by these factors, especially for credit with medium and long term liabilities on the households.

Lessons learned

The need to adjust project design to accommodate changing policy environment, for diligent implementation of project and realization of its benefits. The AMCP was linked to the BASP, which has been supported by donors on specific macro-economic framework. Logically, the loss of support to BASP hindered the implementation of AMCP. Moreover, during the 1980s there were serious macro-economic distortions: high rate of inflation, high price subsidies on inputs and an economy dominated by parastatals. In the course of project implementation, the GOL attempted some corrective steps, such as privatization of markets, directly affecting AMCP. It would be more appropriate to adjust the project during implementation to overcome structured difficulties caused by changing policy environment.

Credit effectiveness could be enhanced if the factors specific to the country/project area are given due attention. A common wisdom is that credit services should be demand-driven. In Lesotho, most rural households needed the LADB services to deposit remittances received from migrant labour than to obtain credit. Small-farmers and female headed households who are by their nature risk-averse shied away from borrowing and loans were left for the better off farmers. Those were not interested in animal traction (and as well because it was socially unaccepted), which the project thought to promote. But on the other hand deposit rates are kept low on the face of prevailing high inflation rates which did not encourage savers to deposit, thus endangering the viability of the credit institution. When deposit rates were increased, the lending rates on old loans could not be corrected which negatively impacted LADB.

Beneficiaries Participation should be pursued at design and implementation. There was little or no consultation with potential beneficiaries during project design. Planned medium- and long-term loans for animal traction and tractor repair were not requested by farmers. More attention to their actual needs and discussion as to how the project could service these would have altered the design and scope of AMCP. Similarly, there was little or no consultation with beneficiaries during project implementation. This would have improved coordination, focussed the project on beneficiary needs and resulted in the AMCP having a more positive impact on IFAD's potential target group.

Monitoring and Evaluation should be viewed as a management tool. The M&E system should be designed, prepared and appraised in detail as an integral part of the work programme of the project. In so doing, project designers are forced to examine the project objectives against the practicalities of achieving these objectives and to specify indicators for measuring the achievements. These indicators should be clearly defined in order to allow the identification of the target group and project beneficiaries, to monitor project implementation and to assess project impact. The inclusion of beneficiary consultation in the M&E of project activities will provide information on the impact of the project.

 

LANGUAGES: English

South Simbu Rural Development Project (1991)

  
septiembre 1991

Interim Evaluation Report

Background

The project area consists of two quite diverse districts, particularly in terms of access, population pressure and ethnic groupings. The districts lie south of the provincial capital Kundiawa to which only the Gumine District is linked by road. Gumine is characterized in some area by population pressures, increasing land degradation, a deficit (at times) in food production. Karimui is generally at a lower altitude, climatically warmer (and thereby liable to malaria), underpopulated and accessible only by air or foot. Both districts are characterized by limited income opportunities and inadequate health, agriculture and education services.

There are some 36 700 people living in Gumine District and 12 100 people in Karimui District. Most are rural villagers who are dependent on subsistence agriculture but the majority have some modest involvement in cash cropping. Sweet potato is the main staple food in both districts and is the most important crop grown by villagers, while in Karimui sago is also of importance. Land use intensity in Gumine District varies from low to high. Land use in Karimui District is much less intensive than in Gumine District and soil fertility, in the latter district, is still maintained by forest fallows of long duration (10 to 20 years). Coffee is the main cash crop in both districts with the majority of the population receiving some benefit from this crop while cardamom is an important cash crop in the Karimui District.

Project desing and objectives

Target group

According to the Staff Appraisal Report (SAR) about 5 680 households (52% of the total households) would benefit through participating in increased and better cash cropping programmes (as a result of improved extension efforts), while an estimated 2 400 households would, by adopting an improved crop rotation model, improve their nutritional status. The road upgrading programme would provide better year-round access to facilities to the 37 000 people in the Gumine district while 960 adults and pre-school children would benefit from library education in Karimui. An estimated 1 400 households would benefit through upgrading of roads to all-weather standard and through project promoted commercial vegetable production.

Institutions would benefit through an upgrading of their capacity to plan and implement development projects both at the provincial and district levels.

Objectives and components

The project objectives were to increase the incomes and employment of the population; improve their health and nutritional status; promote the role of women within society; and strengthen the institutional framework for provincial planning and execution of district-based investments in rural development. The basic assumption was that the target population will improve its living conditions and income if it has access to essential social and development services. More equal distribution of economic benefits and of government services among different areas was at the core of project justification.

The project would seek to achieve its objectives through investments in agricultural activities, health and nutrition services, education and training, rural infrastructure, management support and media information services. The project would concentrate on improvement and expansion of existing activities in recognition of the limited implementation capacity of the Government of Papua New Guinea (GOPNG) agencies and local organizations. Project activities were to be phased over a six-year period to ensure the workload was compatible with implementation capacity. The project was to include the following components:

Agricultural Development

  • Strengthening agricultural extension services
  • Commercial vegetable production and marketing

Nutrition and Health Development

  • Improvement of nutrition and health services
  • Water supply to Karimui Station

Rural Infrastructure Improvement

  • Road improvement and rehabilitation
  • Footbridge construction
  • Airstrip improvement at Karimui

Education and Training

  • Literacy programmes
  • Promotion of education for women
  • Construction of a staff development and training centre
  • Agricultural training
  • Health training

Management Support and Medical Services

  • Planning and management support
  • Medical information service unit
  • Monitoring and evaluation

Taking into account past experience with integrated Rural Development Projects in PNG, it was decided that this project will be implemented through Government structures, i.e., by the Department of Simbu using the South Simbu Management Team (SSMT). These arrangements were meant to ensure the sustainability of project achievements after its completion.

Expected Results and Assumptions

The SAR indicated that seed multiplication gardens, coffee nurseries, cardamon nurseries, pyrethrum nurseries, cardamom driers, demonstration gardens and a poultry distribution centre were to be established. In Gumine about 1 400 households were to cultivate vegetables for sale over an area of about 42 ha.

Incremental production, as a result of project interventions, was estimated as follows:

  • the total expected annual incremental production of food crops would be 600 mt by Year 5 and 1 760 mt by Year 10. Commercial vegetable production in Gumine is expected to reach 250 mt p.a. by year 5. Incremental livestock production derived from the project would amount to 55 000 chicken eggs, 3 000 duck eggs, and 1 200 kg of duck meat p.a. within five years; and
  • at full production it is expected that incremental coffee production would be about 135 mt p.a. of parchment coffee. The 90 ha of cardamom planted would produce about 32 mt p.a. of dried cardamom.

Infrastructure building, particularly through upgrading and extending the facilities of the Division of Primary Industry (DPI), was a major activity.

Evaluation

Starting from the findings of a Mid-term Review (MTR, 1989), the aim of the Interim Evaluation was to make a further assessment of the performance, efficiency and relevance of the project in the context of the objectives stated in the SAR. In so doing, the mission's intention was to draw lessons from the project's experience and make recommendations relevant to future IFAD operations in the northern districts of the Simbu Province with particular reference to the replicability of the model developed in South Simbu.

As the project has been reviewed regularly, a substantial amount of information was available particularly on the physical implementation of its infrastructural components. The mission's approach was to review this information in order to rapidly assess the overall status of the project and then to devote maximum time to field investigations and to focus on key issues. A very candid internal evaluation of the project presented to the mission on its arrival at Kundiawa was of great assistance in assessing the project's status.

While the project's activities and outputs had been monitored regularly, little information on the effects and impact of the project was available. In order to gain information of effect and impact, the mission developed interview questionnaires for both farmers and project staff. Informal group interviews were also conducted, particularly with women groups. Twenty farmers, most of whom were living relatively close to rural extension centres were interviewed. While the sample was obviously insufficient for any quantitative analysis, the interviews allowed the mission to check assumptions and statements particularly regarding the relationship between the project and its general environment.

The mission also conducted 15 formal interviews with project staff involved in field activities (these represent 53% of the total agricultural field staff). Individual staff members were generally keen to participate as they appeared to view the exercise as an opportunity to fully express their views. Extensive informal interviews were held with senior district and provincial staff as well. The mission believes that those interviews provided a fairly accurate picture of the project (and of the agricultural production component in particular).

While the mission would have liked to develop a more substantial analysis of the project's impact it has concentrated on the people's perception of the relevance of the project and the efficiency of its delivery mechanisms. The MTR (1989) recognised that the lack of reliable data on beneficiaries as well as on their productivity and incomes made it difficult to provide meaningful information in this respect. Project design and implementation methods are also emphasized as they have been seen as possible models for similar developments elsewhere.

Project implementation context

The major investment expenditures have now been completed generally within the original estimates and approximately USD 3 million (IFAD and AIDAB Funds combined) are still available for future project expenditure. This is considered sufficient to meet all future funding requirements. Expenditure has not been constrained by any lack of project funds as such but by government budget allocations. In 1991, for instance, the project's request for Kina (K) 919 000 was reduced to K 500 000 under the governments budgetary policies.

Uneven performance characterised project activities. However, the overall performance of the SSRDP must be viewed in the context of difficulties imposed by government budget cuts (as the bulk of the project's funding was incorporated in the national budgets) in 1990 and 1991 and the re-organisation of the Department of Simbu which had substantial effects on project staffing. These occurrences curtailed some project activities substantially.

Project achievements

In relation to its stated objectives the project's main measurable achievement has been the strengthening of the provincial administrative structure and an improvement in the geographical distribution of government services. For a number of reasons (the effects of the de-centralisation process on staff, the relative shortages of funds due to budget cuts, less farmer involvement with a decrease in the free supply of inputs) the project has lost some of its initial momentum. The main conclusions by component are summarised in the following:

Infrastructure. With the exception of the water supply subcomponent (not yet implemented), the project has been very successful in fulfilling the SAR's infrastructure building objectives. The 26 km of road has been upgraded, eight footbridges built and the Karimui airstrip improved. As well, in virtually all cases, facilities for agricultural extension and health staff (including the upgrading or establishment of DPI base camps, kit houses for staff, marketing centres, nurseries and seed multiplication centres) were upgraded or built in accordance with SAR specifications.

Staffing. In May 1991, only 16 of the 23 and 9 of the 16 positions proposed for agriculture and health, respectively were filled. This situation is unsatisfactory but, again, must be seen in the context of budgetary restrictions and upheavals bought about by the decentralisation process. Until the departure of the Staff Development and Training Advisor (SDTA) staff training had been carried out well, while the Wara Simbu Training Centre (WSTC) which had been upgraded by the project had stimulated staff training as a whole in the province.

Agricultural Development. Although some of the data in the various project reports must be treated with caution the SAR target (which seems quite modest) for planting and rehabilitating coffee and cardamon appear to have been achieved. While some production increases attributable to rehabilitation could have been expected by now, most of the plantings are too young, at this stage, to have substantially affected production.

Efforts to bolster food crop output and improve nutrition by promoting new crop rotations have been unsuccessful largely because both farmers and extensionists appear unconvinced both by the need for this activity and the appropriateness of the technology offered.

Advisory services provided by DPI have generally not reached a large part of the target population. Some antagonism by farmers towards DPI exists and a change in attitude by many of the staff, together with intensive training in extension methodology, is needed if extension is to function effectively.

Health and Nutrition. The delivery of health services to the target population is largely related to the timely supply of medicines to Health Centres and Aid Posts, the inaccessibility of many areas and the presence of sufficient staff. Several "key indicators" supplied to the mission failed to show an appreciable increase in services delivered presumably because one of several factors affecting delivery of services have often been lacking.

Education and Training. According to the International Evaluation Report (May 1991) prepared by the project management team, there are 40 literacy schools established in the project area (which has only 6% of the province's population) against only 14 in the other districts of the Province. Over 1 000 children and 760 adults have attended literacy schools in the Karimui district and although this activity was not prescribed for the Gumine district the SSRDP has supported five schools in that district as well. With a limited project input targets have been well exceeded basically because the population sees the need for literacy education and because management has been effective.

The provision of training infrastructure together with the appointment to a three year period of a SDTA has allowed over 60 courses in a variety of fields to be carried out. Over 1 500 people (including more than 400 women) participated. Agricultural training has lost some momentum since the departure of the SDTA and the unfortunate transfer of this understudy.

Management Support. Long-term technical assistance proved to be crucial in the successful implementation of workable framework for project programming and budgeting. The consistency of the approach from project design to implementation has been remarkable thanks to the continued involvement of a small number of national and expatriate staff who were able to establish an effective team spirit and working relationship. However, the departure of the expert programme planner and a major reshuffling of staff due to decentralisation has decreased the planning capacity of the administrative structure significantly.

Project Effects - Immediate and Lasting

Monitoring and Evaluation. The project's monitoring system was closely tied to the planning and budgeting process, at all levels. While it contributed to the establishment of improved planning and implementation review procedures, it was generally not used for decision-making. Evaluation was limited to an MTR in 1989, a nutritional survey, finalised in 1989, which allowed a comparison with a similar survey conducted in 1980 and a ‘baseline survey' which was still in the process of finalisation at the time of the mission. While the survey contains some interesting information of cropping practices and land use, it is unlikely to be of any great help in assessing project impact in the future. Partly because the SAR's working definition of evaluation activities differed substantially from evaluation as a periodic, critical assessment of project relevance, performance and impact in the context of its stated objectives, there is little objective data on performance and impact.

Effects on Target Group. The conclusion of the MTR (1989) that awareness of the project activities among men (or at least those in contact with SSRDP) is widespread is confirmed. However, women are less aware of the project's extension work and its possible benefits. The project supported health facilities are extensively used while the literacy programmes have been received with enthusiasm. However, the mission's impression was that interest and participation in cash cropping activities were waning (if not receding) due to the following main reasons.

  • The notion of the project and what can be reasonably expected from it are not yet fully understood. Therefore once free handouts are stopped, contact with extension staff and advice from project are not perceived as vital "inputs" for production. Free handouts had set a negative precedent that the project will have to try to undo.
  • A communication gap exists between some staff and population. This is due to ethnic and cultural barriers and to the relative youthfulness of the staff. This is compounded by the fact that sometimes public servants do not stay enough in one area to become familiar with the people and their customs.
  • Despite the recommendations of the MTR (1989), groups and in particular women's groups are neither encouraged nor assisted by the project. Their number is decreasing and their potential as extension foci is not being used.

Sufficient extension visits to farms are not being carried out by staff. This causes a negative perception of staff and the project by farmers and contributes to poor communication. While some extensionists state that visits to farms and houses are hampered by road conditions and unavailability of vehicles, and insufficient direction and encouragement from headquarters, there is also a psychological reluctance on the part of the staff vis-à-vis "on field extension and visits".

There is a strong indication that some of the farmers in contact with the project (vis. the procurement of free inputs) are in fact "new style big-men" who position themselves in such a way as to acquire project inputs. If this is so, it makes for difficulties in some activities of the project effectively reaching the target population under its current design and management.

Thus, in terms of achieving a widespread and mean coverage with regard to agricultural advice and providing access to inputs, the project has not achieved its objectives.

The project has improved physical access to some areas, provided a better basis for nutrition and health services to operate and assisted in improving literacy in some remote areas. While the project has provided health staff with better living conditions there is little evidence of an increased delivery of health services to the population. The effectiveness of health services is closely linked to staff numbers, availability of medicines and funding; one or several of these essential ingredients has often been lacking.

Largely because the approach to promoting the role of women was indirect and non-specific (and ignored the social context) the situation of women has generally not improved. Some specific benefits through literacy schools has occurred especially in the Karimui district.

Effect on Crop Production. By distributing coffee and cardamon planting material and promoting the rehabilitation of existing coffee stands the project has certainly had some effect on production /, however, the extent of the effect cannot be measured with some representative samplings of these plantings. The commercial vegetable production by the project is unsustainable in its present form. The envisaged increases in food production and additives to the species of crops grown were unrealistic in the context of the situation in Southern Simbu.

Effect on Institutions. Starting from a low level of institutional capacity, the project has succeeded in developing a workable framework for district-based investment programming and budgeting. While the projects' physical facilities and infrastructure were implemented, further attention (including the use of technical assistance) will be needed if this achievement is to be sustained.

The achievements of institutional strengthening have been overshadowed by weaknesses in managerial skills which resulted in better planning not being adequately reflected in better operation of facilities and delivery mechanisms.

Recommendations

Recommendations Consistent with the Present Project Structure and Rationale

Institutional Strengthening. To improve the manner in which project management is implemented and to strengthen the province's institutions, the following recommendations are made.

  • in addition to further staff training appropriate personnel management methods providing for career development plans which recognise performance and minimise both external influences and subjective considerations should be promoted;
  • revolving funds and/or accounts should be established to facilitate the marketing of cash crops, the payment of patrol allowances and funds and the provision of finance for selected non-recurrent expenditure items;
  • to overcome "decentralisation shock" and help the project regain momentum, short-term technical assistance should be used as necessary;
  • a project liaison officer should be appointed to support the District Managers and their District Management Teams; and
  • to evaluate project impact more project-specific surveys should be undertaken. Additionally, as project output data are incomplete, quarterly field reports (in particular) should be re-checked and output data revised.

Agriculture Development. Extension should undertake the following general actions now that its primary role of providing agricultural inputs is being phased out:

  • re-examine its current thrust as far as policies are concerned and define them more clearly. It is anticipated that an approach entailing more involvement by extensionists at the village level would be adopted;
  • develop and prioritise a structured training programme; and
  • rationalise the staffing situation so that frequent staff transfers are minimised.

To increase the income of farmers the project should consider the following possibilities:

  • devote more resources to rehabilitating coffee and increasing yield per unit area rather than planting new areas, particularly in the Gumine district;
  • seek private operators involvement in agricultural inputs supply; and
  • examine the feasibility of setting up a revolving fund, initially financed by IFAD, by which DPI or its agents can market cash crops in remote areas.

The proposed feasibility study on commercial vegetable production should be carried out as a priority. If it becomes apparent that the venture cannot be made commercially viable, the project should withdraw support immediately rather than further raise false expectations.

Health and Nutrition. The project should urge provincial authorities to recruit medical staff (including a volunteer nutrition worker for Karimui), provide better transport for health workers and address the issues of both shortages of vaccines and funds for Maternal and Child Health (MCH) clinics.

Training and Education. The following measures should be considered under the training and education component:

  • more consideration should be given to self-funding for literacy programmes, including the possibility of the project establishing a crop marketing service to be run by the organisers of the Karimui programme;
  • actual staff training needs should be developed in detail (in the case of DPI after a re-examination of its priorities) through technical assistance. Special assistance should be given to the training needs of women; and
  • in order for the Media Unit to become more effective in serving community needs, it should be closely integrated with the Simbu Extension Support Programme (SESP).

Recommendations for Consideration in the Future

The assumption should not systematically be made that project implementation is to be carried out through government agencies (as was the case with SSRDP). The selection of implementation channels or delivery mechanisms should be based on an assessment of the comparative strengths and weaknesses of the various possible implementors with respect to each major action considered by the project. The end result of such an approach would most likely be an adjustment of project objectives to existing capabilities and the involvement of a larger number of operators. Consequently, institution capacity building should be proportionate to the contribution that public services can realistically be expected to make to the project objectives.

Because churches and some non-government organisations (NGOs) are will entrenched in many PNG communities they should, where feasible, be used as a link between the project and the population. This should lead to more involvement by the target groups as most non-government agencies have a better awareness of the population's specific needs and capabilities than public servants do.

Technical assistance should be used as necessary and it should not be terminated abruptly as was the case with SSRDP.

Extreme care should be taken before new technologies are included in projects. Even if this is the case, they should first be demonstrated then phased in.

In the PNG context, renewed attention should be given to the involvement of women and women's groups in project planning. The mission believes that women's groups and the issue of women's involvement was not considered seriously enough by the project implementors.

Lessons learned

The assumption that the public service, if given sufficient support through project instigated institutional building, would be able to deliver a wide range of services should not be made. For services which involve complicated interactions between the project and the target group, NGOs which are more intimately involved with the communities, should be used as one channel for project implementation. This approach should be given sufficient weight in project design particularly in situations (such as PNG) where churches and NGOs are well entrenched.

The introduction of new technologies without proper testing and without a thorough understanding of the target groups social and economic needs should never be contemplated. A realistic need assessment should be mandatory in project design and new technologies should be carefully tested and slowly introduced.

Project designers should not be reluctant to use and persevere with TA where a need is identified. TA should not be abruptly terminated particularly if adequate local expertise has not been developed. Project design should have sufficient flexibility to increase (or decrease) the amount of TA provided according to implementation experience.

Institution strengthening, particularly training, should not be treated as a one-off activity, but rather as a continuous intervention which is capable of responding to the project's changing needs. For training to be effective, be it at senior, field or farmer levels, training needs should be developed in detail and prioritised. TA should be used as necessary for training.

Project design and implementation should give sufficient weight to the issue of women's involvement both as beneficiaries and implementers of activities. In situations were women are, effectively, the most disadvantaged in both material and social senses (such as PNG) adequate attention to women's involvement in project design and implementation should be a condition for loan effectiveness and continued disbursement of project funds. Without such a proviso it is probable that the issue of women's involvement will not be adequately considered by project implementors.

 

 

LANGUAGES: English

Small Farmers Credit Project (1991)

  
septiembre 1991

Completion Evaluation

Given that a second phase of the Small Farmers Credit Project (SFCP) for Jamaica (Loan No. 100-JA) was under consideration, IFAD's Monitoring and Evaluation Division carried out a completion evaluation of that project. The field work was combined with an Identification Mission organized by the Fund's Latin America and the Caribbean Division, in order to ensure that the results of the Evaluation Mission would be effectively incorporated into the design of a new project. In fact, a main recommendation of the Evaluation Mission was that there should not be a second phase of the SFCP. What is recommended, instead, is a project in which the emphasis should be on the diversification of financial services for the rural poor.

Background

In the early 1980's, Jamaica's economy was in a critical situation due to the long-term decline in export prices for its bauxite-aluminia mining and processing industries. The need to reactivate traditional agricultural production to boost exports and reduce imports, especially of food products, motivated the Government of Jamaica (GOJ), to assign a more important role to agriculture in its policy decisions. It was assumed that if sufficient credit and technical assistance was provided to the country's small farmers (those with farms under 25 acres), they would then be in a position to apply improved production techniques, thereby increasing yields and production, and achieving the stated policy goals.

The situation of the agricultural credit institutions at the time, however, was very precarious due to a longstanding policy of providing funds to farmers at subsidized interest rates and accepting low loan recovery rates. The institutional organization consisted of a national level agricultural bank (the Jamaica Development Bank (JDB) up to 1982, and the Agricultural Credit Bank (ACB) thereafter), and over one hundred Peoples Cooperative Banks (PCBs) at the local level.

The GOJ invited IFAD to assist in developing a rural development project for the country focusing on agricultural credit. The Fund requested the Inter-american Development Bank (IDB) to carry out the appraisal and to cofinance the project. The final design followed previous IDB experience with credit in Jamaica. During appraisal, the need to change the existing institutional structure led to some delay in completing this phase. IFAD's Executive Board approved the project in late 1982 and IDB's Board did likewise early in 1983. Project start-up took place in mid-1983, and the final closing date was December 1989.

Project design characteristics

The project had dual objectives. First, to strengthen the agricultural credit delivery system, by providing the first important support to the new ACB. This was done by supplying loanable funds with an interest spread which was assumed would be sufficient to cover the costs to ACB of administering the sub-loans. This spread was deemed also sufficient to cover the costs of the PCB's in their role as financial intermediaries. Secondly, the project strategy proposed, through supervised credit and the introduction of improved farming techniques, a substantial increase in crop yields of small farmers, thus generating higher incomes from on-farm activities.

The project design proposed a supervised credit system, with ACB-supported farmers receiving technical assistance from the Ministry of Agriculture (MINAG), both in the introduction of improved farming techniques and in soil conservation works, to allow for an increase in short- and long-term yields. Project beneficiaries would consist both of institutions (ACB, PCBs and MINAG), as well as small farmers cultivating between 2 and 10 acres of land. Institutional coordination was a responsibility of ACB as executing institution, and resources were assigned for project monitoring and evaluation (M&E) activities, to be carried out by MINAG.

The total cost was estimated at USD 25 million, with GOJ providing 20% and IDB and IFAD each 40%. The project would be implemented over a four year period, concentrating activities in four distinct geographic areas corresponding to four watersheds.

Once under implementation, the project underwent considerable modifications from its original design. In particular, two major changes were introduced. During the first year, GOJ requested a change in project focus, from the limited pilot-project area originally designed, to a nationwide, all-island encompassing project. A further change, introduced also at GOJ's request in the second year, was essentially aimed at widening the target group, by increasing the upper size limit of eligible farmers from 10 acres to 25 acres. GOJ's motivation in asking for these changes, reflected the new policies of promoting export and import substituting crops. It was also justified as necessary given the low level of project disbursements in the early years and furthermore, the large devaluation of the Jamaican Dollar (JMD) that took place in November 1983, had increased the amount of loanable funds threefold in the short run. These changes to the project's internal design logic were very important, and consequently also complicated the evaluation of project results.

Main project results

The project was actually implemented over a six year period, 50% longer than originally planned. IFAD's loan was 87% disbursed when the project closed in December 1989. The main results will be presented below, both in terms of effects on institutions as well as on the small farmer beneficiaries. The role of loan supervision on project implementation will also be discussed.

Effects on ACB. With the project, ACB has been developed and strengthened as a viable and profitable credit institution. However, it must be pointed out that ACB's main source of income has increasingly been investments in government securities and fixed deposit accounts, rather than income from its agricultural credit operations. Without the income from these non-agricultural credit activities, the ACB would not be the financially successful institution it is today. In addition, ACB has benefitted from not having to absorb the foreign exchange risk. Secondly, the ACB has transferred the risk of sub-loan default mainly to the PCBs.

Effects on the PCBs. Under the project the loan portfolio of all 42 participating PCBs expanded very substantially, but these banks on the whole did not benefit. A limited number of PCBs (about 10 out of 42) did improve their financial situation in relation to what it had been previous to the project, but in 75% of the cases their losses increased. The PCBs in the aggregate remain weak financial intermediaries, many now facing high arrears rates.

Effects on MINAG. During some years, especially when its field staff was being reduced due to cuts in its budget, the MINAG benefitted from the project, as it received funds for staff, operational expenses and for the purchase of vehicles. MINAG was thus able to maintain its services to farmers, although these drastically fell off once project funds were exhausted. In terms of improving MINAG's capability to introduce changes in farm technology, the project did not have much success. Yield increases were meager and on-farm soil conservation adoption was disappointing. Community soil conservation works carried out did exceed the original project goals, but unfortunately these were not integrated into other project activities, so their overall contribution to attaining objectives was of little relevance.

Effects on Project Management, Monitoring and Evaluation. While the managing of the individual components was in general adequate, overall project management and coordination was weak. The monitoring and evaluation activities carried out served mainly to record events that took place but were of little use in assisting management.

Effects on Credit to Small Farmers. The project contributed very substantial funds for small farmer credit, supplying about 30% of all ACB funds in the years 1984 to 1987. Thereafter, project funds constituted a small portion of the total as other external sources of funds were supplied to ACB.

In terms of the number of sub-loans, some 14 150 of these were granted to small producers. However, since ACB was not able to provide the number of actual beneficiaries (many repeat borrowers occurred), the Evaluation Mission arrived at an estimate that between a minimum of 8 500 to a maximum of 9 800 farmers were effectively reached. This compares favourably with the 4[500 that were targeted at appraisal.

In 92% of cases the sub-loans went to farmers that possessed a total area of under 25 acres (the definition of small farmer used by ACB), and all sub-loans complied with the Credit Regulation which indicated that the area cropped be under 25 acres. With regard to the original target group (those farmers having under 10 acres), 77% of all sub-loans went to this group. Available data suggests that 51% of sub-loan recipients increased their incomes and 64% increased their demand for labour. The Evaluation Mission's findings tend to indicate that sub-loan beneficiaries were farmers who, while poor, had better access to land and other resources.

Project credit funds went primarily to the financing of export crops (50%), to the purchase of livestock (30%), to food crops (16%), and for farm infrastructure. This distribution corresponds to GOJ's stated priorities. There is no evidence, however, that the project contributed to increasing crop yields as originally planned at appraisal. While production was increased through the use of credit, this was achieved by increasing the area cropped.

Project Supervision. In general, while field supervision by IDB was adequate, with multiple visits being made to PCBs to ascertain that project activities conformed to those included in the loan agreements, there was insufficient supervision of other loan related matters, such as the use of loan recoveries for providing further credit to farmers. The major implications of the changes suggested by GOJ and approved by IDB were not adequately anticipated. The extent to which those modifications could alter the project's original focus was not anticipated.

Conclusions and lessons learnt

The overall assessment of the project was complicated because of the important changes introduced during implementation. These changes can be seen as an adaptation of the project to the GOJ evolving priorities. But, at the same time, because of these changes, the project as implemented did not reach its initial objectives. Nevertheless, given the achievements described in the report, both the GOJ and the IDB have considered the project successful. In addition, the project has yielded a number of important lessons for future projects, the most important of which are presented in the following paragraphs.

Lessons Concerning the Macro-economic Policy Environment. In the case of Loan No. 100-JA, there is a clear lesson for IFAD on the need to monitor more closely the evolving economic situation in the countries, in order to adapt its projects when important policy changes take place. When this type of situation occurs, the Fund should be flexible enough to redefine projects when the original design has become obsolete, but taking care that the needs of its target group are not adversely affected.

Lessons Concerning Definition of Beneficiaries. IFAD should have a clear understanding of country priorities with regard to the target group before carrying out the preparation and appraisal of a project. This requires that at identification, the definition of which groups will be the beneficiaries, should be worked out in detail with the staff of national institutions that will later implement the project. Eligibility criteria to be applied to project beneficiaries should be operationally applicable and as precise as possible.

Lessons on Project-proposed Technical Solutions. The credit needs and production possibilities of the target group have to be analyzed critically in greater depth, to ascertain if the project's proposals correspond to the beneficiaries' actual needs. The increased production capacity of poor small farmers should be based on a realistic assessment of available improved technology for their type of land, their crops and their resources. The project results indicate that a mistake was made in proposing exaggerated increases in production and yields, when the technology available was only adequate for producing modest increases. The capacity of the extension system to disseminate new technology, should also be carefully assessed. Provision should be included in future projects to periodically review the proposed project's crop and technical packages, to ensure that agronomic recommendations remain in harmony with changes in input and output prices.

Lessons on the Need for Diversified Financial Services. The project's focus on credit delivery mechanisms alone should not be repeated, as no attention was paid by ACB towards generating savings. A balanced approach is required to promote savings in rural areas, thus reducing the need for additional external funding, while providing new loans in a manner such that higher loan recovery is achieved.

Lessons on Building up Institutional Capabilities. The capacity of institutions to adapt to new project demands can easily be overestimated. The development of institutional capacity requires time and resources which the project should provide for. Institutional support services to the project, from agencies not used to providing these to development projects oriented to rural poor populations, should not be left as the undetermined responsibility of the government, as it is easy for the latter not to take the actions required. The insufficient support to the PCBs is a case in point, as there was no explicit provision in the project concerning how these were to be strengthened and who was responsible for this.

Lessons on Project Monitoring. Project monitoring should be explicitly integrated with project management. Otherwise the result is a divorce between the monitoring staff and the project manager who is the direct user of monitoring information, and no positive benefits are obtained.

Lessons on Project Evaluation. The limited usefulness of the evaluation studies based on farmer surveys, highlights the need to make greater use of loan application forms and other project records, in carrying out evaluation activities. Surveys should be used to complement these other sources of data, and care should be taken to ensure the use of short questionnaires that refer only to that data not available from other sources. The length of time required to process survey data would be reduced and non-sample errors would be minimized. Case studies should also be used.

Lessons on Project Sustainability. From the previous lessons, it is clear that the project has a reduced long-term capacity to continue making loans to small farmers. Given the high rate of arrears, which evolved from an average 62% in the first two years of the project's implementation to an average of 28% in the project's last two years, the loan funds will continue to diminish.

Nevertheless, the project did allow ACB to strengthen its financial situation, by using sub-loan recovery to purchase government securities and invest in fixed term deposits. This use of the funds, while unorthodox, did permit ACB to generate income to continue to function, and thus would allow the further recycling of loan funds in the future.

Lessons on Supervision. IFAD requires substantially more involvement in project supervision, if it is to avoid the kind of problems which the project faced when the policy environment underwent substantial changes. The long-distance supervision through a cooperating institution, while useful for handling regular project implementation matters such as loan requests and disbursements, did not function adequately when dealing with more crucial project issues. In addition, there was an insufficient flow of project-related information and reports from IDB to IFAD. As experience with the project demonstrates, certain supervision aspects should not be delegated completely to the cooperating institution, whose orientation may not be the same as the Fund's. In addition, in credit projects, IFAD should ensure that agricultural credit experts participate in supervision missions. Finally, close attention should be paid during project supervision to the further use of credit funds recovered.

Incorporation of lessons learnt in the New Jamaica project

After the completion evaluation of the Small Farmers Credit Project a new project for Jamaica is being designed. The new project is formulated within the framework of an overall structural adjustment programme which emphasizes trade liberalization and an increase in lending rates to the small farm sector. The project design follows the general policy of privatization. Thus, agricultural extension would be subcontracted by the ACB to assist its clients, according to their demands, instead of the public sector supply led approach followed in the SFCP.

The analysis of the target group has been given much more importance in the preparation of the new project than in the SFCP. The target group would include the rural poor (not only the farmers). In addition, the eligibility criteria would include household income instead of being restricted to acreage, and credit ceilings will be established.

Beneficiary participation is intended to be of essential importance in the new project. The ACB/PCB network would become a cooperative banking network. More and more decisions will be transferred from the ACB to the PCBs, which played too modest a role in the SFCP. Moreover, the role of the management committees within the PCBs would be strengthened, therefore allowing for a direct involvement of the rural poor at the decision making level.

The project will not include a specific community soil conservation works component. These issues will be promoted as part of the extension messages. In this way those activities will be integrated with the rest of the project and project coordination will be simplified, allowing thus for greater efficacy and efficiency than in the SFCP.

The new project is based on the development of a sustainable cooperative banking system, introducing savings as a new element to the ACB/PCB system and strengthening the PCBs through appropriate technical assistance and training.

As has been done in the Hillside Farmers Support Project (Loan[No.[217-JA), the monitoring and evaluation functions will be separated. Monitoring will be undertaken by the ACB/PCB system. Most of the indicators would be based on data available within the ACB/PCB information system. On the other hand, evaluation would be the responsibility of the Project Analysis and Monitoring Company. The lack of separation of the monitoring and the evaluation function was a key reason for their lack of appropriate functioning in the SFCP.

As project coordination was one of the major problems in the past, the project would have only one executing agency, the ACB. All other services would be subcontracted via the Project Management Unit.

 

 

LANGUAGES: English

The Northern Region Agricultural Rehabilitation Project (1991)

Sudan  
septiembre 1991

Interim Evaluation

Background

The project area consists of a narrow fringe of land along the Nile in northern Sudan and covers about 120 000 feddans (fd) or 50 000 hectares with about 100 villages. The climate is extremely dry with very hot temperatures from April to September - irrigation is essential for cropping. Wheat, legumes (faba beans, chick peas, field beans, lentils), vegetables, spices, sorghum and maize are the main annual crops while dates (by far the most important crop), citrus and lucerne (alfalfa) are the important perennial crops.

Project design and objectives

Target group

Staff Appraisal Report (SAR) estimated the project beneficiaries to be 40,000 low income farm families, with an average family size of six persons. The average family holding was estimated as 2.8 fd with 2.0 fd cultivated and 0.8 fd fallow. The annual income was estimated in 1983 at Sudanese Pound (LS) 665 per family or USD 85 per capita. In addition to the farmers, the following institutions were expected to benefit through institutional strengthening:

  • Agricultural Bank of Sudan (ABS)
  • Regional Ministry of Agriculture (RMOA)
  • Agricultural Research Corporation (ARC)
  • Northern Agricultural Production Corporation (NAPC)

Objectives and components

The project was designed specifically to raise the productivity and income of small farmers and cooperatives, increase food production and thereby substitute for imports. These objectives were to be achieved through intervention in three areas; investing in irrigation rehabilitation, funding incremental annual inputs in the irrigated schemes through credit and by strengthening the service institutions in the project area.

Credit for investments and incremental annual farm inputs were to be provided through the ABS following the procedures already established under the on-going World Bank-supported Agricultural Services Project (ASP). NAPC's pumping stations in the Northern Province were to be repaired and kept operational until the implementation of a full rehabilitation scheme to be funded by IFAD and ODA under separate arrangements. The main project components were:

  • Agricultural Credit and ABS Institutional Support (USD 2.3M)
  • Agricultural Services, Extension and Training (USD 4.5M)
  • Adaptive Agricultural Research (USD 2.2M)
  • NAPC Pumping Station Repairs (USD 2.5M)

Expected results and assumptions

The total area cultivated was expected to rise from 90 000 to 11 600 fd as a result of improved water supply reducing fallow from 32% to 25% of the area. New land would be brought under cultivation through the establishment of project-financed wells for irrigation. Production of broadbeans, wheat, sorghum, berseem, citrus and dates was expected to increase by 79, 147, 58, 152, 24 and 33%, respectively, by project year 6.

Evaluation

An intention of this report is to provide an evaluation of the NRARP for the appraisal mission to the Northern Province Irrigation Rehabilitation Project (NPIRP - Phase II). The report also focuses on any directional changes or corrective measures that could still be taken before the implementation of the NRARP is completed. Although the mission would have liked to develop a more substantial analysis on project impact on farmers it chose to focus on project performance and its impact on the institutions, these being a significant beneficiary. This approach is partly a result of the mission's view that as institutions would be critical in the follow-up project they warrant a substantial amount of attention and partly because the mission found it difficult to quantitatively isolate the project's impact on farmers since:

  • other programmes were involved;
  • independent private investments and favourable producer prices have had a significant influence; and
  • there is a shortage of consistent time series data on prices, production and consumption.

In order to assess the overall status of the project, the mission reviewed the supervision reports as well as a Mid-term Review (February, 1988), a Mid-term Evaluation (Feb/March 1990) as well as several other reports pertaining to the project area. The mission visited Sudan from the 17 May 1991 to 7 June 1991 during which time it spent ten days in the project area.

Implementation context

Agriculture which is the predominant sector in the Sudanese economy grew by only 0.5% per annum from 1975 to 1980 and has subsequently declined further. The main reasons for the decline were low producer prices for export crops, a shortage of foreign exchange for agricultural inputs and a deteriorating infrastructure. In the context of the Northern Region, difficulties in obtaining agricultural inputs and ageing irrigation equipment were the major causes of a deterioration in productivity. The Government of Sudan (GOS) attached priority to rehabilitating the irrigation sector of the Northern Region and requested IFAD assistance.

Four project implementing agencies (PIA's) have been involved in project execution: NAPC, ABS, RMOA and ARC. Each agency was given the responsibility of implementing its respective component. This arrangement of using existing GOS departments was the only practical way of implementing the project.

Coordination problems arose between the agencies and it became apparent that the Regional Coordinating Committee (RCC) was unable to perform its coordinating and directive functions properly. It became obvious also that the PIA's found it very difficult to deal separately with the funding agencies, (GOS, IFAD) in matters of procurement, disbursement and training. A Project Coordination Unit (PCU) was created in July 1987 (i.e. three years after IFAD Loan became effective). It proved to be an adequate response to shortcomings on project coordination and liaison.

In order to ensure that the annual work programmes and periodic reports are submitted regularly, and in the proper format, PCU was given some executive powers and control over the implementing agencies particularly with respect to the preparation of work programmes and budget and the release of funds.

The IFAD loan became effective in July 1984 while the OPEC Fund loan became effective in May 1985. However, because of previous GOS arrears on OPEC Fund loans, a suspension of disbursement of the OPEC Fund loan was imposed simultaneously with loan effectiveness. Due to the joint financing arrangements stipulated in the Loan Agreement, IFAD was also forced to curtail foreign exchange disbursements. Because of the suspension the project was able to undertake important start-up activities with the limited funds available, including the appointment/re-deployment of required field staff, finalization of the main procurement arrangements and the establishment of credit and extension programmes. IFAD resumed its disbursements in October 1986, and vital farm inputs and machinery was finally procured for the project. Effectively, therefore, project implementation commenced in the 1986/87 financial year. Disbursement of the OPEC loan caused problems throughout the implementation phase.

Project achievements

The overall performance of the project must be viewed in the context of the difficulties imposed by problems with OPEC funding, which effectively delayed implementation until 1986/87, as well as by the country's economic situation. For this reason some important sub-components including construction of training and research facilities, have not been started. The 1988 flood also affected project implementation and caused some temporary change in its direction.

Largely because of unforeseen changes in funding arrangements, disbursements are well below SAR allocations. However, some 80% of a revised IFAD contribution agreed to between the donors and GOS and has been disbursed. About SDR 1.88 million remain to be disbursed.

Production. While the appraisal projected a total cultivated1 land of about 100 000 fd and a total annual irrigable area of 135 000 fd by project completion an estimated 210 000 fd were cropped in 1990. The project contributed an estimated 26 000 fd of cultivated area either by maintaining cultivated area (replacement of pumps both in NAPC and private schemes) or extending irrigation to previously uncropped land. An estimated 210 000 t of incremental crop production was expected to result through the project's contributions to irrigation capacity from 1986/87 to 1990/91. Incremental production was projected to peak at about 77 000 t in 1990/91 when the full effects of the pumps supplied in 1989 and 1990 were felt. This is similar to the 70 000 t of extra production projected for year 6 by the SAR. An estimated 10 000 t of incremental production can be attributed to project-provided fertilizer.

Institutional Strengthening. While the project undoubtedly helped strengthen some implementing agencies, the sustainability of some of these improvements remains in doubt.

  1. NAPC. The use of external loans from ODA and IFAD to finance a crash irrigation grants rehabilitation programme was instrumental in improving water delivery and, consequently, in raising funds by being able to increase (and improve collection of) water charges. While increased charges may be viewed as a first step towards sustainability, the corporation's structural problems which relate to sustainability were, by definition, not addressed (the structural problems include overstaffing, low efficiency of the irrigation network, inefficient water management practices, etc.).
  2. ABS. The bank is a centralised organisation which integrates trade and banking activities. It provides strategic goods and services at subsidised prices through the mechanism of overvalued official exchange rate and negative real interest rates. ABS's services are, not surprisingly, in high demand. Any external loan, such as IFAD's present one, is primarily viewed as a contribution to the overall organisation's objective and consequently pooled with other available resources. IFAD has basically contributed directly to the ABS operating funds and by doing so has helped the bank to expand its operations. ABS performance in the project area has been significantly improved both through the funding of its operations and the provision of office buildings and storage facilities.
  3. RMOA. The IFAD project brought two major changes. First, it provided a substantial amount of resources in the form of transport, equipment, capital goods and incremental operational costs. Secondly, it introduced the T&V system within the extension service and allocated the major share of the additional resources made available to the RMOA for this purpose.
  4. ARC. Provision of transport to the Hudeiba Research Station (HRS) has allowed it to supervise off-station trials related directly to the project more effectively.

Monitoring. Project monitoring failed because the various implementing agencies have narrow and divergent perceptions of the project in line with their own policies and constraints. The inadequacy of project coordination and monitoring arrangements at the regional level as well as the marked weakness of the RMOA in charge of those tasks also contributed significantly to the problem. The project, as a result, relied heavily on substitutes for effective monitoring. This is illustrated by the increasingly intensive involvement of PCU and to a lesser extent of consultants reporting on project achievements in addition to the significant involvement of supervision missions.

Project effects

Effects on production. An estimated 26 000 fd of cultivated area was either maintained or added to previously uncropped land. Incremental production, as a direct result of IFAD's interventions was projected to peak in 1990/91 when the full effects of the pumps supplied in 1989 and 1990 were expected to be felt. This increase will only be sustainable if allowances are made for adequate maintenance and periodical renewal of irrigation equipment. Project-provided fertilizer represented a one-off injection which resulted in an estimated 10 000 t of incremental crop production.

Effect on target group. A socio-economic report in 1991 estimated a net income of about LS 36 000 for a farmer with a gross income of LS 55 000. This compares to an estimated net income of LS 665 per family of USD 85 per capita in the SAR. While it is difficult to compare the estimates because of inflation, the figures strongly suggest that the farmer today is much better off. This content is supported by socio-economic report (1991) which states "... it could be safely concluded that the quality of life of the farming population in the project is highly satisfactory. People have access to the basic needs of life in terms of housing, utilities and food. They also have access to the basic community services ..." The extent to which the project contributed to this favourable situation is unclear, but its assistance with inputs (through the provision of credit to ABS), support to NAPC's pumping operations and emergence contributions through pumps, jute bags and drainage after the 1988, was significant. It is believed that at least 28 000 farmers out of an estimated total of 110 000 farmers have benefited directly from project interventions. An estimated 50 to 60% of the beneficiaries in the private schemes belong to the target group while most of the NAPC schemes farmers are small farmers.

Effects on institutions. While the project has undoubtedly helped strength some aspects of the implementing agencies, the sustainability of some of these improvements remains in doubt.

(i) NAPC. Basically, the project contributed to the corporation's survival strategy by financing a bridging operation. This, in fact, was the project's intention. The organisation's structured problems which relate to sustainability were not addressed by definition.

(ii) ABS. Its performance in the project area has been improved significantly as a result of the financing of office buildings, housing and storage facilities. However, despite the effectiveness of ABS as an agency for disbursing inputs and credit, unless adjustments in price and exchange rate policies are made so that agricultural inputs are sold at market prices and on-lending rates are made positive, the ABS's current operations are not sustainable.

(iii) RMOA. The RMOA is responsible for providing a wide set of agricultural services to the Northern Region. Its administrative structure follows the Regional Government structure with Headquarters at Ed Damer, and representation at the provincial, district and rural council levels. The Ministry's culture is typically that of a public bureaucracy experiencing budget austerity, staff frustration and a lack of sense of direction. Decision-making is quite a laborious process in this context as the problem is compounded by difficult communications between offices (no telephone, distances and rough roads, etc.) and generally poor working conditions.

IFAD project brought two major changes to this situation. First, it provided a substantial amount of resources in the form of transport, equipment, capital-goods and incremental operational costs. Secondly, it introduced the T&V system within the extension service and allocated the major share of the additional resources made available to the RMOA for this purpose. It is estimated that the IFAD project provides up to 70% of RMOA resources (not taking the salaries into account). This dependency upon external resources which remain, however, below the needs, clearly indicates the limits of this pattern of development.

(iv) ARC. Provision of transport to HRS has allowed it to better supervise off station trials related directly to the project. However, until a complement of research staff is based at the soon to be built Dongola research station the impact on ARC's ability to effectively carry out project-oriented work will remain limited.

Environmental Impact Effects. The project has contributed to the proliferation of irrigation wells (mataras) both in the Nile flood-plain areas and the slightly elevated land (upper terrace) adjoining the flood-plains by providing pumpsets. While it is unlikely that mataras near the Nile will, as such, harm the agricultural land in their vicinity, the sustainability of mataras in some high terrace areas is questionable.

Recommendations

The project has been successful in its main aim of helping increase agricultural production and raising the incomes of small farmers in private and cooperative irrigation schemes. Some import substitution through increased production of food, particularly wheat, has been achieved. The ability of the PIAs to operate, has been enhanced mainly through a generous provision of transport and funds to operate the vehicles. However, it is unlikely that this increased productivity is sustainable for the following reasons:

  1. the combination of an overvalued official exchange rate (five to six times lower than the black market rate) and of negative real interest rates for credit, has heavily subsidised the imported agricultural inputs, equipment and machinery. These arrangements are not sustainable under Sudan's conditions of ever-decreasing foreign exchange earnings and acute budget deficit;
  2. because of the shortage of foreign exchange, the physical availability of fuel, spare parts, fertiliser and pump sets, most of them imported, is dependent to a significant extent, on the project resources; and
  3. implementing agencies face a number of structural problems which reflect on their managerial performance and their capacity to use equipment and vehicles provided by the project capacity to use equipment and vehicles provided by the project efficiently. Unless new resources are injected into the system, the operational capacity of the implementing agency to follow-up after the project will be unavoidably reduced.

Main recommendations

In defining a rationale on which to base recommendations for improving project performance and impact, it should be first recognised that the structural nature and the magnitude of the constraints identified are to a large extent beyond project control2.

The obvious recommendation is that the macro-economy be adjusted so that agricultural inputs are sold at market prices, leading to the disappearance of parallel markets and that lending rates are made positive. Such a recommendation seems far-reaching for a project at micro-level, yet this issue is critical to sustainability.

As far as the on-going project is concerned, it is recommended that the following corrective measures which are likely to minimise the effects of the above-mentioned constraints and increase the commitment of various implementing agencies to the achievement of project objective be taken:

  • hold annual programming workshops at district and provincial levels and establish, in close cooperation with RMOA, ABS and NAPC, set performance targets and make the release of funds linked to minimal achievements in this field; and
  • adopt a substantial staff incentive framework based on staff's effective contribution to the project.

A basic recommendation is that the agricultural component concentrates its efforts on implementing an effective T&V system as its priority during the remaining period of the project. The effectiveness and impact of the T&V system should be assessed in the second half of 1992 (at which stage the system will have been implemented for two years in the Central District).

With regard to future IFAD projects, decentralisation of implementing agencies should be encouraged as part of the project's objective. To achieve this, project resources should be allocated to task managers at the provincial, district and scheme levels.

Component recommendations

NAPC/Irrigation. The survival strategy applied through necessity to date, by NAPC management is not sustainable. Structural adjustments in addition to rehabilitation are needed. The fact that GOS has decided to privatise NAPC but has not clearly defined its modalities has created a wait-and-see situation. It is the mission's opinion that the follow-up project's aim should be to help GOS devise a functional way of privatising NAPC.

In view of the proliferation of mataras and the significant lowering of watertables in some locations within the project area, a hydro-geological study which could develop a groundwater utilisation plan is recommended.

Credit. ABS should make every effort to improve recovery rates and rates and replenish the resolving fund as a pre-requisite to the expansion of its operation. ABS should improve its record keeping to firstly separate disbursements from various credit sources; secondly to distinguish between the demand for credit and for inputs which farmers could buy with their own cash resources; thirdly ensure that the revolving fund is credited with loan repayments properly; and fourthly collect data and analyse credit impact on beneficiaries.

Agricultural Services. To effectively install the T&V system, the following measures are considered essential:

  • a motivated and experienced Team Leader (Extension) must be appointed to work with the T&V system. Sufficient incentives3 must be provided to attract such a person;
  • an Extension Consultant to work in total cooperation with the Team Leader must be employed as a priority; and
  • a system of developing annual work programmes and budgets from the field level upwards must be installed so that consolidated Annual Work Programmes (AWPs) and budgets can be delivered

Agricultural Research. When the proposed Dongola research facility is established, agricultural socio-economic work on small farm management should receive priority together with the issue of salinity/sodicity in matara situations.

Forestry. Prior to a commitment of further support to the Northern Province Community Forestry Project (NPCFP), a consultant specialising in desert control should assess the long-term effectiveness of control measures taken by NPCFP to date.

As noted in para 17, project monitoring was not effective. The following recommendations aim at creating a situation which will increase the awareness of line managers and critical tasks operators of the need for an effective monitoring mechanism as a support to decision-making. More delegation of authority (and of the corresponding resources) to the lower levels of the hierarchy within all implementing agencies, and particularly within RMOA and NAPC, is a prerequisite in this regard. It is further essential that line managers and critical tasks operators be responsible for defining their information needs in accordance with performance targets set at their level of responsibility. Monitoring indicators should be primarily based on these performance targets. The latter should be agreed on annually in the framework of an enhanced programming process starting from the rural council/scheme level. In-service training and technical assistance are extensively needed to implement the above recommendations. However, it should be ensured that assistance does not lead to substitution: concerned managers should be the one to take the decisions regarding their information needs.

Lessons learned

Although the project has increased productivity this increase is not sustainable as it is dependent largely on heavily subsidised imported agricultural inputs, equipment and machinery. The subsidies are untenable under the country's acute budget shortfalls and lessening foreign exchange earnings. IFAD should, along with other aid agencies, urge GOS to make macro-economic adjustments including market prices for inputs, which would lead to the disappearance of parallel markets, and the imposition of positive bank lending rates.

Without structural adjustments large-scale irrigation schemes controlled by parastatals are not sustainable. Before further aid funds are invested in such schemes, given the GOS's intention of privatising parastatals involved in irrigation, the economics of sustaining such schemes under a realistically prices user-pays system should be assessed.

The lack of decentralisation, particularly in the matters of financial delegation, and the ineffectiveness of linkages between the task manager at the field level, the region and the central authorities have been major impediments to project implementation. The decentralisation of implementing agencies, in future IFAD projects, should be encouraged with project resources allocated to managers at the provincial, district and scheme level.

The development of annual work annual work programmes (AWPC) through workshops at the district and provincial level, involved project implementation agencies (in the case of NRARP the line agencies RMOA, ABS and NAPC) are necessary to ensure better coordination and use of scarce funds. The eventual allocation of funds should based on the quality of the AWPs submitted by individual agencies and the immediate past performances of the respective agencies. The scope of the AWPs should be strictly related to the likely funding available.

With regard to the T&V system its successful implementation requires systematic planning, motivated and experienced leadership, regular flows of budgeted funding and sufficient incentives for field workers. Incentives are particularly critical in isolated, remote areas. These ingredients are all dependent on incremental funding which the GOS will not be able to provide through its normal revenue sources. Logically a system with fewer, but better motivated and supported personal, should be developed which is commensurate with the available level of funding.


1/ "Irrigable area" is larger than "cultivated land" because the same "culltivated land" maybe cropped more than once in a calendar year.

2/ Particularly the macro-economic and policy constraints.

3/ IFAD should consider paying at least part of the necessary incentive.

 

 

LANGUAGES: English

Oaxaca Integrated Rural Development Project - Ex-post evaluation(1991)

Mexico  
mayo 1991

Ex-post evaluation

Área rural de la Chatina (en Juquila y Sola de Vega), Miahuatlán y Pochutla, Estado de Oaxaca. Es una de las más pobres del Estado de Oaxaca, que es -a su vez- uno de los estados menos desarrollados de México, y el de mayor concentración de población indígena, prevaleciendo la propiedad comunal.

Objetivos del proyecto y diseño

Grupo objetivo

Los beneficiarios previstos eran 15 000 familias (aproximadamente 85 000 personas), pertenecientes a los grupos más pobres de la población, en su mayoría indígenas.

Objetivos y componentes

El proyecto proponía mejorar las condiciones de vida de la población rural pobre a través del incremento de la producción y la diversificación de las actividades productivas, aumentando el ingreso 'per cápita' promedio y generando nuevas oportunidades de empleo, eliminando gradualmente la desnutrición y transformando al área en exportadora de alimentos.

Los componentes eran los siguientes: 1) servicios de producción agrícola (extensión y promoción, titulación, construcción y equipamiento de centros de desarrollo rural), 2) desarrollo agrícola (mejoramiento de pasturas, establecimiento de huertos, rehabilitación de cafetales, programa de pequeñas obras de riego, conservación de suelos), 3) desarrollo forestal (establecimiento de viveros, reforestación, aerofotografía), 4) desarrollo pesquero (provisión de equipo, mejoras en la comercialización), y 5) desarrollo comunitario, 6) mejoramiento de la infraestructura (rehabilitación y mejoramiento de caminos, provisión de agua potable y mejoramiento de los servicios de salud).

Supuestos y efectos esperados

Los objetivos específicos eran: 1) aumentar sustancialmente los cultivos alimenticios y la producción pecuaria, 2) crear oportunidades de empleo e ingresos y diversificarlas mediante la expansión de actividades tales como las forestales, cafetaleras, frutícolas y apícolas, 3) aumentar sustancialmente la producción pesquera y el consumo de pescado y los ingresos de los pescadores pobres, 4) mejorar las condiciones de vida y trabajo de la población participante (salubridad, infraestructura, servicios), y 5) proteger la base de los recursos naturales mediante la conservación de suelo.

La cadena causal prevista era la siguiente: los recursos aportados por el proyecto permitirían la diversificación y aumento de la producción, al permitir un incremento de los rendimientos por el desarrollo tecnológico y por la extensión del área irrigada, lo cual posibilitaría un incremento de los ingresos y una disminución de la desnutrición, mejorando las condiciones de vida de los pequeños productores y sus familias. Complementariamente, las acciones vinculadas a los componentes de desarrollo comunitario y mejoramiento de la infraestructura incidirían de modo directo sobre el bienestar de la población rural pobre.

Los supuestos principales eran los siguientes: que el área disponía de un potencial importante subexplotado, que la población tenía fuertes motivaciones para permanecer en el área, y que una de sus prioridades era alcanzar la autosuficiencia alimenticia.

Evaluación

Contexto de la implementación y su evolución

El proyecto fue diseñado a fines de la década de los años 70, en la época del 'boom' inducido por el incremento en los precios del petróleo, en tanto que fue implementado entre 1981 y 1988, período que corresponde a una de las crisis más profundas y prolongadas que ha atravesado la economía mexicana en los últimos 50 años. De un período de crecimiento con relativa estabilidad de precios se pasó a una fase de inflación con estancamiento, marcada por un fuerte deterioro de los términos de intercambio, y una elevación sustancial de las tasas de interés en los mercados mundiales.

En 1982, año clave en el "despegue" del proyecto, tuvo lugar una devaluación del 40%, triplicándose la tasa de inflación, que pasa del 30% en 1981 al 518 en 1982. Estos acontecimientos tuvieron por lo menos dos repercusiones importantes para el proyecto: 1) aumentó la disponibilidad de recursos en moneda nacional, 2) se desencadenó una política de austeridad gubernamental, que se tradujo en una fuerte reducción del gasto público, disminuyendo los fondos de contrapartida. Los dos efectos combinados gravitaron negativamente sobre el ritmo de desembolsos del proyecto. La contracción del gasto público incidió negativamente no sólo en la cantidad sino también en la calidad de los recursos disponibles para la implementación del proyecto.

Logros obtenidos

La implementación se desarrolló con una concentración de actividades muy diversificadas en áreas reducidas, procurando configurar polos de desarrollo.

Entrega gratuita, pero inoportuna, de medios de producción y de insumos, con insuficiente provisión de servicios apropiados de apoyo.

Combinación de actividades de instituciones federales y estaduales, dando progresivamente más importancia a las estaduales.

Búsqueda de solución a problemas considerados como de primera prioridad por las comunidades (por ejemplo construcción de "palacios municipales") aun cuando no formaban parte del proyecto, como medio para penetrar con las actividades del proyecto.

Se implementaron los componentes previstos en el diseño y además se incluyeron actividades adicionales como resultado de las ofertas institucionales y de las demandas de las poblaciones.

Aunque pudo haber mayor participación popular en las distintas fases del ciclo del proyecto, fueron puestos en práctica un conjunto de mecanismos participativos: 1) los "foros de planificación participativa", que comenzaron a operar en 1985, 2) el estrecho contacto del proyecto con el "Consejo Regional de Pueblos Marginados", que representaba a 16 comunidades (aproximadamente 30 000 personas), 3) la programación de actividades en consulta con las autoridades municipales, y 4) la aplicación de mecanismos de planificación participativa para el diseño de las actividades para la región de Chatina.

Se impulsó el desarrollo de actividades rurales no agropecuarias.

Se construyeron centros para la concentración de servicios de desarrollo rural en poblaciones rurales marginadas.

Se realizaron obras de conservación de suelos con la siembra de maguey.

Beneficiarios. Aunque la confiabilidad de las cifras es limitada, se puede afirmar que el proyecto alcanzó -e incluso excedió- la cifra prevista de beneficiarios. De todas formas, la fragmentación de las acciones del proyecto limitó la magnitud de su impacto, de modo tal que si bien han mejorado las condiciones de vida de la población como consecuencia del proyecto, la dispersión de sus actividades no permitió realizar transformaciones radicales, excepto en el caso de los regantes y de los cafecticultores.

La supervisión se desarrolló a varios niveles: por parte de la Coordinación (por parte del personal de seguimiento y evaluación), por parte de las instituciones ejecutoras (a nivel de la Delegación Estadual de la Secretaría de Programación y Presupuesto), y por parte del Banco Mundial (en su papel de institución cooperante). En la fase final del proyecto también operó un mecanismo de supervisión por parte de los propios beneficiarios, en el caso de la construcción de caminos. En 13 de las 14 misiones de supervisión participó personal del FIDA. Este trabajo de supervisión a múltiples niveles complicó el proceso de implementación del proyecto sin llegar a solucionar problemas críticos que se presentaron, particularmente en lo relativo al desfasaje en la liberación de fondos y a la falta de complementariedad en la ejecución de los componentes.

Este proyecto tuvo dos unidades de seguimiento y evaluación: una para la Chatina y otra para Miahuatlan-Pochutla. Las dos unidades trabajaron con patrones comunes, reuniéndose periódicamente, por lo que la división del trabajo entre ellas sólo correspondió a la división en zonas geográficas. Pero sus funciones no se limitaron a seguimiento y evaluación, también trabajaron en la promoción del proyecto, en la supervisión de las actividades de las dependencias ejecutoras, en la realización de estudios técnicos y en actividades de apoyo para facilitar la penetración del proyecto.

Efectos, impactos y sostenibilidad

Resultado nutricional. Tanto en las zonas de baja como de alta intervención del proyecto el estado nutricional de la población ha evolucionado favorablemente durante la implementación. La mejoría en la situación nutricional fue superior en las áreas de mayor actividad del proyecto en comparación con aquellas en las cuales intervino menos. Además de los efectos positivos en la nutrición asociados al incremento en la producción y en los ingresos, que posibilitaron un mayor acceso a los alimentos, el proyecto también llevó a cabo actividades con efecto directo positivo sobre la nutrición, particularmente mediante la educación nutricional de las familias a través de charlas.

Diversificación productiva. Las actividades destinadas a conseguir la diversificación de las actividades de la población beneficiaria no tuvieron un resultado homogéneo. La fruticultura, por ejemplo, tuvo un éxito limitado, aunque permitieron mostrar el potencial de algunas zonas. Las deficiencias en la ejecución (particularmente la falta de asistencia técnica suministrada conjuntamente -e incluso de forma anticipada- a la entrega de plantas, así como la -a veces- inapropiada calidad del material entregado) limitó considerablemente los resultados alcanzados. Sin embargo, operó un "efecto demostración" a partir de los pocos productores beneficiados, y en ese sentido el proyecto ha sensibilizado a la población sobre las posibilidades de realizar plantaciones de frutales. Las actividades apícolas no prosperaron. En cambio, con el café el resultado fue muy positivo, ya que se verificó una fuerte expansión en la superficie cultivada, en la producción total, en el número de municipios y productores y en los rendimientos. La existencia de un paquete tecnológico apropiado y de una institución especializada para impulsarlo fueron factores cruciales para alcanzar estos resultados positivos. Además, la asistencia técnica y algunos de los insumos eran proporcionados gratuitamente, lo cual -por un lado- facilitó la labor pero -por otro lado- disminuyó la cobertura del programa.

Fuerte crecimiento de la producción, productividad e ingresos de los pequeños productores cafetaleros.

La expansión del café no estuvo asociada a una disminución del área dedicada a alimentos, lo cual evitó crear un conflicto con otro objetivo del proyecto que era la expansión de los cultivos alimenticios.

Reducción de costos de transporte. La construcción de 639 km. de caminos rurales (algunos en zonas relativamente aisladas) permitió una reducción en los costos de transporte de la población y de las mercancías, posibilitando su acceso a los mercados así como a los servicios provistos por centros urbanos que operan como lugares centrales en la región.

Generación de aerofotografía. Se aerofotografiaron 400 000 ha., lo cual está permitiendo realizar programas de aprovechamiento integral de los recursos forestales en comunidades que no hubieran podido sufragar los costos de la aerofotografía, por lo que hubieran quedado excluidas de estos programas.

Desarrollo sustentable de obras de riego. En dos de las cinco obras de riego se han creado Comités de Regantes que cobran por la utilización del agua, aplicando los fondos así recaudados a gastos de reparación y mantenimiento de las obras de riego, lo que ha permitido que las mismas continúen operando aún sin contar con apoyo financiero externo.

Desarrollo microempresarial. El proyecto contribuyó al desarrollo de varias actividades microempresariales, algunas de las cuales continúan funcionando varios años después del cierre del proyecto.

Contención del movimiento migratorio. Si bien las variaciones en la distribución de la población por distrito en Oaxaca no pueden atribuirse al proyecto, se observa que en los cuatro distritos en los que el proyecto tuvo mayor presencia la población total en la década de los años ochenta creció en una proporción significativamente superior a la de Oaxaca en su conjunto.

El proyecto permitió un reforzamiento institucional, tanto de algunas instituciones del gobierno federal que operan en Oaxaca, como de instituciones del gobierno estatal. Además, al trabajar con las comunidades campesinas, indígenas y no indígenas, se fortalecieron estas instituciones no gubernamentales.

Cuestiones principales y recomendaciones

La demora en la aprobación y asignación de fondos fue un factor que incidió muy negativamente en la ejecución del proyecto. Por ejemplo, la imposibilidad de realizar las obras durante los primeros meses del año (dada la estacionalidad de la actividad agrícola), que corresponden en general al período seco, dificultó -y a veces impidió- realizar las actividades en las fechas en que se contaba con los fondos. Además, por dicha estacionalidad, puesto que los fondos tendían a liberarse cuando ya comenzaba la época de actividad agrícola, el costo de oportunidad del trabajo en ese período era más elevado.

Una razón básica para este desfasaje financiero con graves consecuencias para la implementación del proyecto fue la falta de correspondencia del calendario agrícola con el calendario fiscal. Este último hace que sea muy difícil obtener los fondos en los primeros meses del año, que es cuando sería más conveniente, dado el calendario agrícola. Un factor adicional en la demora fue que las instituciones ejecutoras carecían de personal que estuviera en condiciones de realizar los anexos y/o expedientes técnicos con suficiente antelación y cumpliendo los requisitos establecidos por las normativas vigentes.

Falta de apoyo técnico apropiado y oportuno que complementara y en parte antecediera la entrega de activos productivos (animales, árboles frutales y embarcaciones pesqueras).

La entrega de bienes y servicios de modo gratuito limitó la población que el proyecto alcanzó con los recursos disponibles y, además, restringió el grado de exigencia de la población respecto de la calidad de los bienes y servicios aportados por el proyecto. La misión de evaluación de mediano plazo propuso considerar un enfoque intermedio entre el subsidio pleno y el subsidio nulo, pero la cuestión no fue discutida por las misiones de supervisión.

Las recomendaciones de las misiones de supervisión no siempre fueron comunicadas a las instituciones ejecutoras y a veces ni siquiera a la propia Coordinación. Por otra parte, las misiones de supervisión no incluyeron en su agenda la mayoría de los temas y recomendaciones planteados por la misión de evaluación de mediano plazo.

Aunque hubo dos unidades de seguimiento y evaluación, no se dedicaron estrictamente a tareas de seguimiento y evaluación, lo que impidió captar los beneficios que se derivan de la especialización funcional.

El personal de seguimiento y evaluación no trabajó con indicadores clave, aunque se tradujeron al español la lista de indicadores que aparece en el documento del proyecto ("appraisal").

Los factores externos al proyecto prácticamente no fueron tomados en consideración, originando vacíos de información (por ejemplo sobre precios de los productos agropecuarios y precios de los insumos y sobre los parámetros climáticos). Tampoco se recabaron datos sobre los jornales contratados por las dependencias ejecutoras y los días de trabajo aportados por los comuneros.

Existen valiosas fuentes de datos que no fueron explotadas para el seguimiento y la evaluación. Y en relación a la participación de los beneficiarios en el seguimiento y la evaluación, si bien existió la preocupación por efectivizarla, no se avanzó en esa dirección, aún cuando la existencia de comités en las comunidades pudo aprovecharse para establecer mecanismos operativos de seguimiento y evaluación.

El personal de seguimiento y evaluación no dispuso de microcomputadores para su trabajo, ni tuvo acceso a los mismos, lo cual dificultó y limitó considerablemente su labor.

Las limitaciones del seguimiento y evaluación, que se agravaron en la fase final de la implementación (desde 1987), dieron lugar a la existencia de vacíos de información significativos, particularmente en lo que respecta a los datos físicos.

Para evitar o reducir al mínimo las demoras en la liberación de los recursos, se deben utilizar mecanismos existentes o nuevos que permitan compatibilizar el ciclo fiscal con el ciclo agrícola. Ejemplo de los primeros es el "Acuerdo de Secas", en tanto que un mecanismo nuevo sería la creación en el marco de un proyecto de un fondo de asistencia técnica local que apoye a las instituciones en la preparación de los "expedientes o anexos técnicos" requeridos como pasos previos para la liberación de los recursos. Eventualmente, el equipo de la coordinación del proyecto podría contar con personal técnico que esté en condiciones de prestar esta asistencia a las instituciones ejecutoras o a quienes deben presentar la documentación requerida. Otro mecanismo que puede resultar apropiado es la apertura de una "cuenta especial" por parte del FIDA, para minimizar las consecuencias de los rezagos en los reembolsos.

En los paquetes tecnológicos, tanto en las actividades agrícolas como en las no agrícolas, debe prestarse especial atención al excedente monetario neto, esto es, a la diferencia entre los ingresos monetarios percibidos y los costos monetarios pagados, así como al retorno por peso invertido (en lugar de limitar la atención a los rendimientos físicos, o en la expansión de la producción o en el incremento de los ingresos).

Es conveniente no involucrar instituciones del gobierno federal simultáneamente con instituciones del gobierno estatal, particularmente si tienen un mismo campo de actividad (por ejemplo, extensión).

Lecciones aprendidas

En algunos informes de Evaluación se afirma que las supervisiones realizadas por la institución cooperante son limitadas, y se recomienda la participación directa de FIDA en estas misiones para superar sus deficiencias. La experiencia del proyecto Oaxaca muestra que, incluso con la participación de FIDA en estas misiones, la supervisión puede ser deficiente. Por ello, se puede concluir que las deficiencias de las misiones de supervisión no sólo se solucionan con la participación de personal FIDA en las mismas.

La entrega de bienes y servicios del proyecto de forma gratuita tiene diversas consecuencias negativas: 1) limita la población que puede ser atendida por el proyecto, 2) restringe el grado de exigencia de la población respecto de la calidad de los bienes y servicios aportados por el proyecto, 3) disminuye el valor e importancia que la población da a esos bienes y servicios, por lo que hace difícil asegurar su sostenibilidad futura. Por ello, es más recomendable elegir una solución intermedia entre el subsidio total y el subsidio nulo, ya sea desde el principio de la implementación del proyecto, o después de un período de subsidio pleno.

Si la población objetivo del proyecto incluye población indígena, deberán tomarse en cuenta durante la fase de diseño del proyecto aspectos culturales que tienen consecuencias importantes en cuestiones básicas para el desarrollo rural, tales como las aspiraciones de la población, el patrón de cultivos (y de producción en general) y la adopción de tecnologías, así como la disponibilidad estacional de la fuerza de trabajo. Estas cuestiones también deben ser analizadas mediante estudios de caso durante la implementación del proyecto, por lo cual deben asignarse fondos con esa finalidad (en el marco de las actividades de seguimiento y evaluación). Es altamente recomendable que los técnicos que intervengan en el proyecto dominen la lengua de la población beneficiaria.

En la etapa del diseño del proyecto es fundamental realizar consultas detalladas con la población que será destinataria del proyecto, y con especialistas locales (incluyendo, de ser posible, intelectuales y/o especialistas que pertenezcan a dicha población), sobre los objetivos y medios del proyecto e -incluso- sobre el nombre que se le dará al mismo.

Durante la implementación del proyecto es conveniente identificar las obras realizadas por el mismo con placas mencionando el proyecto y a las instituciones intervinientes (incluyendo al FIDA), e identificar los vehículos y equipo del proyecto con sellos que señalen que pertenecen al proyecto. Estos y otros medios que se consideren adecuados deben utilizarse con el fin de asegurar la visibilidad institucional del proyecto en general y del FIDA en particular. Una posibilidad a explorar es la inclusión de una cláusula en el contrato de préstamo que exija dicha identificación.

La reforestación vinculada al aprovechamiento económico del bosque por parte de las comunidades rurales tiene muchas más probabilidades de dar buenos resultados que cuando se la encara como una actividad por sí misma. En el primer caso los campesinos tienen un interés creado en la conservación del recurso.

La utilización del maguey y nopal con fines de conservación de suelos puede dar muy buenos resultados en zonas áridas siempre y cuando se tomen en cuenta un conjunto de condiciones: que se planten variedades adecuadas o que hayan sido previamente adaptadas al medio, que no se siembre en hileras a favor de la pendiente (esta práctica puede -incluso- propiciar la erosión), sino que se siembre en curvas de nivel a espacio suficiente para permitir limpias anuales y para impedir el arrastre, y que se realice una siembra escalonada.

Tanto en el seguimiento como en la evaluación del proyecto debe darse oportunidad a la población beneficiaria para que participe activamente. Aún si no se consigue que la población participe en el diseño y programación del proyecto (y deberán hacerse los mayores esfuerzos posibles para que dicha participación tenga lugar), de todas formas la población puede y debe participar en el seguimiento y la evaluación. Para ello, es fundamental que se le proporcione a los beneficiarios información oportuna y detallada sobre lo que el proyecto debe realizar y sobre las realizaciones, tanto en lo que respecta a montos como a localizaciones y períodos.

Debe promoverse un intercambio de experiencias entre proyectos FIDA con algunas características similares, tanto entre proyectos vigentes como entre proyectos concluidos.

 

LANGUAGES: English, Spanish

Integrated Rural Development Project (1991)

Dominica  
abril 1991

Mid-term evaluation

This report distils and synthesizes the principal findings and recommendations of partial evaluations by IFAD consultants of the Integrated Rural Development Project (IRDP), co-funded by IFAD and Government of the Commonwealth of Dominica (GOCD). It also incorporates a mid-term partial evaluation and baseline survey conducted by OAS in 1990.

Project background and objectives

The IRDP was formulated in concert with the GOCD's overall objectives of agricultural diversification, income growth, reduced unemployment, increased exports, and overall economic growth. The project aims to achieve its objectives by supporting the settlement of former estate workers with the provision of credit, inputs, technical services, and infrastructural improvements.

IFAD funded the IRDP as a follow up to its previous support to the agricultural sector through the Agricultural Credit for Food Production and Related Services Project (hereafter IFAD-1).

The IFAD loan to the Commonwealth of Dominica for the IRDP has a 20 year term, a grace period of 5 years with an interest rate of 4% per annum. The total planned project cost is US$ 2,996 million; of which IFAD is financing US$ 1,502 million, or 50%, with the remaining 50% financed by the GOCD.

The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) is the cooperating institution, and the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) is the main executing agency. The Dominica Agricultural and Industrial Development Bank (DAIDB) is responsible for administering the credit fund for small farmer lending. The project commenced officially in November 1986, and has a completion date of December 1991, although it is likely to be extended.

Target group

The project is targeted to approximately 640 settlers/farm households on the former Geneva and Castle Bruce estates; most of them were landless or near landless, and were plantation labourers. Their per capita income was estimated at US$ 180 per year, as compared to the gross national per capita income of US$ 970 (1983), and below the absolute rural poverty per capita income level of US$ 185. 90% of the target group cultivated less than 2 acres of land. Credit was targeted to roughly 600 project participants outside the estates, mostly artisanal fishermen, small agro-processors, small farmers with less than 10 acres of cultivable land, and rural people with gross family incomes of less than US$ 2,000 per year. 28% of the proposed settlers were women and heads of households, in a country where women make up 35% of the labour force. Other participants included fish vendors, hucksters, landless livestock rearers and cottage industry workers.

IRDP components and implementation

Development of the estate settlement areas, through developing agricultural stations, with input supplies, training centres, farm settlement access roads, marketing facilities, and slaughter houses Physical improvements have essentially been completed on both estates. Farm lots were assigned and approved by 1986 in Geneva, and by 1988 in Castle Bruce. Approximately 371 farmers with lots ranging in size from 0.4 to 9.7 acres are settled in Geneva, and 235 farmers with lots from 0.1 to 14.6 acres are settled in Castle Bruce. Land was allocated on the basis of existing holdings, and on the recommendations of a committee made up of small farmers and government officials. 26% of the lots in Geneva and 20% in Castle Bruce were allocated to women.

The agricultural research stations have been upgraded on both settlements, and the plant propagation unit has been upgraded to introduce new crops such as hot peppers, passion fruit, papayas, mangos and avocados. Farm settlement roads have been completed on Geneva, providing all farms with ready access to roads. The access roads in Castle Bruce are almost completed, leaving all farms except for 23 across the river within 100 meter access to the roads. Implementation has been delayed by the conflicting demands for equipment and labour from the institution responsible for road construction and maintenance. Road maintenance, envisioned to be conducted by project beneficiaries, is deficient. Marketing facilities are operating in Geneva, and are under construction in Castle Bruce, with expected completion by the end of 1991. The proposed slaughterhouses have been given low priority as farmers have much greater interest in crop production.

Credit provision

The credit component consists of approximately US$ 1.2 million, representing 73% of IFAD's contribution to the Project, and 37% of total project costs. Credit was expected to reach approximately 1,100

borrowers; 500 settlers, and 600 non-settlers. 43% of these funds were targeted to estate settlers. Additionally, US$ 218,518 (20% of credit funds) are to be lent from DAIDB to the Dominica Cooperative Credit Union League (DCGUL) for on-lending through its 23 credit union affiliates. This agreement has only recently been effectuated ~May ~, 1991), after four years of negotiations over the interest rate to be charged the final borrower by the credit union. The Appraisal report included the participation of credit unions in credit delivery under IRDP, as in IFAD-1. However, the credit unions were requested to lend to the final borrower at 12% annual interest rates, which they felt would put them in unfair competition with DAIDB who lends IRDP funds at an annual interest rate of 8.5%. Under the current agreement, the credit unions will be lending at 9.5 - 10% annual interest rates. The credit unions' refusal to participate in IFAD-1 was due to the lack of an insufficient spread to cover costs.

DAIDB currently administers 8 lines of credit for agriculture, each with its own specific target groups, lending criteria, and interest rates. IFAD funds accounted for 49% of the bank's agricultural credit portfolio in 1983, and for 25% in 1990. IFAD accounted for 68% of the number and 28% of the value of agricultural loans from July 1989 to June 1990. The average loan size was US$ 1,185. The main loan activity was for bananas (80% of the number and value), root crops (6% of the number and 5.5% of the value), and livestock (3.5% of the number and value).

Lending rates charged by commercial banks and DAIDB have been positive in real terms over the IRDP life to date.

DAIDB measures up adequately to standard financial indicators. Asset and capital formation have both been increasing. DAIDB has generated surplus income in all years from 1984 to 1990, except for 1985 and 1987, although a large proportion is from non-lending activities.

The credit component encouraged DAIDB to lend to small farmers. However, although DAIDB has been implementing agricultural credit programs for 10 years, it has not acquired the characteristics necessary for lending to small farmers; rural presence either through branches, vans, or extension staff; character and feasibility based lending; group lending; etc.

IRDP loan ceilings are viewed as a constraint by DAIDB which claims that borrowers usually seek larger loans. At times, therefore, a borrower may receive 2 loans from 2 different credit schemes to make up the amount sought.

Farmers with larger land holdings received a greater proportion of loans. Whereas 62% of the farmers have under 2 acres of land, the remaining 38% of farmers with 4 or more acres of land received 60% of the total number of loans. This concentration of credit is due to the fact that those with larger holdings can meet DAIDB's collateral requirements more so than small farmers, and are in an overall better position to qualify for credit from the bank.

Women headed households which account for 28% of the farms in the settlement areas received ll% of total loans disbursed. Women's access to credit is constrained by a lack of awareness of the IRDP credit program, and lack of assistance in accessing it.

It is generally felt that the lack of credit union participation from project inception has excluded women and smaller farmers from being benefited, particularly since 60% of the credit unions' membership base is made up of women. In addition, the credit unions have several comparative advantages in terms of reaching the target group; flexibility, more convenient operating hours, island-wide penetration, a membership base from over 50% of the population, less stringent collateral requirements, diversified range of services, and a community orientation. However, they are also over-leveraged, and lack significant experience in agricultural or targeted lending. Given the credit union's recent agreement to participate in the project, which had been pending on the resolution of lowering the interest rate charged to borrowers, it is expected that larger numbers of the target group will be reached.

Arrears as a percent of principal outstanding has increased from 11% in 1985 and 1986 to 35% in 1989 and 45% in 1990. Again, in the period 1985-1990, in 4 of the 6 years over 70% of the delinquent loans were in arrears of over 12 months, indicating the lesser probability of recovering them.

The increase in arrears can be directly attributed to changes in staffing patterns and arrangements from IFAD-1 to present. Under IFAD-1, PIU staff were housed in DAIDB, and directly appraised, approved and disbursed loans, as well as provided continuous and close supervision, resulting in rapid approvals and disbursements, and high repayments. The PIU has since been moved to the MOA. Although DAIDB has replaced IRDP staff, these replacements were not individuals with the same sensitivity and knowledge of small farmer credit needs. The departure of the credit RDO in 1988 has left a void unfilled by either IRDP or DAIDB.

The increased borrower transaction costs, the lack of supervision, and communication, and the separation of responsibilities for loan disbursement and loan collection in 2 divisions in DAIDB exacerbates the arrears problem.

DAIDB assumes a higher transactions cost than its other lines in processing the small loans stipulated by IRDP. It is not compensated by a higher interest rate it can charge on these loans, which may be an automatic disincentive for promoting the IRDP credit line.

DAIDB's low profitability of lending operations can be attributed to several explanations: high operating costs and inadequate spreads to cover them, high arrears, low lending volumes, and under-utilization of staff resources.

The subsidy per borrower, given average loan sizes of US$ 1,185, is approximately US$ 148, which is equal to 9% of per capita income in 1989. This transfer of resources has affected 575, or 8% of the farmers in Dominica.

Improvement of fish landing sites

At project appraisal, this component involved the improvement of 18 fish landing sites, including eight sites where work would complement improvements already introduced under IFAD-1.

This component has since been absorbed by a US$ 2.9 million WFP and GOCD funded fisheries development project, administered by the Fisheries Division of MOA, with no formal links with IRDP.

Assistance to promote an agro-processing sector

This component has been relatively inactive, in large part due to personnel shortages within the agro-processing laboratory. It is managed separately from the IRDP. This component has not led to the development of new products for local processing or for export.

Project organization and management

IRDP management has benefitted from the continuity of competent staff from IFAD-1. At project initiation, the project manager, two rural development officers (RDOs) for Geneva, and the project secretary were appointed. This group made up the same group that managed IFAD-1.

However, IRDP has been under-staffed over its course. At inception, staffing plans included a project manager, and 4 RDOs: 2 marketing specialists and 2 credit/extension specialists, 1 of each per estate, and a project secretary. For instance, the Geneva credit/extension RDO has not been replaced since his departure in 1988. A marketing assistant, not an IRDP core staff member, has been assisting in the development and marketing of ginger at Geneva. The full time marketing officer is on a training program in the U.K. One RDO with livestock expertise was assigned to Castle Bruce in late 1989. It is planned that the marketing RDO for Castle Bruce will be hired once the marketing facilities are completed. It should be noted that the project manager is also responsible for the Melville Hall Estate Project, funded by the CDB which is modelled on the IRDP.

Monitoring and evaluation

This component is financed by the Organization of American States (OAS), and is the responsibility of the Economic Development Unit (EDU) within the Ministry of Planning. To date, a baseline survey and a mid-term survey of the Geneva settlement area has been conducted. The M&E officer from EDU has been sent on several training programs.

The M&E component has not served its role as an important management tool. While the M&E system has complied with project plans, the design of this function in the project itself was inadequate. The M&E function has not fully assisted project management. It has acted instead as a recipient of consolidated reports prepared by the project manager, instead of the collector and provider of this information to the project manager.

Key issues and recommendations

Targeting issues: appropriate criteria and credit policies: Through applying a low loan ceiling, IFAD appears to have 'democratized' the credit operations of DAIDB, where loans were made with IFAD funds to small borrowers who would have been excluded by the criteria of the other lines. However, although loan ceiling have directed credit to smaller farmers, low loan ceilings in of themselves do not limit loans to the smallest borrower. Borrowers often receive 2 or more loans from different credit schemes to make up the amount requested. Limiting all loans to those with under 7 acres of land would be a more effective targeting tool than loan ceilings, provided that actual land holdings could be estimated, and differences in land quality be taken into consideration.

DAIDB should consider establishing positive market interest rates. It is more expensive to process small loans than large loans, and being required to charge a lower interest rate for costlier lending operations acts as a disincentive for the bank to promote the IRDP credit line, given its relatively low ceilings on loan size. DAIDB interest rates under IRDP could be revised upwards to 10%, comparable to the rates on the other DAIDB lines, and to the credit unions' rate to be charged under IRDP, to make the IRDP line more attractive for DAIDB to promote. IFAD funds are competing with higher interest earning credit lines within DAIDB. The issue of credit for the rural poor is often a question of timely access to rather than the cost of credit.

Appropriate implementing institution: Given that DAIDB has failed to adopt the characteristics necessary for small farmer lending, the question arises as to whether DAIDB is the appropriate primary lending channel to reach IFAD's target population. Perhaps the total remaining undisbursed loan funds could be channelled through the credit unions, BASED on their performance in managing and monitoring the first tranche of funds under the project. In addition, alternative sub-contracting arrangements discussed under New Directions could be explored.

Lack of savings mobilization: DAIDB currently does not mobilize savings, in large part since it believes not to be ready to manage this function well. DAIDB must learn to operate on the basis of mobilized

savings and earned income, to progressively reduce dependency on external donor capital infusions.

Increase gender equity: IRDP has not been very successful in targeting women directly, although un-single women benefit indirectly through improved household income. Although 26% (96) of the lots were allocated to women on the Geneva settlement, and 2% (8) were jointly held, only 4 women have received credit. Although there is no overt discrimination on the part of project implementors, there has been no overt steps taken to increase women's direct participation. There is a need to include a 'compensatory bias' so that women are encouraged to access project resources.

Improve borrowers' credit access: An important factor determining farmer access to credit is the current lack of credit supervision to farmers. No or minimal extension services are provided to farmers by

DAIDB, which, according to persons interviewed, has lost its orientation and mandate to service the small farmer. There are no credit experts on the current IRDP team to provide this supervision. The IRDP project needs to address this critical 'missing link' to ensure project impact. This can be addressed by hiring staff with credit expertise, and/or training current staff in credit management and loan feasibility analysis. Ideally, DAIDB should be the institution providing this expertise, given its mandate.

Project contribution to agricultural diversification: IRDP is contributing to agricultural diversification, particularly through introducing ginger, as well as through assistance in passion fruit and hot pepper production. Although agricultural diversification from bananas was stated as an objective at the time of appraisal, it was not specific about what crops to diversify to. IRDP has been successful in identifying and promoting crops suitable to Dominica with export potential.

The diversification process has been slower than expected due to the rise in banana prices over this period, and farmers' obvious response to market forces. Consequently, almost 80% of all loans approved from IRDP sources in 1988-1990 were for bananas. The introduction of new agricultural crops is constrained by the efficient infrastructure provided farmers for bananas by the Dominica Banana Marketing Corporation (DBMC).

Project management: Staff continuity of the project manager, and of the credit RDO initially, and the competence of the project manager have enhanced project management. However, the project has been understaffed over its course. Staff levels were not maintained as originally planned, and key staff departures were not replaced by persons of similar technical capabilities.

Participatory approach: IRDP has benefitted from incorporating a participatory approach in the preliminary stages. The project manager was brought on board during the design stage, and was key in contributing to the project formulation, drawing on hi~ experience of having managed IFAD-1.

The participatory means through which land distribution and settlement was decided upon gave project beneficiaries a sense of ownership of the project.

Institutional development and sustainability: The IRDP has made some important strides towards institutional development and sustainability. IFAD funds have contributed to sustaining DAIDB. The bank measures up adequately to standard financial indicators. Asset and capital formation have both been increasing. DAIDB has generated surplus income in all years from 1984 to 1990, except for 1985, and 1987.

IRDP has assisted in the formation of Farmer Advisory Groups, resulting in the development of a strong group at Castle Bruce. At Geneva estate, ginger producers have organized a Ginger Producers' Group, which currently has 23 members, and is seeking cooperative status. It is expected that this group will take over all ginger marketing activities after project end. Increased production has also encouraged a private exporter of fruits and vegetables. Farmer ownership of the project is already occurring, through the progressive phase-out of earlier subsidies provided for inputs, transport, and marketing.

IRDP: replicability and demonstration effects: IRDP has served as the pilot test, and is currently the model upon which other rural development projects are being designed and implemented in Dominica.

Impacts: The IRDP is making a significant contribution to national agricultural output. The Geneva settlement area alone contributes a significant proportion of the national production for ginger (27%), dasheen (5%) and avocados. Ginger production increased from 15.5 tons in 1988/89 to 57.9 tons in 1989/1990.

Fifty one percent of farmers surveyed felt that their standard of living was higher since joining the project, and 39% felt that it remained the same. 45% of women respondents felt their living standards had improved, compared with 53% of men. 38% felt that they enjoy a better standard of living than non-project farmers. In fact, farmers doubled their stocks of consumer goods since the baseline survey conducted in 1987. Roughly 70% of the settlement population have doubled their income since appraisal, from approximately US$ 93-185 per month to US$ 220-370 per month. 98% of fishermen surveyed felt that their standard of living improved since project initiation.

The land settlement was a significant channel for a more equitable land distribution pattern. Prior to settlement only 30% of the population on the estates owned land, while the IRDP land divesture made all settlers on the estates land owners.

The project has stimulated both backward and forward linkages. Increased production has led to increased demand for inputs and tools, provided by other farmers and private traders. In terms of forward linkages, increased output has increased the activity of the hucksters in marketing produce. Given the increased number of farm household members working off the farm since the 1987 baseline survey, increased income, or access to land has permitted farm members to engage in other income generating activities, and in turn hire wage labour to work the farms. Given that labour shortages are repeatedly cited as a major constraint by farmers, it can be assumed that the project has had a positive effect in decreasing unemployment in and around the settlement areas.

Appropriateness of technical packages: The technical packages are considered appropriate by those farmers who received them; primarily men. One hundred ninety seven farmers, 29 of which were women, had adopted them as of mid-1990. Womens' adoption of these packages is constrained by labour shortages, high labour costs, and the length of time (two months) for land preparation for the packages. Proper land preparation and larger plots of land are the critical elements in adopting these packages for new crops. In addition, women's smaller plots make them more risk-averse to allocating scarse resources for uncertain returns. These gender-specific constraints call for devoting specific efforts to women, including the design of a technical package tailored to their resource availabilities.

IRDP has made use of existing technologies in training and extension. It has applied training videos developed by FAO's 'Videos for Rural Development' project in its extension services, and often worked directly with the FAO project staff in identifying needs and providing technical expertise for the production of videos for extension. This has reportedly been highly successful, leading to noticeable changes in farming systems based on the videos, particularly in the case of ginger.

Physical contributions: The project has successfully met planned physical outputs, making adaptations of the original plan as necessary and practical during project implementation. Progress has been slower than planned, due to limited availability of equipment from the Ministry of Communications and Public Works (MCPW). Although most of the planned physical infrastructure is either completed or underway, facilities and roads maintenance is a problem. Although envisioned that project beneficiaries would be responsible for maintenance, in reality this has not yet occurred.

Marketing of agricultural produce: IRDP has been responsive to the marketing constraints faced by farmers. The project has encouraged the development of a private exporter of fruits and vegetables, as well as the development of the Ginger Producers' group, which is expected to take over ginger marketing activities. IRDP has also been successful in developing an agreement with CATCO to export ginger to the U.K., thus identifying a marketing channel for sustained production.

The marketing problems have implications for the crop diversification program. Unless there is a marketing channel like the DBMC or that created for ginger through CATCO, or greater links are developed between the local market and other regional islands for market expansion, the goals of agricultural diversification can not be reached.

New directions

Increase support in agricultural marketing: The marketing of increased agricultural output from IRDP interventions has not been dealt with sufficiently. Discussions with the Dominica Export Import Agency

(DEXIA) highlighted the difficulty in responding to demand for produce, given the basic lack of infrastructure and links set-up from the producer to the distribution systems in other regional islands for Dominican produce. There is a dearth of cold storage equipped transport and storage facilities. A project revision or follow-on should incorporate a component which would assist DEXIA in setting up the links to actually deliver the products it promotes. Possibilities for assisting the National Huckster's Association should be explored, given their role in exporting approximately 70% of the non-banana produce to other islands. These would include adequate grading and packaging centres, as well as cold storage and storage facilities. The possibility of DBMC extending its current services for the banana sector to other crops is being explored by DBMC and the MOA. This appears to be a viable option. The DBMC is well-perceived by farmers, and has an established and efficient infrastructure island-wide.

Include microentrepreneurs in target group: Given evidence of increased off-farm employment, IRDP should seek to reach other participants of the informal or micro and small enterprise (MSE) sector. This group was identified as part of the target group at the time of appraisal. While agricultural diversification has been given priority in the overall development strategy, assisting the MSE sector, to promote off-farm employment and income growth will lead to a more diversified economic base. Given increased information on the structure of rural poverty, an extended approach that caters to the multiple income sources of the poor should be better incorporated and addressed in IRDP.

The expanded target group can be reached through: i) Expanding the credit eligibility criteria currently used by DAIDB to include loans for small enterprise activities; ii) Providing support through local institutions such as the National Development Foundation of Dominica (NDFD), the credit unions, and others already assisting MSEs; iii) Providing training in food-processing to expand the agro-processing sector; iv). Not targeting loan use. Loan use should be left to the discretion of borrowers, with project emphasis on loan repayment rates, to serve as a proxy of productive loan use; v). Publicizing the availability of credit for an expanded range of activities.

Sub-contract service arrangements for project implementation: Given the NDFD's success in lending to MSEs, as well as their proven methodology of linked credit and technical assistance, a possible approach would be to 'sub-contract' the NDFD to manage DAIDB's IRDP portfolio, and thus provide the assistance in promoting services, qualifying applicants, and loan supervision and follow-up. The NDFD itself is too small to manage the entire loan portfolio, but they could provide the expertise necessary for successful implementation of the IRDP credit component. They would in effect serve as the bridge between the target group and DAIDB; a capability currently not available within IRDP ~r DAIDB.

According to the NDFD credit officer (the former IRDP credit RDO), farmers from the Geneva estate are contacting him to receive loans from the NDFD, since they feel they have no access to DAIDB anymore, given the current void in the services initially provided under the project. The explanation offered by DAIDB for low IRDP credit disbursements is that credit demand reached an early saturation point, particularly in the Geneva settlement, and had been over-estimated. This contradiction could be due to DAIDB's concentration on the not-so-poor farmers.

Gender concerns: Increasing Women's Participation: Although no overt discrimination was cited as a factor limiting women's participation, no overt steps were taken to increase it. What is being proposed is preferential treatment of women's constraints. Certain mechanisms for better integrating women in IRDP are: i). Support off-farm and microenterprise activities that up to 40% of women reported to be engaged in; ii). Provide training for project personnel to sensitize them to the productive roles of women, as soon as project execution begins. A lack of gender awareness, knowledge or understanding of women-specific constraints on the part of the PIU limited women's participation; iii). Train extensionists to work with women producers, or incorporate female staff in extension teams. Women 'barefoot extension' workers should be trained among rural women themselves, as a step in a long-term strategy to develop local capacity; iv). Use gender-disaggregated data, in order to track the differential performance of women; v). Promote the project to women through women's organizations, and extension workers, maternal clinics, etc. Lack of information about the existence of the DAIDB credit source was one of the major reasons why so few women approached the bank for loans. Bank intimidation and reticence by women should be overcome by several 'outreach' activities; such as organizing special meetings in the settlement areas at hours convenient to women, such as late afternoon; vi). Minimize collateral based lending, and rely instead on character, prior repayment records, income earning potential, use of an internal guarantee fund, and incentives of future access to credit; vii). Target training programs appropriately to user needs. Schedule sessions at - times and places convenient to women.

Project management: The project should acquire credit expertise through hiring at least one credit expert. The Project Technical Advisory Committee should include representation from the agro-processing laboratory and from DEXIA as originally conceived, given their importance to overall project integration.

Credit targeting and administration: Reflow funds should be added to the IRDP revolving loan fund and lent at prevailing IRDP interest rates.

An appropriate management information system need~ to be established in DAIDB, to help improve the types and quality of information flows.

Loan approval, and collection should lie within the functions of the same department, to ensure accountability. An incentive system which rewards credit officers to make sound lends could be used. Such a system has been used with positive results by an NGO in the Dominican Republic, which makes loans to microentrepreneurs.

Arrears control mechanisms need to be installed. These may be through: hiring/training staff within DAIDB in small farmer lending; loan feasibility analysis-based lending; appropriate loan supervision; making group loans; making more frequent shorter-term loans; and tying current loan repayment to the possibility of more credit. It needs to be assessed whether the increased costs of these measures will exceed the cost of arrears.

DAIDB needs to have a larger rural presence in order to service its client base of the IRDP target group. This does not necessarily imply establishing branches, but could be done through the use of rural credit officers, mobile banks, part-time location at the banana boxing plants on the settlements during banana collections and payment disbursement time.

For most small farmers, reliable access to small and short-term loans is more valuable than having large and long-term loans. These should be tested in the case of Dominica, where current loan terms average two years.

The credit unions should be closely monitored in their administration of the credit funds, given their very recent participation in the project, and their relatively limited experience in agriculture or targeted lending.

DAIDB and the credit unions should be allowed greater discretion in establishing positive market rates of interest, after assuring certain efficiency levels.

If DAIDB does not assume the characteristics of a lending vehicle for small farmers, based on the recommendations of this report, it must be decided whether DAIDB should continue in the project as the primary lending institution. Perhaps the DCCUL could assume this role, based on the quality of its management of the initial tranche of funds.

Loan use should not be targeted. It should be left to the discretion of borrower~, with project emphasis on loan repayment rates, to serve as a proxy of productive loan use. The multiple income sources and fungibility of funds within a farm household often diffuses the impact of targeted loan use.

The use of credit for ginger, and the development of ginger as an export crop, an unplanned yet very positive outcome under IRDP, demonstrates the benefits of unrestricting the actual application of credit. On the other hand, the highest arrears were for loans for food crops for consumption, which were targeted in the Appraisal report. It is a merit of the project and IFAD that the project's flexible approach incorporated activities of great benefit to the target group, which were not initially contemplated. In addition, the credit unions are not experienced in targeted lending, and requiring them to assume the burden of tracking actual loan use would deviate them from more important lending and collecting operations.

Technical assistance to increase farmers', and in particular womens access to credit should be provided both to DAIDB and to the IRDP project management team. The appropriateness of the current criteria used for targeted lending, such as the loan ceilings, need to be tested and possibly revised if necessary.

Further assistance to the sector should promote savings mobilization, and should assist the financial implementing institutions with improving savings opportunities for the rural poor. Further injections of external donor credit prolong the delay in savings mobilization.

Measure project impact: A future project design should include the design and provision for the systematic collection of data that will permit an assessment of project impact. It is costly and near impossible to retroactively reconstruct the dynamic flow of funds and their use and impact on the farm household. Impact with respect to assets, income, education, savings, nutrition, and other variables should be collected and compared with the pre-project status, even though a project can only partially be credited with any positive or negative differential.

IFAD funds should be provided for M&E. IFAD has earned a 'pioneer' reputation in this function, and should draw on its comparative advantage in directly supervising and supporting this function. Again, donor agencies are often concerned with certain impact issues, related to the appropriate allocation of resources for development programs. There is a cost associated with this function, and IFAD should fund this component, given its interest in the results and outcome of its projects for further programming lessons.

Improve project information flows: CDB supervision reports have not been submitted to IRDP project management, and there were extensive delays in the project manager receiving the various evaluation reports and WID case study from IFAD. Delays in information sharing defeat the very purpose for which these reviews are often conducted: improving project performance.

Conclusion

It is expected that incorporating the recommendations outlined above will further improve the IRDP's performance in delivering services and generating benefits for the rural poor of Dominica.

 

LANGUAGES: English

Projet de Développement Rural de l'Atacora

Benin  
marzo 1991

La zone du projet, la préfecture d'Atacora, est caractérisée par une grande diversité agro-écologique. Elle est en fait constituée de 4 sous régions très différentes:

  • la zone cotonnière à l'Est avec une pluviométrie de 800-1.200 mm, une densité de population faible (13 hab/km2), des systèmes de production basés sur les céréales (sorgho et mais) et le coton;
  • la zone Nord Ouest menacé par la sahélisation avec des pluies aléatoires de 800 à 1000 mm, des sols souvent dégradés, une fertilité médiocre, une densité de population élevée (30 hab/km2), un système d'exploitation exclusivement vivrier après l'arrêt de la culture d'arachide en 1988. Le parc bocager est en cours de destruction et le striga très présent.
  • la zone centrale avec 800-1.300 mm, une densité de population élevée et un système d'exploitation vivrier. C'est une zone fragile.
  • la zone Sud, 1.100-1.400 mm, peu peuplée (6 hab/km2), des sols fertiles et des productions vivrières (igname, mais, manioc, sorgho).

Conception et objectifs du projet

Groupe cible

La population cible était constituée de 21.000 exploitations soit 35% des agriculteurs de la région. Aucun autre critère ne définissait plus précisément le groupe cible.

Objectifs et composantes

L'objectif général du projet était d'améliorer les conditions de vie de la population.

Les objectifs spécifiques du projet étaient: i) d'augmenter la productivité du travail pour les cultures vivrières; ii) d'améliorer la productivité de l'élevage bovin; iii) de faciliter l'accès à l'eau potable; et iv) de renforcer l'institution CARDER.

Les composantes du projet ont été les suivantes:

  • vulgarisation des techniques agricoles à travers un système T&V et mise en place d'essais multilocaux de démonstration (4 sites expérimentaux de 8 ha chacun, 80 champs d'essai en milieu paysan de 0,1 à 0,2 ha)
  • distribution d'intrants et de matériel de culture attelée: construction de magasins, distribution de 1.700 charrues et de 1.725 canadiens, financement de la SONAPRA pour des achats additionnels d'intrants à concurrence de 440 millions de FCFA et de la CRCAM/CLAM à travers la CNCA pour un montant de 20 millions de FCFA.
  • assurer le crédit de campagne et d'équipement;
  • produire les semences améliorées nécessaires à la ZP. La ferme semencière de Donga devait produire 64 t de semences en fin de projet.
  • construire une centaine de puits;
  • construire 20 barrages collinaires (pour des retenues de 20.000 m3) et en reconstruire 5.
  • aménager des bas-fonds (500 ha au total);
  • appuyer l'élevage bovin (campagnes de vaccination et équipement de postes vétérinaires);
  • renforcer les infrastructures du CARDER (bâtiments, véhicules);
  • créer une cellule de S&E pour fournir des indicateurs clés donnant l'impact du projet sur les agriculteurs, des statistiques agricoles, une enquête de base.

Une assistance technique importante était prévue (192 h x m).

Effets attendus et hypothèses

On attendait du projet une production additionnelle de 3.400 à 5.300t de mais, 2.300 à 4.200t d'arachide, 4.100 à 7.500t de sorgho, 3.600 à 6.000t de paddy et un accroissement des revenus des agriculteurs de 30 à 50% selon les zones.

La facilité de trouver pour les produits agricoles des débouchés à des prix rémunérateurs était une hypothèse faite par le projet.

Évaluation

Evolution du contexte en cours d'exécution

La mise en oeuvre du PDRA a coincidé avec le début d'une grave crise économique entrainant un fort déficit des dépenses publiques et de la balance des paiements. A partir de juillet 1989, on assiste au désengagement de l'Etat de nombreuses activités et à leur transfert au secteur privé. Les perspectives économiques de début de projet s'en trouvent bouleversées: disparition de filières de commercialisation et de transformation jusque-là structurées par l'Etat (arachide, riz); liquidation de la CNCA et re-création d'un réseau mutualiste dans le cadre d'un projet de réhabilitation; projet de restucturation des CARDER prévoyant de fortes compressions des effectifs du personnel et le démantèlement des activités ne relevant pas strictement des fonctions habituelles du secteur public.

Réalisations du projet

Le CARDER a exécuté le projet en suivant fidèlement le plan d'opérations initial, tout au moins jusqu'à fin 1987; après, le manque de financement l'a amené à arrêter certaines activités (hydraulique rurale) et à en réorienter d'autres (vulgarisation-formation et recherche).

La mise en oeuvre de la vulgarisation a été caractérisée par son ciblage sur des paysans regroupés sur des blocs de culture, un rôle polyvalent des AVA qui assuraient bien d'autres fonctions que la seule vulgarisation (recensement des superficie cultivées, expression des besoins d'intrants, suivi de la commercialisation, alphabétisation), des champs de démonstration avec des protocoles très complexes, conçus comme des essais multilocaux plutot que comme des tests simples et démonstratifs en milieu paysans.

Ont été distribués pour l'essentiel dans les zones de production cotonnière: 2.149 t/an d'engrais, 2.538 charrues, 2.199 butteurs. Les cultures vivrières n'ont pratiquement pas bénéficiées des fournitures d'intrants.

Le crédit de campagne est passé de 59 millions de FCFA en 1983-84 à 516 millions en 1989-90. Le taux de remboursement varie entre 70 et 85%. Le crédit moyen terme est passé de 2 millions en 1987-88 à 52 millions en l'année suivante puis à 47 millions de FCFA en 1989-90. Le taux de remboursement varie entre 30 et 48%.

La production de semences en station n'a pas été satisfaisante (mauvais taux de pureté, mauvaise qualité, prix de revient trop élevé). Elle a été abandonnée en 1986 et transférée à des groupements de production. Le taux d'utilisation des semences améliorées est resté très faible.

L'hydraulique villageoise a enregistrée un taux de réalisation très bas: construction de 25 nouveaux puits, réfection de 3 puits.

En ce qui concerne l'hydraulique pastorale, 5 nouveaux barrages ont été construits et trois anciens réhabilités.

Deux bas fonds ont été aménagés dont un seul de 10 ha est en exploitation.

La composante production animale n'a pas rencontré de difficultés particulières. Elle a bénéficié de la collaboration avec le PEA (Promotion de l'élevage dans l'Atacora).

Le suivi-évaluation, d'abord situé à l'extérieur du projet, n'y a été intégré que tardivement (1985). Doté d'un réseau d'enquêteurs, il n'a pas bénéficié d'assistance technique.

Appréciation des effets du projet et de leur pérennité

Les effets du PDRA au niveau du département sont difficiles à estimer dans la mesure où l'Atacora a bénéficié pendant la même période de nombreux autres projets de développement rural dont les résultats ne sont pas distingués de ceux du PDRA dans les statistiques agricoles du CARDER.

Bénéficiaires: ils se limitent aux producteurs de coton (la moitié des agriculteurs de la zone cotonnière, soit quelque 4 000 à 5 000 familles) et aux producteurs d'arachide groupés en bloc de culture jusqu'en 1988.

L'effet le plus notable sur la production agricole n'était pas prévu: la forte augmentation des surfaces et de la production (+8.000 tonnes) de coton, multipliées par 4 en cours de projet, et ce malgré le gel du prix du coton-graine et l'augmentation du prix des intrants (+50%). Cet effet du projet concerne une zone bien déterminée: trois secteurs de l'est de la ZP caractérisés par un taux de terres disponibles très élevé (pas plus de 10% des terres sont défrichées) et par une densité de population rurale très faible (8%). Une autre culture de rente, l'arachide, a connu une augmentation comparable jusqu'à l'effondrement de la filière huile en 1988. Il semble que ce soit pour cette culture que les gains de productivité aient été les plus importants. En ce qui concerne les cultures vivrières, il convient de distinguer le cas du maïs. Intégré à l'assolement coton, il a bénéficié à la fois des arrières-effets de la fertilisation (légère hausse du rendement moyen) et de la diffusion de la culture attelée (forte augmentation des surfaces). On peut estimer la production additionnelle de maïs due au projet à environ 8.000 tonnes (+54%) localisée pour l'essentiel en zone cotonnière (est). L'effet du projet sur la production des autres céréales est faible: de l'ordre de +3.000 tonnes pour le sorgho (+10%) et de +2.800 tonnes pour le mil. Le PDRA n'a pas eu d'effet sur les productions de tubercules et racines.

Mis à part le cas de l'arachide (et, dans une moindre mesure, du maïs), les rendements moyens n'ont pas augmenté significativement. Les augmentations de production ont résulté pour l'essentiel de l'augmentation des surfaces.

Effets sur les revenus: une augmentation des revenus monétaires s'est limité aux producteurs de coton et aux producteurs d'arachide groupés en bloc de culture jusqu'en 1988. Dans l'ouest et le nord-ouest de l'Atacora (où est concentrée la majorité de la population), la plupart des paysans interrogés par la mission considéraient que leurs revenus avaient baissé depuis 1988.

Effet sur l'organisation du monde paysan: le projet n'avait pas d'objectif spécifique dans ce domaine. Globalement, on ne constate aucune dynamique d'autopromotion paysanne (même s'il existe quelques exceptions généralement appuyées par des ONG).

L'effet sur les conditions de vie a été très faible car seul 10% du programme d'implantation de points d'eau a été réalisé.

Effets sur l'environnement et sur la base de ressource: Après 1987, le projet a largement réorienté ses thèmes de recherche vers les problèmes de protection et de restauration de la fertilité des sols. Mais, les moyens budgétaires étaient trop faibles à tous les niveaux pour que des résultats significatifs aient pu être obtenus.

Appréciation de la durabilité du projet: à rédiger

Principaux problèmes rencontrés

L'absence d'une composante commercialisation

L'hypothèse initiale sur la facilité de trouver des débouchés à des prix rémunérateurs pour les produits agricoles s'est révélée fausse. L'absence de débouchés commerciaux pour les cultures vivrières n'a pas incité les producteurs à les développer; l'augmentation des surfaces a suivi l'augmentation de la population, l'utisation d'intrants et de la culture attelé est restée faible. En revanche, les paysans ont été très rapides à accroitre leur production, surtout par augmentation de surfaces quand ils avaient l'assurance de pouvoir la vendre. Les investissements en engrais et matériel pour l'arachide et le coton ont été importants tant que les circuits de commercialisation fonctionnaient: doublement des superficies d'arachide jusqu'à l'arrêt de la commercialisation par le CARDER en 1988, multiplication par 4 des superficies en coton jusqu'à la baisse du prix mondial en 1989.

Une vulgarisation peu efficace

Les techniques culturales vulgarisées: remplacement du billonage traditionnel par le labour à plat et semis en ligne ont été très peu adoptées par les agriculteurs. Dans la zone cotonnière, la culture attelée a eu un effet d'extensification et le billonage est resté la règle. L'utilisation de pratiques culturales et d'intrants susceptibles d'améliorer la productivité n'a été obtenue que pour les cultures qui, à un moment donné, offraient une garantie de commercialisation avec possibilité de bénéficier d'un prêt de campagne en nature. Chaque fois que cette possibilité a disparue, l'utilisation de facteurs modernes de production a régressé au niveau avant-projet. Le système de vulgarisation, de type "formation et visite", très lourd et avec une conception "descendante" de messages techniques normatifs n'a pas pris en compte les priorités et possibilités des agriculteurs et la diversité de leur situations. A l'exception de la zone cotonnière, le PDRA n'a pas réussi à déclencher une dynamique de développement agricole autonome, ni à stopper le processus de dégradation des ressources foncières et végétales.

Un système de suivi-évaluation peu performant

Le niveau très bas du recrutement des enquêteurs, un manque de supervision et de contrôle des résultats a conduit a un manque total de fiabilité des données collectées. Ceci a été aggravé par la lourdeur des questionnaires d'enquêtes et les tailles trop importante des échantillon. Les Directions opérationnelles du CARDER n'ont pas cherché à obtenir des informations qui leur soient utiles. Le partage entre suivi du projet et élaboration des statistiques agricoles a été difficile à faire.

Recommandations et leçons à tirer

Plus généralement, une deuxième phase du projet devra appuyer: i) les agriculteurs à s'organiser et à se former pour assumer progressivement ces nouvelles responsabilités; ii) le CARDER à renforcer sa capacité à remplir les fonctions de planification et de suivi du développement agricole; iii) la région Atacora à améliorer ses infrastructures; iv) l'ensemble des acteurs économiques ruraux (CRCAM/CLCAM, commerçants, artisans, transporteurs, groupements villageois, etc.) à renforcer leurs relations et à améliorer la qualité de leurs services.

Le PDRA II devrait s'organiser en sous-unités de projet (une par grande région), chacune étant responsable dans sa sous-région de la planification et du suivi des activités de développement. Cette formule permettrait de mieux coller aux réalités du terrain, mais aussi de donner la responsabilité du développement aux quelques cadres du CARDER qui, en première phase, ont fait la preuve de leur capacité de "développeur".

Une concertation avec les autres bailleurs de fonds préparant actuellement de nouveaux projets dans l'Atacora est indispensable pour le FIDA lors de la préparation de cette deuxième phase du PDRA. Le FIDA devrait logiquement affecter l'essentiel des moyens du PDRA II dans les secteurs ouest et surtout nord-ouest où est concentré son groupe cible prioritaire et où le processus de dégradation des ressources foncières est le plus alarmant.

Les conditions resteront difficiles en deuxième phase: concurrence des céréales importées à bas prix (riz, maïs, blé), baisse tendancielle du prix du coton-graine, de l'arachide. Le PDRA II aura parmi ses objectifs principaux de monter des mécanismes permettant d'améliorer les conditions de mise en marché pour les paysans. Un certain nombre de pistes devront être explorées:

  • l'organisation de la collecte primaire et le stockage, au niveau de groupements de producteurs pour reporter la vente à une période de cours plus élevée, devraient bénéficier d'une promotion active, à travers: i) le financement de fonds de roulement et de capacité de stockage; ii) la formation des comités de gestion des groupements. Cette promotion concernerait les deux céréales, qui enregistrent les plus gros différentiels de prix saisonniers: a) le maïs dans la zone cotonnière en vue d'une commercialisation en dehors de l'Atacora, b) le sorgho et le mil dans le nord-ouest en vue d'une revente sur place en période de soudure;
  • d'autres actions devraient être soutenues par le PDRA II, telles que l'information des paysans sur les marchés des principaux produits agricoles, la prospection commerciale de nouveaux débouchés, la transformation.

La vulgarisation-formation restera une responsabilité du CARDER restructuré, mais ses thèmes et ses modalités doivent être complètement repensés: thèmes visant l'augmentation de la productivité du travail dans la zone cotonnière, la protection des sols dans les régions du nord ouest, l'intégration de l'agriculture élevage et la diversification des production animales; approche moins directive et descendante; méthodes de diffusion plus diversifiées en fonction des cibles et des problèmes posés; formation des intervenants en fonction de leur role dans l'appui au monde paysan et avec des agriculteurs relais des vulgarisateurs.

Le développement de Centres de promotion rurale (CPR) devrait être une composante-clé du PDRAII.

L'appui aux groupements va devenir une tâche essentielle en deuxième phase du projet. Il est urgent de la préparer dès à présent par: i) l'inventaire des structures existantes (nature et volume des activités des groupements, qualifiant le niveau de maîtrise atteint dans la gestion); ii) l'élaboration d'une stratégie détaillée pour la relance de la promotion de groupements paysans qui sera testée de façon pilote avant le démarrage de PDRA II.

Le crédit agricole: La conception du PDRA II devra être propre à renforcer la restructuration des CRCAM/CLCAM. Un effort particulier devra être fait, sous l'impulsion du CARDER et du MDRAC, par tous les organismes ditribuant du crédit dans la ZP (ONG et projets divers), pour harmoniser les approches en matière de taux d'intérêt et de conditions d'attribution du crédit.

Le désengagement du CARDER des fonctions d'approvisionnement et de commercialisation nécessite la prise en charge par des acteurs privés de certains services ou activités productives situés en amont et en aval de la production agricole. Le PDRA II devrait apporter un appui en formation, crédit et organisation aux artisans-forgerons et mécaniciens, aux micro-entreprises de transformation des produits agricoles et aux femmes engagées dans la commercialisation des produits vivriers.

Les enquêtes suivi rapproché, suivi léger et l'enquête de suivi de la vulgarisation doivent être stoppées, et les effectifs de la DSEI allégés en conséquence; ii) les enquêtes prix sur les marchés devront être maintenues et exécutées par des enquêteurs rémunérés à la vacation; iii) une enquête de base doit être réalisée avant le démarrage de la deuxième phase du PDRA ou à son tout début, pour préciser la connaissance des principaux systèmes d'exploitation agricole dans chacune des quatre grandes zones écologiques de l'Atacora.

Au cours du PDRA II, i) le système de S&E devra être conçu en fonction des besoins d'information du projet et permettre son pilotage. Quant à la fonction collecte de statistiques agricoles, si elle doit être prise en charge par le projet, elle devra en être nettement disjointe; ii) les mécanismes et les outils de planification du projet feront partie intégrante du système de S&E; iii) pour toute enquête prévue dans le système de S&E, on les soumettra aux conditions suivantes: a) les limiter à la collecte d'informations essentielles; b) utiliser des questionnaires simples en vue d'une exploitation très rapide; c) assurer une formation préalable spécifique à l'enquête à lancer; d) tester les questionnaires sur le terrain avant de lancer l'enquête et enfin le projet fera appel à des enquêteurs vacataires; et e) il serait souhaitable que le FIDA finance, sur don, un contrat d'expertise garantissant la conception, la mise en place et le rodage d'un système de S&E répondant aux besoins propres du projet.

 

LANGUAGES: English

Projet de développement rural de la région de Siguiri

Guinea  
marzo 1991

Le projet concerne une partie (4 sous préfectures sur 12) de la préfecture de Siguiri en Haute Guinée. Cette région est la moins arrosée du pays (moins de 1.300 mm) mais bénéficie des crues du fleuve Niger.

Les 8 plaines (5.800 ha) et leurs terrasses (1.000 ha) retenues par le projet ont déjà bénéficié d'un premier aménagement en 1947/48 puis d'un aménagement complémentaire en 1952/54 pour le développement de la riziculture. Avant 1984 et le changement de régime politique, les meilleures terres étaient généralement exploitées par des grandes fermes étatiques et/ou collectives qui occupaient près de 4.000 ha de plaines ou terrasses alors que les familles paysannes (près de 6.000) exploitaient près de 20.000 ha, essentiellement sur les plateaux, en cultures pluviales (mais, mil, sorgho) avec pour les grandes familles, un accès aux plaines de quelques villages. Malgré des conditions naturelles très favorables, les rendements étaient médiocres dans toutes les catégories d'exploitations: pour le riz, 400 à 1.000 kg/ha.

Conception et objectifs du projet

Groupe cible

Le projet devait bénéficier à deux catégories d'exploitations:

  • 28 grandes fermes collectives;
  • 6.000 petites exploitations paysannes.

Objectifs et composantes

Les objectifs du projet sont de contribuer à:

  • l'autosuffisance alimentaire de la Guinée,
  • une meilleure satisfaction des besoins alimentaires de la zone et à l'amélioration des revenus et conditions de vie des populations de la zone.

Ces objectifs doivent être atteints grâce à un accroissement de la production de riz dans les plaines inondables.

La principale composante du projet est constituée par l'aménagement de 5.800 ha de plaines et 1.000 ha de terrasses avec la construction et/ou la réhabilitation d'ouvrages de controle des crues: prises, digues et diguettes, canaux, arroseurs et fossés de protection. Les 28 fermes collectives devaient totaliser une superficie de 2.000 ha soit 30% des aménagements. Une parcelle aménagée d'une superficie moyenne de 0,8 ha devait être attribuée à chacune des 6.000 exploitations paysannes. Ces parcelles devaient provenir d'une redistribution des terres des plaines aménagées à l'ensemble des villages environnants.

Les autres composantes sont:

  • la réhabilitation de 70 km de pistes pour désenclaver les plaines;
  • la construction de bureaux, logements et magasins de stockages;
  • l'équipement du projet en engins et matériel d'entretien, unité de conditionnement de semences, moyens de transport;
  • la fourniture d'intrants et d'équipements à travers le crédit agricole et la vulgarisation;
  • un programme sanitaire (5 centres de santé et 50 puits)
  • la formation des cadres et bénéficiaires (alphabétisation, gestion)
  • la mise en place d'une cellule de suivi-évaluation.

Effets attendus et hypothèses

Il était attendu de l'aménagement des plaines et de la fourniture de services aux producteurs une augmentation de rendement de 0,4 t/ha avant projet à 2,2 t/ha pour les variétés améliorées en première récolte et 2 t/ha en deuxième récolte; une production additionnelle de paddy de 14.000 t grâce à l'amélioration des rendements et à l'extension des surfaces cultivées; un surplus de paddy commercialisable de 0,8 à 1,6 t selon les exploitations; l'assurance del'autosuffisance alimentaire des familles; l'amélioration de la situation de l'emploi; la réduction des migrations et l'amélioration des conditions d'hygiène et de santé.

Le projet avait pour hypothèse principale qu'une redistribution égalitaire des terres aménagées permettrait la constitution d'une paysannerie homogène sur le plan socio-économique.

Évaluation

 Evolution du contexte en cours d'exécution

Le changement de régime politique en avril 1984 a provoqué, outre la disparition des exploitations collectives et étatiques, la résurgence du droit coutumier, la reprise des plaines par leurs anciens propriétaires et donc l'abandon du projet de lotissement des plaines. Il a aussi conduit à la liquidation de la BNDA, la disparition des organes administratifs villageois, la réductions des subventions sur les intrants.

Dans ce nouveau contexte, trois mesures ont été prises:

  • l'extension des services du projet (vulgarisation, crédit,etc) aux terres des plaines non aménagées soit un total de 6 000 ha "encadrés";
  • La création d'un bureau de crédit au sein de l'ORS;
  • l'octroi de crédit d'équipement à des groupements paysans.

Réalisations du projet

Ont été aménagées 4.200 ha de plaines. Suite à des études complémentaires, les superficies aménageables avaient été réduites de 6.800 à 4.200 ha. Pour limiter les coûts, les conceptions des aménagements ont systématiquement privilégié la réhabilitation d'ouvrages anciens et n'ont eu recours qu'exceptionnellement à la construction de nouveaux ouvrages. Il en est résulté en général un sous dimensionnement qui affecte l'efficience des ouvrages. Les aménagements ne sont pas entretenus par les usagers.

Des pistes ont été réalisés: 90 km (sur 70 prévus).

Une unité de conditionnement de semences a été installée.

Cinq centres de santé ont été construits; seuls 2 ont fonctionnés (de façon épisodique); le lot de médicament acquis en 1990 n'a pas encore été mis en place.

Le programme des puits n'a pas été réalisé par souci d'économie et du fait qu'un autre projet financé par le FED a réalisé 33 puits dans la zone du projet.

Sur les 22 décortiqueuses prévues pour l'amélioration des conditions de travail des femmes, 13 seulement ont été acquises mais aucune n'a été installée faute de stratégie claire pour leur rétrocession et leur gestion par les bénéficiaires.

La formation des paysans en matière d'alphabétisation et de gestion a été négligée. La mobilisation en groupements est restée faible.

Le nombre d'exploitations "encadrées" a évolué de 1 230 en 1986 à 1 730 en 1988 pour retomber à 1 400 en 1990. La superficie moyenne cultivée par famille a été de l'ordre de 2,2 ha avec des grandes inégalités (0,25 à 100 ha/famille, 20% des exploitations ayant plus de 3 ha). Les superficies cultivées ont été inférieures aux prévisions: en moyenne, 3 200 ha, avec tendance à la baisse depuis 1989.

De 1985 à 1988, le projet a fourni à crédit 288 t de semences améliorées. Puis, le faible taux de recouvrement a conduit l'ORS à vendre au comptant. Les quantités vendues ont chutées à 12 t en 1989. La vente d'engrais a connu la même évolution (110 t à crédit en 1988 puis 15 t/an au comptant).

Appréciations des effets du projet et de leur pérennité

Bénéficiaires: ce sont principalement les grandes familles propriétaires des terres de plaines. La grande majorité des familles pauvres de la zone, n'ayant pas accès aux plaines aménagées, n'a pas bénéficié du projet puisque ce dernier n'avait rien à proposer en matière de développement des cultures pluviales.

En matière de préparation des sols, après une relative intensification en 1988-89 (équivalent de 7 h de traction mécanique par ha cultivé) les paysans semblent revenir à un système plus extensif (équivalent de 4 h de traction). Globalement, après un timide début d'intensification, les riziculteurs de Siguiri sont dans leur grande majorité retournés à leurs pratiques culturales traditionnelles.

Les rendements ont significativement augmenté sans atteindre pour autant les objectifs; passant de 0,4 t/ha avant projet à 1,5 t/ha la meilleure année, mais avec de fortes irrégularités. La moyenne sur les trois dernières campagnes s'élève à 1,2 t/ha.

L'effet du projet sur la production de paddy est très inférieur aux prévision. On peut l'estimer à 3 000 tonnes additionnelles contre 14 000 prévues.

Effets sur les revenus des bénéficiaires: Le revenu brut moyen additionnel par exploitation participante est relativement important (2 t de paddy par famille de bénéficiaires soit 260 dollars/an) du fait de la superficie moyenne des parcelles supérieure aux prévisions (2 ha contre 0,8 prévu), mais très inégalement répartis en fonction des dotations foncières.

Effets sur les revenus et les conditions de vie des femmes: aucune des décortiqueuses prévues pour l'amélioration des conditions de travail des femmes n'a été installée (voir par 15).

D'une façon générale, la dynamique de mise en valeur entrainée par la réhabilitation des aménagements, bien qu'en deça des potentialités et des objectifs du projet a eu un impact positif sur l'économie de la région: amélioration de l'alimentation, de la sécurité alimentaire et des échanges de céréales grâce à la production additionnelle (de l'ordre de 3 000 t par an), sécurisation relative grâce aux aménagements (pertes de récoltes limitées à 10-20% selon les années).

Sur le plan institutionnel, le projet a été une des premières expériences d'encadrement des exploitations familiales dans un pays qui n'a pas de références en la matière depuis son indépendance. En cela, il constitue un acquis par l'expérience, quoique insuffisante de ses cadres en matière de conduite de la riziculture, gestion de l'eau, entretien des ouvrages, crédit, suivi-évaluation, gestion de projet et de développement rural.

Appréciation de la durabilité du projet: l'accroissement de production de paddy ne semble pas durable. Les tendances observées depuis 1989 à la réduction des superficies et au retour à la riziculture extensive risquent de réduire sensiblement ces gains de production en l'absence de deuxième phase du projet.

Principaux problèmes rencontrés

Un changement profond de contexte politique en cours d'exécution

Conçu dans le contexte socio-politique de l'ancien régime, le projet avait pour principale hypothèse une redistribution de terres pour la constitution d'une paysannerie homogène sur le plan socio-économique. Dans ce contexte, le modèle d'encadrement proposé et les différentes hypothèses de mise en valeur étaient parfaitement rationnels. Mais, avec l'instauration du nouveau régime, le droit foncier coutumier a été restauré. Le projet s'est retrouvé en face d'une situation caractérisée par la très inégale répartition des terres (20% des exploitants ont plus de 3 ha). Les exploitants cultivent d'autres terres en dehors des plaines aménagées à "moindre frais" (mais, manioc, fonio etc). Ils considèrent le riz de la plaine comme une activité d'appoint qu'il n'est pas nécessaire d'intensifier. Géré par un jeune organisme, l'ORS disposant d'un personnel sans expérience en matière d'encadrement d'exploitations paysannes, le projet n'a pas su ajuster ses objectifs et sa stratégie à la nouvelle situation. Il s'est "enfermé" dans la conception initiale d'encadrement de la riziculture dans les plaines alors que celle ci s'est avéré ne concerner qu'une minorité de la population de la zone (les familles les plus aisées) et que la riziculture s'inscrivait dans un système de production plus large et diversifié.

Une faible mise en valeur des aménagements

Après un début d'intensification, on assiste à un retour aux pratiques extensives et à une faible utilisation des superficies aménagées. Sur le plan agronomique, la multiplication des adventices commençait à limiter fortement la production. Les seules techniques vulgarisées restaient le déchaumage précoce (peu suivi pour assurer aux animaux 3 à 4 mois de pacage) et la submersion qui suppose une synchronisation en matière de date de semis et de choix de variété. Or, les tentatives d'organisation des usagers en groupements n'a pas eu l'effet escompté. Ceci entrainait des pertes de récoltes et une baisse des superficies cultivées l'année suivante. De plus, l'arrêt des crédits de campagne a réduit les moyens financiers pour la location des tracteurs, l'achat d'intrants etc. L'insuffisance des équipements en traction animale (malgré les demandes, le projet n'a fait aucun crédit moyen terme), la faible disponibilité en main d'oeuvre (les cultures pluviales et l'orpaillage étant prioritaires pour les agriculteurs) ont contribué à la limitation des surfaces en riz. D'autre part, les aménagements n'ont pas fait disparaitre les risques de perte de récolte; le risque d'inondation ou de sécheresse à des stades critiques de la culture n'est pas éliminé. L'efficience des aménagements est très variable d'une plaine à l'autre.

Un coût excessif pour des résultats limités

Le coût de la réhabilitation des aménagements (études comprises) a été de l'ordre de 1 400 dollars par hectare pour une maitrise toute relative de la submersion et un revenu brut de l'ordre de 140 dollars par hectare aménagé. De plus, les obstacles rencontrés par le projet en matière de mise en valeur semblent avoir poussé l'ORS et les bailleurs de fonds à maximiser les achats d'équipements sans analyse rigoureuse des besoins réels, dans un souci d'"améliorer" les décaissements.

Recommandations et leçons à tirer

La mission d'évaluation intermédiaire considère qu'une nouvelle intervention du FIDA dans la région de Siguiri est souhaitable, d'une part pour tenter de valoriser, sur de nouvelles bases techniques et organisationnelles, les investissements réalisés et l'expérience acquise et, d'autre part, pour répondre aux besoins de la majorité des paysans pauvres qui n'ont guère bénéficié des actions de l'ORS. Mais plus qu'une "deuxième phase", c'est véritablement d'un nouveau projet qu'il s'agirait, plus conforme au mandat et à la démarche du FIDA et restituant aux villageois l'initiative et la maîtrise de leur développement.

Une seconde phase devrait être basée sur une analyse beaucoup plus large des systèmes agraires de la région de Siguiri en partant des besoins, des atouts et des contraintes des exploitations paysannes et en évitant de se focaliser uniquement et a priori sur la riziculture de plaine. Le projet, dans sa seconde phase devrait diversifier ses activités (cultures pluviales, élevage, activités maraichères pour les femmes, activités non-agricoles, etc) pour élargir le groupe cible aux populations n'ayant pas bénéficiées de la première phase. De telles interventions se feraient sur la base d'une approche participative dès leur démarrage et en relation avec les services préfectoraux compétents et les ONG opérants dans la zone.

Quatre leçons de portée générale peuvent être tirées de ce projet:

Quelle que soit l'idée de base ayant motivé son initiation et le caractère volontariste de la politique agricole nationale, aucun projet de développement rural ne devrait faire l'économie d'une analyse-diagnostic des systèmes de production du groupe cible et, plus globalement, du système agraire de la zone d'intervention préalablement à sa formulation. Cette exigence est d'autant plus forte que l'idée de p_ojet originelle est plus sectorielle. Cette analyse devrait prendre en compte l'ensemble des activités du groupe cible, y compris les activités non agricoles. Dans le cas de Siguiri, l'orpaillage s'est révélé une activité fortement concurrente de la riziculture.

Aussi sûres que soient les orientations initiales d'un projet, une grande souplesse dans sa mise en oeuvre devrait être garantie et accompagnée d'une amélioration considérable de la qualité et de l'opérationnalité des services de suivi-évaluation et de supervision. Dans le cas du Projet Siguiri, l'absence de réaction à l'abandon de la politique de redistribution foncière (1985) ou à la mauvaise récolte de 1988 est révélateur de la stupéfiante inefficacité de ces services.

Des projets d'aménagement hydro-agricoles de cette importance ne devraient pas être approuvés en l'absence de connaissances suffisantes des caractéristiques hydrologiques et pédologiques de la zone d'intervention. Mais, en cas de réduction importante des superficies aménageables au cours de la mise en oeuvre (40% dans le cas de Siguiri), le FIDA devrait veiller soit à contenir les déboursements proportionnellement aux superficies, soit à reformuler complètement le projet. A Siguiri, des dépenses importantes ont été engagées en équipements et bâtiments restés inutilisés apparemment dans le seul but d'accélérer les décaissements.

En matière de participation et d'organisation paysanne, le projet Siguiri montre une nouvelle fois qu'un grand projet de développement hydro-agricole parachuté dans un milieu paysan sans tradition de gestion collective de l'eau et qui n'a pas été associé à la conception et à la réalisation des aménagements, débouche sur des comportements d'assistés irresponsables sans appropriation des investissements par les usagers. Généralement, les coûts de gestion, d'organisation et de maintenance des systèmes d'irrigation ne sont assumés par les exploitants que lorsque ceux-ci sont à l'initiative d'investissements adaptés à leur capacité, qu'ils en ont compris et accepté collectivement les contraintes d'exploitation préalablement à la mise en valeur et ont bénéficié de la formation nécessaire.

 

LANGUAGES: English, French

Desarrollo Rural Integrado de la Region Pronorte (1990)

Nicaragua  
diciembre 1990

Evaluación pre-terminal

Evaluación

El Proyecto Rural Integrado de la región Pronorte (PRONORTE) se ha desarrollado en un contexto extremamente complejo: guerra, muy alta inflación, escasez crítica de insumos y productos básicos, limitaciones serias de financiamiento. Además, ha sido afectado por sequías y huracanes. Por eso, es notable que PRONORTE se haya ido ejecutando durante estos años y todavía más notable que en algunas dimensiones se hayan alcanzado resultados destacables. Esto se debió en buena medida a la motivación de su personal y a su capacidad de innovar en relación con un proyecto cuyo diseño omitió un aspecto crucial (el problema de la disponibilidad de agua), colocando demasiado énfasis en la producción de granos básicos, y cuya ejecución debió llevarse a cabo en un escenario tan complicado y cambiante.

En los años de ejecución del proyecto se ha logrado cumplir los objetivos de carácter social y de mejoramiento de las condiciones de vida de la población meta. En efecto, han mejorado las condiciones de salud y saneamiento ambiental de la zona a través de los resultados de un conjunto de actividades del proyecto (puestos y centros de salud, instalación de miniacueductos para agua potable, etc.); asimismo se ha más que duplicado el número de beneficiarios de crédito rural lo cual, unido al programa de investigación-capacitación-extensión agropecuaria, ha permitido una expansión del área sembrada con granos básicos tradicionales, así como un incipiente proceso de capitalización a pequeña escala a través del aumento del hato ganadero. Este proceso ha contribuido a diversificar la oferta de alimentos disponibles para la familia campesina.

Sin embargo, los resultados han sido limitados en lo que respecta a la transformación productiva de la región, es decir, desde la perspectiva del desarrollo de actividades económicas que pueden ser ejes de un crecimiento autosostenido para una real transformación en las condiciones de vida del campesinado. La estrategia de desarrollo agropecuario de PRONORTE estaba orientada fundamentalmente a granos básicos, para aumentar los rendimientos y la utilización del suelo (extender la producción a dos cosechas en el año en el caso de los granos tradicionales), mediante un mejoramiento del paquete tecnológico utilizado; sin embargo, no enfrentaba la principal restricción que presenta la zona para un despegue productivo y que lo constituye la disponibilidad de agua. Cabe destacar que PRONORTE corresponde a una primera generación de proyectos FIDA, cuyo énfasis estaba centrado en la producción de alimentos.

En el período de hiperinflación, el componente cuya ejecución resultó más afectada fue el crédito, erosionándose las recuperaciones. En cambio, y a pesar de las dificultades de ejecutar un proyecto en ese contexto, hubo avances significativos en la construcción de caminos y en la experimentación/extensión/capacitación. En este sentido, PRONORTE ofrece lecciones interesantes sobre cómo diseñar y ejecutar proyectos de desarrollo rural en condiciones de hiperinflación.

La Misión de Evaluación Pre-terminal recomienda extender la fecha de cierre del proyecto hasta diciembre de 1990, con el fin de completar el programa de actividades y poder así obtener el valor pleno de las inversiones realizadas con inversiones complementarias. Esto permitiría consolidar los logros del Proyecto. En la etapa final sería particularmente importante apoyar las inversiones en riego a fin de facilitar el crecimiento productivo en una zona donde la falta de disponibilidad de agua es un limitante crítico.

Durante lo que resta del período de ejecución del Proyecto, se recomienda apoyar la labor de supervisión del Banco Centroamericano de Integración Económica (BCIE) con consultorías y asistencia técnica para cuestiones específicas, identificadas de común acuerdo con la Dirección del Proyecto. Para viabilizar este apoyo a la supervisión/asistencia técnica, la Misión recomienda aprovechar los fondos y mecanismos disponibles a través del Proyecto RUTA, tanto por parte de "RUTA regional" como de "RUTA nacional". Una oportunidad para discutir aspectos concretos de esta recomendación será en ocasión del encuentro de SyE organizado por RUTA/FIDA a fines de marzo de 1990 en Costa Rica.

También en relación con el proceso de ejecución/supervisión, se recomienda que una Misión FIDA ad-hoc, compuesta por un alto funcionario de la Unidad de Administración de Préstamos y el Oficial de Proyectos responsable por Nicaragua (que, conjuntamente con la Dirección del Proyecto y el BCIE) formulen una propuesta que agilice el procedimiento de desembolsos.

En cuanto al diseño de futuros proyectos de este tipo, se recomienda prestar más atención a los factores limitantes de transformaciones básicas en la producción y productividad, particularmente la disponibilidad de agua, y las acciones que pueden aumentarla y regularizarla. En un contexto de alta inflación los componentes que apuntan a la transformación de las condiciones de producción y al desarrollo de las capacidades locales pueden ejecutarse considerablemente mejor que un componente de crédito y, por lo tanto, si se prevé un escenario de alta inflación es conveniente minimizar (no necesariamente eliminar) el componente de crédito y privilegiar, en cambio, los componentes que impliquen cambios en la infraestructura productiva y/o los social, así como el desarrollo de las capacidades locales.

LANGUAGES: English, Spanish

Agricultural Credit for Phase III of a Programme (1990)

El Salvador  
diciembre 1990

Antecedentes

La evaluación final del Proyecto de Crédito Agropecuario (Préstamo 163-ES) se llevó a cabo en noviembre - diciembre de 1990, con el propósito de obtener lecciones de la experiencia de la ejecución de dicho proyecto, que sirven de base a recomendaciones dirigidas al nuevo proyecto de desarrollo de la Región Paracentral de El Salvador, aprobado por el Fondo en octubre de 1990.

La situación económica y política de El Salvador se deterioró en forma sensible durante la década de los ochenta, producto tanto de serios problemas internos como de la aguda recesión económica en la región centroamericana y la caída en los precios mundiales del café y algodón, sus principales fuentes de divisas. La migración forzada por el conflicto político obligó a cerca de un millón de salvadoreños de zonas rurales a reubicarse dentro de su propio país y a otro millón o millón y medio adicionales a migrar a otros países, principalmente a Estados Unidos y a Centroamérica. El producto nacional bruto disminuyó en términos reales desde 1980 a 1983 y luego creció muy lentamente, de manera que aún en 1989 no alcanzó el nivel de 1980.

El sector agropecuario fue de los más afectados por concentrarse el conflicto en zonas rurales y por la caída de los precios de exportación.

Especialmente fue afectada la producción exportable, cuyo volumen de producción cayó más de 50% durante la década, mientras que la producción para consumo interno no creció en dicho período, requiriendo importaciones crecientes de alimentos.

El sector agropecuario fue sujeto a inicios de los años ochenta a varios cambios muy importantes, producto de políticas nacionales que buscaban modificar la estructura socioeconómica del país. Entre las principales de estas estuvo la reforma agraria, que aunque no se completó en la forma prevista si llevó a la redistribución de un 25% de la tierra agrícola. En las haciendas mayores expropiadas se establecieron grandes cooperativas de producción. En las tierras que ocupaban bajo forma de arriendo o de medianería los productores muy pequeños (micro-productores), sus pequeñas parcelas se les vendieron a precios muy bajos. Otros cambios importantes incluyeron la reforma de la banca privada y la estatización del comercio de los productos agrícolas de exportación.

Fue en este marco dentro del cual se insertó a partir de 1985 el Proyecto de Crédito Agrícola, financiado parcialmente por el préstamo 163-ES de FIDA. Dicho proyecto forma parte de la III Etapa del Programa Global de Crédito Agropecuario (PGCA), un programa cuyo inicio se dio en 1976 y que era financiado conjuntamente por el Gobierno de El Salvador (GOES) y el Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo (BID).

Objetivos, supuestos básicos y metas del proyecto

El propósito fundamental del PGCA fue el de reactivar la producción agrícola por medio de crédito del Banco de Fomento Agropecuario (BFA) a los productores micro, pequeños y medianos. Estos eran tanto agricultores de los llamados "tradicionales" (es decir, previos a la reforma agraria), como de los denominados beneficiarios del Decreto 207 de la reforma agraria (micro-productores). El PGCA proponía

desarrollarse como un programa de crédito supervisado, con importante apoyo de instituciones como CENTA, FINATA y CDG, para suministrar asistencia técnica a los agricultores. Otros servicios como mercadeo se manejarían por medio de los canales públicos y privados existentes.

El objetivo del programa fue el de proveer crédito para financiar cambios en la producción de productos exportables y de consumo interno, que llevarían a un incremento significativo en la producción de esos bienes y, a la vez, esto aumentar a entre 25% y 518 los ingresos netos de los productores, según el cultivo principal de estos.

El incremento en producción se obtendría en forma exclusiva por aumentos en rendimientos de entre 30% y 180%. El incremento en productividad física previsto se consideró que era factible de alcanzar con la tecnología disponible y con los servicios de extensión existentes.

La meta del PGCA en general fue de suministrar crédito a un máximo de 28 400 productores durante un período de cuatro años. Para el caso de la parte del programa que era financiado por FIDA, las metas eran llegar a unos 20 000 micro-productores, que implicaba el otorgamiento de unas 61 655 operaciones de crédito, incluyendo créditos repetitivos anuales en los cuatro años. De un costo total de EU$ 54 millones, estaban destinados al grupo de micro-productores unos EU$ 7.6 millones. Para el financiamiento de esta parte del programa, el FIDA aportaría el equivalente de EU$ 5 millones (66%), siendo suministrado el resto por BFA y BID. Debe advertirse que en la presentación del proyecto y en los propios contratos de préstamo, existió ambigüedad en la distribución de fondos y de fuentes de financiamiento. Sin embargo, es claro en el Informe del Presidente a la Junta Ejecutiva del FIDA, que el grupo objeto del financiamiento eran 20 000 micro-productores.

La institución ejecutora fue el BFA y el proyecto cubrió todo el país. En el diseño se consideró que el BFA tenía la capacidad para atender al número de 28 700 participantes, dado que a nivel nacional ya manejaba anualmente unos 90 000 usuarios de crédito. Participó como cofinanciador e institución cooperante el BID, siendo delegado en este banco la supervisión del proyecto. La obligación de establecer un sistema de seguimiento y evaluación fue incluida entre las cláusulas del contrato de préstamo con FIDA.

Principales resultados del proyecto

Los resultados del proyecto en su conjunto no llenaron las expectativas, ni en términos de las metas cuantitativas ni tampoco en términos de las mejoras en los ingresos y calidad de vida de los beneficiarios de los créditos. Con recursos de FIDA se otorgaron en los seis años (en lugar de cuatro años programados), unos 16 600 créditos. Esto representó poco menos del 30% de la meta originalmente planteada por FIDA, de 61 655 subpréstamos incluyendo préstamos repetidos.

En relación con el uso que se hizo de los créditos, en un 90% se destinaron según las solicitudes de crédito a cubrir costos de producción de granos como estaba previsto. Sin embargo, sólo el 76% se canalizó a los micro-productores, debido a que 19% de los créditos se extendieron a otros pequeños productores y un 5% adicional a medianos productores.

Los subpréstamos con recursos FIDA, se desembolsaron siguiendo una tendencia inusual según los datos suministrados por el BFA. Los recursos nuevos desembolsados se concentraron en dos años (1985 y 1987) con montos muy reducidos en 1986 y de 1988 a 1990, en lugar de seguir una curva creciente como se propuso por el informe de evaluación ex-ante. Los fondos recuperados y vueltos a colocar como parte del Fondo Rotatorio, se concentraron en un sólo año (1987) quedando saldos disponibles aparentemente no usados para crédito en 1986, 1988, 1989 y 1990. Este comportamiento de las colocaciones por año obedeció a decisiones en la sede del BFA sobre el uso de recursos según la disponibilidad de fuentes (USAID, BID, FIDA) en un momento dado y no a un uso planificado de fondos para ponerlos a disposición de un determinado grupo de sus clientes durante la duración del proyecto.

El poco uso que se dió al Fondo Rotatorio para hacer nuevos préstamos a los beneficiarios fue contrario a las disposiciones del Acuerdo de Préstamo. Los recursos del fondo se vieron negativamente afectados por las pérdidas por créditos morosos.

Los resultados que obtuvieron los productores en cuanto a aumentar sus rendimientos por área y sus ingresos, se conocen en forma parcial. La meta de incrementar sustancialmente los rendimientos, se logró parcialmente si se comparan los rendimientos obtenidos por los usuarios de crédito con los que obtuvieron el resto de los micro y pequeños productores. Así en el caso del maíz que fue por mucho el principal cultivo financiado, se alcanzaron niveles de 2.2 a 2.7 toneladas por hectárea, superiores al promedio de 1.9 a 2.0 t/ha del resto de pequeños agricultores. Sin embargo, los resultados fueron muy inferiores a las 3.5 toneladas por hectárea que se consideró como la meta a nivel del diseño. En cuanto a los cambios de ingreso obtenidos, no se cuenta con información comparable de la situación antes y después del proyecto. Sin embargo, una encuesta entre los usuarios de recursos FIDA indicó que el 58% de estos reportaron que su situación había mejorado después de recibir el crédito, un 39% seguía igual que antes y sólo un 3% reportó que empeoró su situación.

El reducido número de beneficiarios alcanzado estuvo directamente relacionado con problemas administrativos del BFA, que al no mantener una cuenta específica para los recursos del FIDA permitió que los recursos de recuperación de los subpréstamos (constituidas en un fondo rotatorio, pero operado sólo para efectos contables), se destinaron aparentemente para financiar otros créditos y actividades del Banco. Posiblemente una parte de los recursos fueron usados para los propósitos acordados según el contrato de préstamo, pero el propio BFA no pudo dar una respuesta sobre su uso real, cuando fue requerida por la misión de evaluación.

Los resultados a nivel de los agricultores que participaron en el proyecto, en cuanto a lograr mayores aumentos de rendimientos, fueron afectados tanto por la falta de precios que estimularon su interés en mejorar las técnicas que utilizaban, como por falta de mejores tecnologías de producción, así como por la falta de apoyo de las instituciones públicas que debieron participar en la ejecución de las actividades de asistencia técnica. Según la información disponible, muy pocos agricultores cambiaron su forma de producción tradicional por otra que les permitiera aumentar sustancialmente los rendimientos. Se observó por otra parte, que algunos de los beneficiarios de crédito, emplearon este para financiar otras actividades económicas (especialmente no-agrícolas) y otros gastos de la familia (vivienda en particular) que satisfacían sus necesidades más apremiantes.

Conclusiones

Sobre el diseño: Para que los proyectos tengan un efecto positivo mayor sobre el grupo objetivo, el FIDA debe participar desde el inicio en su diseño. Al ser una tercera etapa de un programa de crédito global, el diseño del proyecto bajo análisis se basó en la experiencia con las etapas anteriores, dirigidas a agricultores de mayores recursos. Para incorporar a los micro-productores, no se hizo mayor esfuerzo para definir sus necesidades y cómo el proyecto de crédito podría ayudarles. La caracterización insuficiente del grupo objetivo fue entonces un punto débil del diseño.

La propuesta de concentrar el crédito en granos básicos, si bien respondía al tipo de productos que los micro-productores estaban cultivando, por otra parte significaba atar el crédito a cultivos que tenían una baja rentabilidad. Si se considera, además, que los supuestos en relación con el aumento posible en rendimientos probaron ser demasiado optimistas, se puede concluir que los aspectos técnicos del proyecto no fueron adecuadamente evaluados.

El contexto político y las políticas económicas e institucionales: La violencia generada por el conflicto interno fue un factor que afectó en algún grado el normal desarrollo del proyecto, pero no fue un factor determinante. Por otra parte, las políticas macroeconómicas tampoco tuvieron una influencia muy marcada, debido a que estas tuvieron mayor impacto en el sector externo y la mayor a de los productos que fueron financiados por el proyecto eran de consumo interno. La política de precios bajos para los granos básicos, por otra parte, perjudicó al Proyecto, pues los micro-productores beneficiarios son fundamentalmente cultivadores de maíz, frijol y sorgo. De las otras políticas, las de reorganización de los servicios estatales, en especial de la extensión e investigación agrícola, si afectaron negativamente al proyecto pues los frecuentes cambios organizativos impidieron que estos servicios llegaran al productor.

Sobre la administración del proyecto: A pesar de que el BFA tenía experiencia previa en manejo de programas de crédito con aportes externos, en el caso del proyecto con FIDA la administración del proyecto fue inadecuada. Las características del grupo meta de los recursos de FIDA no fue aclarada por el BFA, limitándose en el reglamento de crédito a utilizar su definición de micro-productor, pero sin incluir los criterios de elegibilidad que había considerado el FIDA. Durante la ejecución, el procedimiento utilizado por BFA para distribuir cada operación de crédito entre varias fuentes llevó a que se perdiera la posibilidad de identificar cada cliente con una fuente, siendo entonces difícil definir con certeza los beneficiarios del proyecto. Razones similares hicieron que las solicitudes de desembolsos al FIDA no siguieran la programación original, sino más bien, respondían a las disponibilidades o necesidades de fondos del conjunto de diversas fuentes que manejaba BFA. La falta de un manejo separado de los recursos del FIDA llevó a que el fondo rotatorio fuera usado en forma inapropiada. La falta de un sistema de información eficiente durante la mayor parte del período de ejecución, dificultó la gestión y contribuyó a que el Banco evitara hacer la programación del uso de recursos. También contribuyó esto a que el seguimiento y evaluación del proyecto fuera superficial, sin impacto en la toma de decisiones. Debe reconocerse que en los últimos tres años el sistema de información si ha comenzado a producir resultados útiles, aunque requiere todavía de ajustes.

La falta de un sistema de información gerencia (516) que funcionaria adecuadamente durante la mayor parte del período de ejecución, contribuyó a dificultar la gestión del proyecto e impidió que el BFA llevará a cabo una planificación sistemática del uso de los créditos.

Los problemas con el sistema de información fueron también una causa importante de porqué las funciones de S&E se llevaron a cabo en forma superficial, sin impacto en la toma de decisiones del BFA.

Es necesario reconocer, sin embargo, que en las últimas tres años, se lograron avances significativos en el SIG, que con algunos ajustes puede llegar a ser un apoyo valioso para la ejecución de nuevos proyectos.

Sobre la supervisión: El proyecto de FIDA funcionó a la sombra de los aportes mucho más grandes del BID que representaban el 75% del total. El deterioro de la situación financiera del BFA distrajo la atención de la institución cooperante, en detrimento de un seguimiento más detallado de lo que estaba ocurriendo con los recursos de FIDA. La información recibida en FIDA, suministrada por el BID, respecto al estado del proyecto fue insuficiente. Las medidas solicitadas por BID para mejorar la administración del proyecto no fueron en general implementadas por el BFA. El Fondo a su vez, a pesar de las visitas de supervisión, no captó el grado de incumplimiento en que estaba cayendo BFA, que hubiera llevado a considerar una suspensión de desembolsos y eventualmente a suspender estas o aún a cancelar el préstamo.

Recomendaciones para el Proyecto de la Región Paracentral

En octubre 1990, el Fondo aprobó el Proyecto de Desarrollo Agrícola para Pequeños Productores de la Región Paracentral (Préstamo 267-ES). La misión de evaluación final considera necesario que para la ejecución del nuevo proyecto se realicen algunos cambios en los procedimientos actuales del BFA, tanto en cuanto a su política operativa y al reglamento de crédito como en cuanto al tipo y frecuencia de reportes generado por el sistema de información del Banco.

La administración del BFA ha tenido importantes cambios desde 1979, lo que representa un aspecto positivo para el desarrollo del nuevo proyecto. Sin embargo es necesario introducir modificaciones en la política operativa, para la cual se propone que las tres agencias participantes (San Vicente, Sesuntepeque e Ilobasco) sean consideradas como agencias piloto, para implementar en forma experimental lo siguiente:

a) un programa de movilización del ahorro en sus respectivas jurisdicciones y que los recursos captados por estas, les sean permitidos reciclarlos a sus clientes para establecer un sistema de crédito integrado que vincule depositantes y prestatarios. Los déficits de recursos para crédito los suministraría como en la actualidad, la sede central del BFA.

b) Una mayor descentralización del funcionamiento del Banco, permitiendo a cada agencia establecer balances así como cuentas de resultados propios. Dichos informes permitirían a cada Jefe de Agencia, realizar una verdadera gestión de sus operaciones y conocer además el costo de sus operaciones.

c) Utilizar a nivel de Agencia para los recursos del nuevo proyecto, al beneficiario como el elemento base y no las operaciones de préstamo con cada línea de crédito como ha ocurrido hasta ahora. De esta manera, se consolidarían las diversas operaciones de cada sujeto, permitiendo así conocer con exactitud el número de beneficiarios y las características de sus créditos y débitos.

En relación al reglamento de crédito, se recomienda con base en la experiencia del préstamo 163-ES, que se considere la posibilidad de utilizar como criterio de elegibilidad de los prestarios, el activo neto del prestatario y no el ingreso neto. El uso del activo neto facilitaría el trabajo del Banco, que ya de todas maneras aplica este criterio en sus solicitudes de préstamo, y además permite obtener información más fidedigna sobre la situación económica del beneficiario.

Finalmente, con respecto al sistema de información, es necesario hacer modificaciones importantes al sistema de información gerencial (SIG) en cuanto al tipo de reportes que genera. La información que se necesita para la gestión efectiva del componente de crédito ya se recolecta en su gran mayoría, requiriéndose sólo incorporar pocas variables. Sin embargo, es necesario hacer un cambio importante en el SIG para que sea verdaderamente útil para el nuevo proyecto en cuanto a:

(a) generar información de los créditos con base en reportes que contengan los datos básicos y los presente en forma que facilite su comprensión y uso. Para tal propósito, este informe presenta una serie de cuadros que cumplen dicho propósito (Anexo 5);

(b) generar la información a nivel de las tres agencias participantes, agregándole éstas luego para su envío a la Unidad Ejecutora del Proyecto, a la sede del BFA y a la institución cooperante. Esto fortalecería el desarrollo de las agencias, dentro del espíritu de alcanzar una mayor descentralización de actividades como lo ha manifestado el propio BFA.

(c) Producir los reportes en forma periódica de acuerdo con los requerimientos de las agencias para efectos del seguimiento del proyecto pudiendo estos ser en algunos casos semanales y en otros mensuales. El resumen de los informes de las tres agencias para efectos de supervisión del avance, podría ser trimestral.

Por la experiencia obtenida en cuanto a la evaluación de resultados con el proyecto 163-ES, se recomienda que el diseño de la metodología de evaluación y su eventual puesta en práctica, sea encomendada a la unidad especializada en este tipo de actividades adscrita a la Oficina Sectorial de Planificaciones Agropecuarios (OSPA), la cual contará con asesoría ya acordada para tal propósito de la Unidad Regional de Asistencia Técnica (RUTA), proyecto conjunto de PNUD, BIRF y FIDA.

 

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