Projet de Développement Rural de l'ORD de l'Est
Résumé du rapport d'évaluation à mi-parcours
La zone du projet comprend un peu plus de la moitié du territoire de l'ORD de l'Est (provinces du Gourma, de la Gnagna et de la Tapoa). C'est une zone très vaste (27.000 km2) dont l'accès était difficile avant le projet. De nombreuses régions étaient totalement enclavées pendant la saison des pluies. L'agriculture y est principalement vivrière (sorgho et mil). L'élevage, qui joue un role essentiel dans l'économie de la zone, exploite par transhumance la complémentarité du Nord et du Sud. Cette région a connu, avant le démarrage du projet des périodes de forte pénurie alimentaire. La zone se caractérisait aussi par une faiblesse des services d'encadrement du développement rural.
Conception et objectifs du projet
Le groupe cible est constitué des ménages paysans de la zone sans autre spécification. On prévoyait 8.000 familles bénéficiaires du projet. Les femmes ne font pas l'objet d'une attention particulière dans la conception du projet malgré le rôle important qu'elles jouent dans la production des cultures de rente et dans la commercialisation.
Objectifs et composantes
L'objectif du projet est d'assurer l'autosuffisance alimentaire des habitants de la zone, d'augmenter les revenus agricoles et d'améliorer la qualité de la vie.
Les objectifs spécifiques sont d'augmenter la production vivrière, de créer et faire fonctionner les infrastructures collectives de santé (dispensaires, maternités, puits), de services (moulins, banques de céréales, artisanat) et de désenclaver la zone.
Les principales composantes du projet sont:
- le renforcement de l'ORD par la formation du personnel d'encadrement, la construction de logements et bureaux, l'équipement en véhicules, le soutien d'une assistance technique extérieure substantielle;
- la mise à disposition de crédit de campagne (engrais, semences) pour 8.000 exploitations et de crédit moyen terme pour équiper 2.700 exploitations en culture attelée;
- des aménagements fonciers portant sur la lutte contre l'érosion sur 5.000 ha (construction de diguettes en courbes de niveau) et l'aménagement de 1.000 ha de bas fonds pour la riziculture;
- la construction de 108 km de routes de desserte et la création de 100 km de pistes d'accès aux routes de desserte;
- la création d'un centre d'appui à la production agricole (Fermes semencières et Centre de recherche appliquée et de formation);
- la protection sanitaire des animaux de trait: création d'un centre vétérinaire de 5 postes vétérinaires et de 10 centres de vaccination;
- un Fonds de Développement Villageois (FDV) permettant de subventionner l'achat de matériaux de construction pour des équipements collectifs tels que maternités, dispensaires, puits, magasins pour stockage de céréales et de financer sur crédits des entreprises collectives ou individuelles génératrices de revenu;
- la création d'une unité de suivi évaluation chargée de suivre l'ensemble des activités du projet et d'en évaluer les résultats.
L'effet attendu du projet était l'autosuffisance de l'ORD sur le plan des céréales. Quelques 8.000 familles paysannes soit 18% des familles vivant dans la zone devaient voir leur revenu augmenter de 450 à 650 USD/an. Le programme de formation et l'édification d'institutions dans le cadre du projet devaient améliorer les capacités locales et faciliter la planification et la mise en oeuvre des programmes de développement futurs.
Le rapport de pré-évaluation considérait que les contraintes principales à l'adoption de pratiques culturales améliorées étaient le manque de services de vulgarisation permettant le transfert de "paquets techniques" aux paysans et le manque de crédit agricole. Un léger surplus de production (8.000t) devait être dégagé dans la zone du projet et devait être écoulé sans difficultés par l'OFNACER ou par les banques de céréales.
Les campagnes 85/86 et 86/87 ont connu des conditions climatiques exceptionnellement favorables. L'excédent de production dans la zone de l'ORD a été très important.
Les orientations du gouvernement ont conduit à une politique de vérité des prix (le prix de l'engrais est passé de 90 FCFA/kg en 84 à 135 FCFA/kg en 86); un amenuisement des responsabilités du ministère de tutelle des ORD (le Ministère de lagriculture et de l'élevage ne conserve que les prérogatives relatives à la vulgarisation et à la production agricole proprement dite); des priorités du plan quinquennal 1986/87 accordées à l'aménagement intégré des terroirs.
Formation et vulgarisation: un système de type "formation et visite" a permis d'encadrer 121 GP (soit 1.410 producteurs) en 1984-85, 280 en 1985-86 (5.866 producteurs) et 373 GV en 1986-87 (12.297 producteurs). Les thèmes vulgarisés concernent le labour avant semis (avec ou sans culture attelée), le semis en ligne, la fumure minérale, le sarclage, le buttage. L'apprentissage des techniques culturales est fait sur parcelles de démonstration puis sur champ collectif. Le projet a mis en place des centres de dressage temporaires (15 jours) des boeufs de trait.
Renforcement de l'ORD de l'Est: 60% des constructions prévues ont été réalisées, des véhicules et du personnel compétent sont disponibles.
Appui à la production: installation de deux stations d'essai qui ont permis des essais de techniques culturales et de variétés sur des protocoles fournis et suivis par des organismes de recherche nationaux et de la multiplication de semences (production de 12.000 kg).
Des bas fonds ont été aménagés sur 36 ha puis détruits par la première crue. Ce volet a du être mis en veilleuse car il nécessite des études préliminaires difficiles.
Des aménagements anti-érosifs ont été réalisés sur 2.073 ha (40% des objectifs).
Le FDV a utilisé 14 % des fonds prévus pour les équipements collectifs et 1% des fonds prévus pour les entreprises villageoises. 1 maternité, 10 puits villageois, 14 magasins de céréales ont été réalisés. Les banques de céréales ne fonctionnent pas et commencent à être convertie en magasins pour aliments du bétail. 2 moulins à grain communautaire ont été créés.
Le crédit agricole ne connait qu'un petit nombre d'emprunteurs (730 en 4 ans) et les encours sont très en dessous des prévisions: 21 millions de FCFA soit 5% du volume prévu pour le crédit court terme et 41 millions de FCFA soit moins de 15 % du volume prévu pour le crédit moyen terme.
Des routes ont été construites sur 98 km et 138 autres km mis en chantier.
L'unité de suivi évaluation n'a été installée que tardivement et n'a pas jusqu'à présent bénéficié d'appui technique extérieur.
Bénéficiaires: les bénéficiaires du système de vulgarisation et formation ont été 1 410 producteurs en 1984-85, 5 866 en 1985-86 et 12.297 en 1986-87.
Les effets du projet sont difficiles à apprécier. 1985 et 1986 ont été deux excellentes années pendant lesquelles l'ensemble de la zone a dégagé un fort excédent de production. On ne peut cependant préciser dans quelles mesure le projet a pu contribuer à ce résultat. L'effet du projet en année sèche semble limité. Les effets sur le developpement communautaire sont quasi inexistants (la création d'entreprises artisanales est restée embryonnaire, les banques de céréales n'ont pas bien fonctionné). Les effets des infrastructures routières sur le désenclavement sont très limités du fait des coupures fréquentes des principales pistes créées.
Effets sur les revenus des bénéficiaires: ils restent pour le moment négligeables.
Quant à l'impact sur l'amélioration de la qualité de la vie, les infrastructures collectives destinées à y contribuer ne sont pas encore opérationnelles.
Un faible taux d'adoption des techniques préconisées. Le dispositif de vulgarisation, par son quadrillage de la zone, a touché un grand nombre d'exploitations (12 000 en 86-87). Mais, seule une très faible proportion des paysans (2 à 3%) a généralisé l'emploi des thèmes techniques préconisés. En particulier, l'emploi des engrais reste marginal pour des raisons d'ordre économique: prix relativement élevé et rentabilité aléatoire dans les conditions technico-économiques actuelles. L'adoption de la culture attelée se développe plus lentement que prévu. Ceci semble provenir du manque de matériel de démonstration dans les unités d'encadrement et de la non disponibilité des charrues au moment opportun pour la vente. Un peu plus de 700 exploitations seulement ont été équipées en culture attelée.
Un système de crédit peu développé. Les encours sont très en dessous des prévisions. Plusieurs raisons peuvent expliquer ce faible développement: la faiblesse du revenu monétaire des paysans (pas de débouché pour les cultures de rente, sauf l'arachide dont le prix a fortement chuté en 1986); les insuffisances de la filière d'approvisionnement (en particulier charrues); le manque de dynamisme et de suivi du service de crédit fourni par le relais de l'ORD. En particulier, les éléments d'appréciation fournis par l'encadrement du projet sur la capacité de remboursement des emprunteurs sont inadaptés. D'autre part, la CNCA non décentralisée ne peut jouer correctement son role. Enfin, la ligne de crédit court terme FIDA n'a pas encore fait l'objet de retrocession de l'Etat à la CNCA.
Le taux d'impayé est de 41%. Des secteurs entiers ont été exclus par la CNCA pour impayés. Il est à craindre que les conditions dans lesquelles se fait l'apprentissage du crédit ne constitue à l'avenir un handicap pour l'utilisation du crédit agricole comme moyen d'améliorer les revenus paysans.
Une mauvaise commercialisation des produits agricoles. Toute la dynamique du projet est freinée par l'absence de débouchés pour les produits végétaux. Dans une conjoncture d'excédents céréaliers, le circuit officiel de commercialisation ne peut absorber le sorgho et le mil. On se trouve avec un marché inorganisé dans lequel les prix s'effondrent. En l'absence d'atelier d'egrennage, le coton doit supporter un coût de transport très élevé jusqu'à Ouagadougou. Le développement de la riziculture nécessite un désenclavement de la zone et l'installation de capacités de décorticage. Le prix de l'arachide a connu une sevère baisse (-43% en 1986).
Un schéma de financement des stocks ORD (équipements et intrants) adapté au calendrier des utilisateurs doit être mis en place. La ligne de crédit court terme FIDA doit être rétrocédée dans les meilleurs délais. Un fonds de garantie doit être constitué à partir de la ligne crédit FIDA ainsi qu'un fonds de bonification des intérêts. La répartition des taches entre ORD et CNCA doit être formalisée. Un moratoire pour les crédits passés impayés doit être ouvert. Si la commercialisation des produits agricoles (en particulier céréales) n'est pas améliorée, l'allocation de crédit devrait être beaucoup plus prudente et se limiter à des agriculteurs ayant également une activité d'élevage.
La construction/réhabilitation du tronçon de route entre Gayeri et Fada doit être effectuée.
La durée du projet devrait être prolongée sur les deux prochaines campagnes agricoles c'est à dire jusque fin 1989 et la zone du projet redessinée pour tenir compte du transfert de l'intervention de la CCCE sur la province de la Tapoa et de la complémentarité Nord-Sud des activités d'élevage.
L'aménagement de bas fonds doit être réduit à une action pilote car il demande des études techniques préalables. L'intégration agriculture-élevage doit être amplifiée par la création de points d'eau (retenues pour l'abreuvement des animaux) en vue d'organiser l'exploitation des parcours. Les interventions du projet doivent être concentrées sur une sélection de villages.
Trois leçons de porté générale peuvent être tirées de ce projet:
Le développement du crédit agricole nécessite que les exploitants disposent d'un minimun de revenu monétaire stable. Dans les régions dépourvues de culture de rente, l'introduction massive de crédit pour l'adoption de thèmes techniques en culture vivrière doit être examinée avec beaucoup de prudence.
En région soudano-sahélienne marquée par une forte variation interannuelle des rendements et des production, une plus grande attention devrait être accordée, au stade de la conception, au comportement du marché vivrier en année de bonne récolte et aux conditions d'écoulement des surplus. Une succession de quelques années de pénurie et de prix élevés des vivriers, ne devrait pas dispenser les concepteurs de projet d'analyser serieusement les capacités d'absorption des marchés et de prévoir des instruments de commercialisation adaptés à tous les cas de figure. Cette plus grande attention aux conditions de commercialisation est impérative lorsque l'on compte recourir au crédit d'équipement ou de campagne pour augmenter la production.
Lorsque les rapports de prix entre intrants et produits sont largement modifié au cours des premières années de mise en oeuvre du projet, la validité économique des thèmes techniques vulgarisés doit être rapidement re-examinée par l'institution coopérante et le bailleurs de fonds. Si cette révision conclue à la non rentabilité de ces paquets techniques sous les nouvelles conditions du marché, les crédits pour ces paquets techniques doivent être suspendus. L'allocation de crédits à des activités non rentables et l'accumulation d'impayés qui s'en suit, ont des conséquences extremement négative sur le développement de la région.
East Mpanda Rural Development Project
Burundi, a small, landlocked country in East Africa, had an estimated population of 3.8 million in 1976, with a growth rate of 2.2%. It is one of the most densely populated countries in Africa and one of the poorest countries in the World. About 95 % of the population live in the rural areas and rely on subsistence farming for their livelihoods; coffee is also grown and is the mainstay of foreign exchange earnings. Because of its diverse climate and ecology, Burundi's agricultural potential is very varied, ranging from tropical crops in the Imbo region (rice, cotton, sugar cane, groundnuts) to temperate fruit, vegetables and cereals in the higher areas. Despite these advantages, over-crowding has progressively reduced fallow periods and led to declining yields. Forest areas are also under pressure to satisfy the demand for domestic fuel, and increasing numbers of cattle are leading to over-grazing. The project area, the Ruzizi Valley, lies just 15 Km north of the capital, Bujumbura. and is a flat valley with deep alluvial soils deposited from the rivers which cross it and which subject it to periodical flooding. The climate is tropical and rainfall is around 857 mm per year. The land tenure system is quite mixed: in the cotton and rice areas the land belongs to the State and is allocated to farmers for specified purposes, outside these "development areas" the land belongs to the farmers and may be sold at will. In the project area there are approximately 3000 ha of "development areas"; these consist of farms of about 1.9 ha growing rice, groundnuts, maize, sweet potatoes, bananas, beans and a variety of other food crops - there are also a large number of fruit trees. In general the farmers in these areas use low intensity farming methods and rarely use fertilisers.
Project design and objectives
In general the agricultural sector has suffered from inadequate allocations (from the government) in terms of both production inputs and also services, and output prices have been kept low, reducing incentives for farmers. The main problems faced by the government in the late 1970s were under-nourishment and food scarcity at certain times of the year, and overcrowding in the densely populated hill areas. The movement of settlers into the Ruzizi valley occurred in the 1970s, due to developments in rice and cotton cultivation; the project intended to develop a part of the under-populated area in the valley for new settlement and increase production from other areas.
The population of the project area was about 14,000 people in 1977, and family sizes were about 4.5. Average farm sizes were 1.3 ha for food crops and fallow land and 0.8 ha for coffee in the coffee growing regions. The target group was defined as the whole farming population, which consisted of:
- farmers with 0.5 ha each, in the newly developed irrigated rice schemes, (1,091 total farmers in 1986; this number will increase to about 2,800 as the development and rehabilitation of irrigation schemes progresses);
- farmers with 4.0 ha each, organized in cotton production schemes (1,290 in 1986, "paysannats coton")
- independent smallholders (exploitants hors paysannat), including 2,723 farmers with 0.1-2.5 ha holdings in the Bujumbura Rice Scheme (most of whom will eventually become part of the first group) and 1,107 dryland farmers on scattered 1- 4 ha holdings.
Objectives and components
Project objectives were (i) to increase and diversify food crop production to meet subsistence needs, (ii) to improve the socio-economic conditions and the standard of living in the area, through water supply, electrification, and the construction of schools, health centres, and village depots; and (iii) to increase the cash income of target groups through the marketing of surpluses. Project interventions to meet these objectives, which were adjusted in 1983 on the basis of findings from socio-economic studies carried-out by the project, included:
- an agricultural extension programme to reach 4,980 smallholders cultivating irrigated rice (3, 420 ha), cotton and other rainfed crops (1,560 ha), providing support services such as supply of farm inputs, draught animals, agricultural credit, and marketing;
- infrastructure works for new and rehabilitated irrigation schemes, comprising training of rivers, drainage networks, primary canals, secondary and tertiary canal networks, and land leveling;
- improvement of socio-economic conditions by the construction of 5 schools and 3 health centres, the rehabilitation and improvement of 132 km of secondary roads, the provision of drinking water supplies, and housing improvement for 2 000 nearby settled families;
- assistance to the Project Management through the construction of offices, staff housing, electrification, and the construction of an administrative centre.
Total base project costs were estimated in 1979 at USD 29.0 mn, to which contingencies of USD 13.5 mn were added; this comprised the following components:
(i) Civil works USD 5.15 mn (17.8%) (ii) Resettlement USD 3.1 mn (10.5%) (iii) Social Infrastructure USD 5.4 mn (18.4%) (iv) Cooperative and Community Devel. USD 0.05 mn (0.2%) (v) Project Management USD 9.6 mn (33%) (vi) Credit and Input Supply USD 2.8 mn (10%) (vii) M & E USD 0.8 mn (3%) (viii) Studies, supervision USD 2.1 mn (7.1%)
Project management, the largest single component, was concerned with the strengthening of the implementing agency, the Societe Regionale de Developpement de l'Imbo (SRDI), and included the development of an extension service, community development including cooperative groups, the distribution of farm inputs, establishment of an ox training centre, and training for extension and cooperative workers. To undertake these tasks SRDI received considerable expatriate TA, which not only supplied sustained support and training, but also undertook the various consultancy aspects of the project. Under social infrastructure, the second largest component, the project developed and rehabilitated access roads, and provided drinking water, electricity, schools, dispensaries and warehouses to the 15 new villages developed (and others which were already existing). The Civil works component was concerned with flood control measures, irrigation (rehabilitation of 1,500 ha and development of a further 620 ha) rehabilitation of various existing canals (including lining some canals to reduce water losses), land leveling to improve water control, and the establishment of a drainage network.
A small credit in kind facility was included in the project design to enable farmers to purchase the fertilisers, seeds, pesticides and small implements which were to be provided through SRDI. A number of detailed socio-economic and design studies were included in the project costs to allow further specification of the project facilities during the early stages of the project. M&E, which was undertaken by a Unit in the general management division of SRDI, i.e. covering all SRDI activities and projects, was equipped by the project for this task.
In the light of findings of technical and socio-economic studies carried-out by the project in 1983, project cost allocations were altered so that :
- provision for civil works was increased to USD 14.4 mn;
- provision for resettlement was reduced following spontaneous settlement along secondary roads;
- provision towards social infrastructure was increased by a larger financial contribution of the parallel European Development Fund (EDF) programme for health measures;
- technical assistance was reduced to USD 0.9 mn, after a review of existing local capacity.
The financing plan for the project was complicated by the number of donors and the different methods of financing. In summary the plan as proposed was:
- joint financing by IFAD (SDR 11.3 mn), ADF (UCF 8.0 mn), and OPEC (USD 2.0 mn) for civil works, water supply, electricity, training and community development, resettlement and agricultural inputs;
- a contribution by WFP for up to USD 0.85 mn in food improvement and compensation during rehabilitation works;
- a grant by EDF of USD 5.9 mn for social infrastructure and health components of the project, financed on a parallel basis.
Expected effects and assumptions
The project plans called for approximately 3,475 families to be resettled and a further 1,845 families were to be assisted to improve their productive capacity (this required the development of 2,400 ha of irrigated land and 3,550 ha of rainfed land). The value of incremental agricultural production was estimated at appraisal as USD 8.4 mn. at full development; this included a further 10,890 tons of rice and 476 tons of coffee, as well as more modest gains in groundnuts, maize, soya beans, bananas, and cotton. Beneficiaries' incomes were estimated to increase by about 65%. In general all food deficits of project beneficiaries would be covered, although animal protein requirements would still need to be purchased; surplus production from the project area would contribute to reducing food deficits throughout the region. Access to regular medical services and hygienic water supplies was intended to benefit the local population generally (estimated at 24,000 people). It was assumed in the project design that (i) coordination of the financing arrangements would be organised by the donors and would not hinder implementation, and (ii) output prices would be set at a level that was sufficiently attractive to the settlers to encourage production of the government's priority crops.
The mid-term evaluation mission consisted of a rural engineer/irrigation specialist and an agricultural economist; they spent approximately two months in Burundi, from November 1986 to January 1987, and overlapped with a AfDB/IFAD supervision mission. The mission held extensive meetings with government agencies, project staff and beneficiaries, visited the project sites, and reviewed the reports on the project.
The implementation of project activities was directly affected by poor coordination between the funding agencies, with resulting delays in disbursements. At the same time a number of studies, which were included in the design, pointed to the need to revise some of the specifications of the individual components, and also change the balance between the components. These factors eventually led, in 1985, to a review of the project's financial situation which highlighted the strong imbalance of disbursements between 3 of the cofinanciers (ADF, IFAD and the OPEC fund). As a result, a revised list of goods and services and a new financing plan (in terms of foreign exchange, local currency costs distribution and percentage of financing by each cofinancier) was approved in October 1985.
In addition, implementation of the irrigation and rice production plans were directly affected by: (i) the government's decision to liberalise paddy and rice marketing, (which removed SRDI's monopoly, and had implications both for loan recovery and potential volumes processed by the rice mill); (ii) illegal imports of rice from Tanzania which, under parallel currency exchange circumstances, benefited from an unfair and significant market advantage; and (iii) the sales of Japanese food aid, in the form of rice, by SRDI on behalf of the Government of Burundi.
SRDI employs some 200 permanent national staff and 140,000 man-days/year of temporary labourers, 40-60% of which are assigned to East Mpanda. Various personnel changes at management level have taken place, and although their effect on project progress is difficult to assess, it noticeably contributed to the slow start-up of the project. Technical Assistance staff consisted of 3 experts (Agronomist, Financial Director, and Land Leveling Specialist) for a total of 11 man-years, a significant reduction compared to the originally planned 59 man-years for 10 experts. The counterpart situation was found to be satisfactory except in the case of the Financial Director, who did not have a counterpart.
The analytical accounting system adopted by the project was in line with procedures and systems introduced by other projects in Burundi and proved to be an effective control and verification tool. However, while it met all requirements of SDRI as the Development Company of the Ruzizi/Mpanda area, it did not allow for sufficient separation of the actual costs of the East Mpanda project alone, and did not give sufficient insight into unit costs and cost accounting for individual services/activities of SRDI.
Technical studies, entrusted to the engineering consultant DHV, were carried out in 1981-83, and resulted in the detailed design and tender documents for: (a) construction of buildings; (b) training of rivers and drains: (c) the primary irrigation network; (d) drinking water supply; (e) social infrastructure; and (f) feeder roads. Studies for secondary canals and on-farm irrigation have been carried out by SRDI. Progress of the studies was slow, which together with administrative delays, contributed to the project falling significantly behind schedule. Implementation of civil works started in 1984, 2 years later than foreseen at appraisal.
River alignment measures and drainage collectors, which included dredging and dyking of certain sections of the main rivers in the project area, were started in July 1984, and completed ahead of schedule in September 1985. The evaluation mission reviewed a number of engineering issues which required further attention, including preventive/protective measure against erosion, additional dredging etc. Construction of the Primary Irrigation Network started in November 1984, and was also completed ahead of schedule in late 1985. Primary networks have been completed for 571 ha of new schemes, and are substantially completed for the rehabilitation of the Bujumbura rice fields. However, in 1985 a (20 years high) flood destroyed two of the existing dams on which some primary canals depended, requiring some modifications of the network.
On-farm irrigation including construction of secondary and tertiary canals, and land leveling, have been undertaken directly by SRDI. Considerable delays were experienced with respect to on-farm irrigation, mainly due to the late arrival of machinery (end 1984), the need for revisions of studies, and unfavourable weather conditions in 1986. Construction of project buildings was completed in 1985, and construction of 5 village depots (under EDF financing) has recently started. The power line with transformers was completed in 1984, the line links the centres of Mugerero and Maramvya to the Bujumbura power supply.
Agricultural extension. At the time of the MTE, extension activities had been heavily biased towards rice farmers operating on irrigated schemes, with few activities for rainfed agriculture. Suitable, well documented technical packages were available for single cropped rice and for cotton, and were being disseminated among farmers, but more work was required for the development of technical packages for double cropped rice and other food crops. Demonstrations have been carried-out on irrigated plots assigned to the extension workers, but more systematic demonstration/trials on farmers' fields, were planned for 1987. The extension workers' tasks include (i) managing the input supply system to ensures timely availability of paddy seeds, fertilizers, agro-chemicals, tools and implements, at the village level, and (ii) organising the very effective collection and marketing system for paddy. The project started to organize farmers groups in late 1986; these groups were expected to improve, at field level, coordination of canal maintenance, cultivation operations and water management.
The supply of farm inputs is directly linked to the Credit Programme operated by SRDI, under which all inputs for paddy cultivation on irrigation plots are made available through individual crop loans. Virtually all rice farmers have made use of this facility, and repayments have dramatically improved compared to earlier years, reaching close to 90% in 1985-86. Introduced in February 1986, the social programme focuses on nutrition and sanitation education. The programme was found to be dynamic, but has suffered from a lack of resources and teaching materials (which were due to be provided under the 1987-89 budget). So far, the programme has reached well over 1,000 beneficiaries, including infants suffering from malnutrition. SRDI purchases paddy in the villages through its extension workers, and pays farmers on a cash basis, after deduction of crop loans and farmer's fees. Purchases in Mugerero and East Mpanda have increased from 2,700 MT in 1979 to 7,800 MT in 1986. The volumes of paddy received at the SRDI mill (including purchases from other areas) had also increased, from 4,300 MT in 1979 to 10,600 MT in 1986.
Monitoring and evaluation system The M&E unit produces monthly and quarterly M&E reports, and contributes to the preparation of general project progress reports. There is only one officer responsible for this unit, and the unit is understaffed and short of equipment. It does benefit from the occasional inputs from the M & E service of the Ministry of Agriculture (DGPA).
Effects assessment and sustainability
The first implementation activities with regard to the social infrastructure programme were started in November 1986, and civil works were launched in 1984. Other activities, such as agricultural extension, social animation, and monitoring and evaluation, were initiated in 1985 and 1986. Visible effects of the project were therefore very limited by MTE, and an attempt to assess effects would have been premature because of the implementation delays. Hence the comments below are circumspect.
The project has contributed very positively to the strengthening of SRDI, and has helped this institution put into place a sound administrative organisation supported by adequate resources in terms of personnel, physical facilities and equipment, thus creating significant employment opportunities in the area. In spite of various shortcomings and problems, the project has to be commended for the dedication of its staff and credited with having in place most elements (such as farmers' groups, credit, savings programme) which should now facilitate a speedy and successful implementation of the various activities under the project. This has been demonstrated on the 352 ha of irrigated lands developed by the project in 1985-86, where the systems put in place for input supply, paddy collection, and marketing have proved effective.
Yields achieved on SRDI schemes in 1985-86 for single cropped rice averaged 3.56 tons paddy/ha (actual sales by farmers to SRDI). Yields recorded by the monitoring and evaluation unit, based on 193 sample crop cuttings, averaged 5.7 tons paddy/ha. These results compare favourably with yields of 1.2 tons/ha outside the project area, and appraisal projections of 3 tons/ha at full development. The income of farmers from their 0.5 ha rice plot were, on average, USD 325, compared to appraisal estimates of 260 USD. Cotton yields averaged slightly below 1 ton/ha (c.f. appraisal projection of 1.35 ton/ha) and will only be reached with improved technical packages.
Recurrent Costs and Sustainability of the Project The total recurrent costs of SRDI for 1985 were approximately Fbu 175 million; for East Mpanda, after completion of physical infrastructure works, recurrent costs are likely to be approximately Fbu 70 million per year. SRDI's foreseeable annual revenues from the project area are of the order of Fbu 110 million (Fbu 44 million from farmers' fees and some Fbu 75 million from profits of the rice mill), and would therefore be sufficient to ensure sustainability in the long run. However, such revenues would not allow for the continuation of direct and indirect subsidies paid by SRDI (totaling in 1985 Fbu 62.5 million towards seeds, fertilizers, overheads, and former farmers' bad debts).
Main issues and recommendations
The major recommendations from the mission were as follows:
Project Management and Administration. With regard to general management the mission recommended: (i) a more participative form of management with representation, consultation, and involvement of farmers in SRDI's decision making; (ii) improved inter-departmental coordination so as to avoid imputation errors in accounting; (iii) streamlining of the accounting system, so as to separate the East Mpanda project from other SRDI activities and to generate essential cost accounting information; iv) immediate recruitment of a counterpart to the Financial and Administrative Director of SRDI; (v) computerisation of SRDI's data management and accounting system. For the Engineering Department, there is a need to: (i) create a separate service responsible for the coordination and management of all hydraulic aspects of the irrigation schemes; (ii) immediately recruit a rural engineer to head the service. With regard to the Extension Department, the need is to: (i) put in place, as planned, a service for agricultural extension, distinct from the service for agricultural production; (ii) introduce some degree of specialisation among field workers to avoid over-emphasis of administrative tasks; (iii) reallocate field personnel to provide a more balanced distribution of support services to rice and other farmer crops.
Concerning technical assistance, it was recommended to extend the contracts of the extension advisor and of the topography expert by, respectively, 2 years and 1 year and to provide up to 23 person-months short-terms technical assistance in disciplines such as monitoring and evaluation, audit, irrigation and hydraulic calculations, integration of women, and in-service training.
The mission recommended the extension of the project until 1989 to ensure completion of the irrigation works.
Women's participation in the project is limited and needs to be increased; in the first instance a study should be undertaken to prepare detailed profiles of women's activities and expectations, and then by means of a seminar and a sensitisation programme within the project, the role of women should be given greater prominence..
The M & E Unit should be strengthened and given more resources; additional information and indicators should be collected to help with more precise analysis of the effects of project activities.
Group formation has so far only been applied to rice cultivators. This should be given higher priority in the development process and further extended to include dryland farmers. Also, as women constitute 53% of the agricultural work force, group structures, concerns and activities should respond to women's needs.
The financing plan of a project should be as straightforward as possible, so as to avoid administrative complexities and adverse effects on achievement of overall project implementation and objectives due to dependence on parallel financed projects. Most of the social components of the project aiming at improving the socio-economic conditions and the standard of living in the area under a parallel financing from EDF have yet to be implemented.
In this design of project, where detailed specifications are to be prepared as part of the early stages of implementation, or where in-country experience is limited, it is useful to have an outside technical back-stopping agency which can be called upon to provide support when necessary. This can also arbitrate between agencies, especially in the early stages of a project (for instance, during the preparation of tenders and selection of consultants). Such an arrangement could have reduced the considerable delays encountered in the project, which have led to the civil works being more than two years behind schedule.
A clear and detailed plan of operation is vital to implementation. The executing agency should have a clear mandate, there should be a well-defined project area and target group, and the project management should have the benefit of previous pertinent experience. Without these necessary precursors the initial stages of project implementation are likely to be marked by delay and confusion.
It is valuable to the project if the monitoring system is capable of taking on a quality control function for project implementation; this requires adequate resources and qualified staff with practical as well as theoretical training in monitoring methodology and knowledge an experience of the various aspects of development.
Paddy sales were adversely affected by changes in government policies and other factors over which the government exercised some control. These changes at the macro level were a threat to the viability of the small rice producers on the resettlement schemes. The CI should have made the government aware of these problems, and the coordination mechanism for the project should have been able to influence these decisions. In general, where the incomes of poor farmers are dependent on the sales of items where the price (or quantities) are controlled, then some assurance should be required from government that the situation will be maintained.
Smallholder Fertilizer Project
Malawi agricultural sector is dualistic. A modern plantation (estate) sub-sector under private management produces export crops (tobacco, sugar and tea) and had registered a growth rate of 10% between 1973 and 1982. The other sub-sector is the smallholder traditional sub-sector, accounting for 80% of all agricultural production and providing the country with food staples (maize, rice, beans, cassava, sweet potatoes, groundnuts, sorghum and millets) and some surpluses for export (tobacco, groundnuts, tea, coffee and guar beans). The smallholder sub-sector was expanding at about 3% per annum in real terms, which was a little less than the annual population growth of 3.2%.
Project objectives and design
The average GDP (1982) of the smallholder agriculture was estimated at USD357. However, cash incomes of a typical smallholder were in the range of USD50 - USD100 qualifying small farmers as IFAD target group. The total number of smallholder households with an average of 4.5people and average holdings of 2.5ha were estimated at 1.5million. About 400000 households would benefit directly.
Objectives and components
Objectives. The Project would cover a four-year period from the 1983/84 crop season through 1986/87 and is designed to increase the productivity of the smallholder sub-sector through improvements in policy decisions, the restoration of sufficient and timely financing for fertilizer procurement and technical support to the sub-sector.
Components. These objectives would be met through the following components:
(a) improving Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (ADMARC) procedures for procuring and distributing fertilizer;
(b) establishing a fertilizer revolving fund (SFRF) in the Reserve Bank of Malawi;
(c) strengthening the institutional capacity of Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) and ADMARC; and
(d) ensuring that the pricing of fertilizer, other farm inputs and farm products provide the appropriate incentive for smallholders.
The project would be implemented by MOA and ADMARC with the support of other concerned institutions. The Ministry of Finance (MOF) would be responsible for the establishment of the SFRF, for the annual GOM'S contribution to the SFRF and its annual audit.
Expected effects and assumptions
The project would contribute towards the achievement of food self-sufficiency and expanding agricultural exports through greater maize production as well as increased tobacco and other exportable cash crops. The project would benefit smallholders, consumers and the national economy.
It is assumed that: (a)total cropped area and individual crop areas would remain the same; and (b)tea areas which could not be fertilized would go out of production. Therefore, all benefits would be generated by maintaining/improving yields. Regarding the project implementation, a major assumption would be the development and installation of a procurement system that assures a more timely arrival of fertilizers. Increased productivity resulting from use of fertilizer increases the demand for farm labour generating employment opportunities in excess of household.
A joint evaluation/review was undertaken by IFAD and IDA in June/July 1987. Two IFAD consultants, a M&E specialist and an agriculturalist/marketing specialist visited the country for three weeks, during which the mission spent a week in field visits. The evaluation mission met and discussed with the IDA supervision mission and the government officials.
The project was implemented in a landlocked country where delays in arrival were often experienced and the farm sector could not obtain adequate and timely agricultural inputs, particularly fertilizers. The project was a programme loan, the proceeds of which would be used to establish SFRF to alleviate the liquidity problems of ADMARC and, ensure sustainability of a future supply of inputs. Besides IFAD, contributors would be IDA, GOM and ADMARC.
The project would be under the supervision of a joint management committee (JMC) consisting of MOF, MOA, Department of Statutory Bodies (DSB) and ADMARC. The daily operations of the SFRF would be the responsibility of ADMARC. The Fertilizer Section of MOA would ensure continuity of fertilizer supply to the smallholder sub-sector.
The Project's implementation has been basically according to plan and disbursement has been on schedule (the loan funds are virtually finished but over U.S.$ 500 000 remains in the IFAD Grant account). However, late recruitment of all but one of the four internationally recruited experts and delays in attachment of some counterparts has caused delays in several components. The influence of several external factors (closure of the Mozambique import route, the Fertilizer Subsidy Removal Programme and emphasis on High Analysis Fertilizers - HAF) have also altered the scope and scale of some project components.
Throughout the life of the project, timeliness of fertilizer demand forecasting has improved steadily. By the 1985/86 season, the 18 month forecasting lead time was well established. Procurement procedures, based on international competitive bidding, including external transportation into Malawi, have been implemented since the 1984/85 season. This has ensured the timely arrival of all fertilizer ordered by the SFRF.
ADMARC established the 'Fertilizer Fund Unit' at its Headquarters and seconded staff and provided the necessary facilities. The management accountant established a system of accounting and bookkeeping to provide comprehensive details of SFRF activities. Regular statements of reconciliation of purchases and sales with deposits into the SFRF bank accounts are prepared. Quarterly and annual financial statements are produced with balance sheets and statements. The accounts of the SFRF have been audited annually by independent auditors acceptable to IDA and IFAD.
Internal distribution of fertilizer both to 'parent' (main) and 'seasonal' markets has been poorly monitored with the consequences that distribution problems, if reported at all, cannot be dealt with in a timely manner. The impact of the project transport specialist on internal distribution is considered to have been negligible.
The process to initiate policy analysis and reform was through the JMC. Although representatives of most of the organizations forming the JMC met regularly from the project inception, it was not formally established until March 1985 (i.e., two years after loan effectiveness). Representation on the committee has not been regular neither in terms of institutions nor specific participants. Although the relevant topics have been raised, the JMC itself has had little or no role in the nature of, or actual, follow up. Supervision missions have played a major role in ensuring that the Government support the continued financial viability of the SFRF. However, the missions did not fully address the issues of fertilizer distribution or use.
Effects, assessment and sustainability
Effects on Beneficiaries and their Incomes. Sixteen percent of all farmers are members of farmers credit clubs and these clubs distribute over 50% of all the fertilizer sold by the Fund. The majority of farmers sold fertilizer on credit are above the average farm size. The average loan taken by club members has dropped since the last season as has the sales of hybrid seed, as a consequence of the declining profitability of fertilized hybrid maize.
Although nearly half of the total fertilizer sold is by cash payment, there is little further knowledge of usage. This has meant that the project is unable to monitor changes in the quantity or applications and has led to the conclusion that the leakage of fertilizer to the estate sectors (estimated at 15%) comes largely from the cash sales side of total fertilizer sales.
The declining profitability by maize, reflected in the nutrient/maize price ratios and gross margins has contributed to the decline in maize cultivation (especially hybrid maize). Farmers are growing more local maize but with the reduced yields, this has not balanced the decline in hybrid cultivation. Consequently, Malawi will have to import maize to meet the expected deficit from the 1986/87 season (approximately 131 000 tons).
Continuity and Sustainability of Input Supply. In July 1987, fertilizer is available in several depots in the country ready for the 1987-88 season. This would be the fifth consecutive season that the SFRF had imported Malawi's fertilizer requirement for smallholders. While the long-term objective of increased maize production has not yet been attained, the project has achieved the unstated objective of maintaining maize production by maintaining fertilizer supply following several years of erratic supply which looked likely to continue unless action was taken.
The mission support the extension of the project by one year as essential to facilitate the transition of the SFRF status and to continue the work of developing fertilizer recommendations and use according to farmer category, crop and location within Malawi. However, one year extension is insufficient to attain the objective of a sustainable fund operated effectively by Malawian nationals and regularly distributing various types of fertilizer to different farmers throughout the country. It is recommended, therefore, that the project be extended to September 1989 (i.e., for two more years).
Effects on Local/National Economic Development Trends. The anticipated role of the project in producer prices reform aiming at moving them towards farmgate parity prices, has been superseded both by events and other donors and the JMC has not had an influential role. Since 1984, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) conduct annual consultations with GOM on prices within the context of structural adjustment loan (SAL).
Credit and Fertilizer Use. The total number of farmers receiving credit is only 16% (1984/85) of the total farm families. Further, while the majority of farm families are on holdings of less than 1.00 hectare in size, the majority of club members are on holdings of between 1.5 - 3.00 ha. The fertilizer distributed by the credit clubs (approximately 50% of total sales) is therefore delivered to the above average size (1.17ha) farmer.
Monitoring and Evaluation M&E). The M&E of project activities rested with the Central Evaluation Unit (CEU) of MOA. The Agricultural Development Division (ADD) staff would submit reports periodically on the status/availability of fertilizer in the ADMARC markets located in their respective areas. The project agriculturalist would collate and evaluate these reports in addition to monitoring fertilizer recommendations, demand estimate, etc. Subsequently, IFAD dispatched during the period 1983-1985, three M&E consultants to streamline the system. Very little has been achieved because the CEU and ADD had staff shortages which prevented their involvement. The responsibility has been, by default with the project agriculturalist and his counterpart. Furthermore, monthly monitoring of distribution was not possible due to transportation problems.
Main issues and recommendations
Management and Coordination of Project Activities. The JMC should be activated to ensure coordination of project management activities at policy level.
Availability of Fertilizer in all Markets. Some investigations revealed that some local markets in close proximity to main depots were under-stocked whereas distant parent markets were oversupplied. The main reason for this anomaly was the transport rates. However, this illustrates the problem of non-availability of data which would ensure that all parent market receive their scheduled quantities and type.
Device Mechanism to Increase Access of Smaller Farmers to Farm Inputs. Analysis has shown that fertilizer distributed through farm-clubs on credit has been delivered to the above average size farmer. While such recipients are still within eligible IFAD target group, special efforts are needed to reach the low segment of the target group.
Sustainability of the Revolving Fund. The project needs to be extended for two years to: (a)develop fertilizer recommendations; (b)to train local counterpart staff to effectively operate the SFRF; and (c)to ensure smooth transfer of the Fertilizer Section activities to national staff. Furthermore, any changes which the GOM envisaged for efficient operation of SFRF should be reviewed with IFAD.
Macro-economic policies designed to stimulate production for food self-sufficiency and export are important to integrate into the design of rural development projects, whether such projects have been developed in association with or independent of the adjustment programme. The impact of relative prices of inputs and products, pricing mechanisms, input subsidies, and allocation of land for export crops (e.g., tobacco) need to be carefully assessed at the design stage.
Every appraisal report should contain a list of assumptions and an assessment of how the project proposes to influence the assumption and reduce the risks so that its potential damaging effect on the project is limited. Failure at the design stage to identify and propose remedies for all the assumptions affecting the project caused problems during implementation. Such problems could be due to external factors beyond the control of the project, but awareness about their effect on implementation would induce the project management to influence decisions regarding them through analysis and policy dialogue with concerned authorities.
It is necessary to evaluate all the institutions involved in implementation, their roles and inputs to the project. Institutional analysis did not identify the structure or constraints of fertilizer distribution at farm level. The assumption that somehow fertilizer would reach the target group has meant that little is known about how and when fertilizer reaches smallholders or in what quantities.
The project design clearly stated operating procedures and financial reporting requirements which have been instrumental in ensuring the efficient implementation of the SFRF. Regular financial reporting by project personnel ensured conformity to these procedures and identified deviations immediately.
Dowa West Rural Development Project
The Project area covers Dowa West, one of the four rural development areas (RDA) in the Kasungu Agricultural Development Division (KADD) in the Central Region of Malawi. Dowa West covers an area of 1176km2 and is favourably located for easy transport and communication with the capital city, Lilongwe. The total population in 1981 was about 154000 i.e., 3% of the total population, growing at 2.5% per annum which was lower than national average of 2.9%. The population density varies between 74 and 105 person km2 in the north and south of the project area respectively. Project area relatively uniform, with slight variations in rainfall of 800 - 900m per annum. Water sources are fairly abundant, with a number of seasonal tributaries to the Bua River. Within project area the right to cultivate land is granted by the village headsman as the representative of the Chief. With a matrilineal system these rights are passed down the female line. The average household hectarage is 1.5 - 3.0ha. About 70% of the farming families cultivate fire-cured tobacco as a cash crop (10% of land). All households cultivate maize for household consumption (60% of land), groundnuts (22% of land) and the rest on sweet potatoes and vegetables. Average per capita income was USD48 including the value of subsistence production and additional USD36 per capita for households owning livestock.
Project objectives and design
With a per capita income ranging between USD48 and USD84, most farmers in Dowa West would fall within IFAD's target group and in particular about 9300smallholders households. The project would focus on farmers with smallholdings of 2.5ha or less.
Objectives and components
Objectives. The objectives of the project are to raise present low incomes of smallholders by improving their agricultural production, particularly of food crops and improve their living conditions by installing better water supplies and health facilities and improving community development services. At the same time, it was to develop the institutional framework and carry out research investigations which were to provide a basis for later investment planning.
Components. The project components comprised of (a): agricultural extension support to carry out demonstration trials on farmers' plots as well as for staff training; (b)training facilities to be expanded and expatriate and national technical assistance to assist in training; (c)research on crop and on-farm storage; (d)pilot burley tobacco scheme; (e)livestock and veterinary services; (f)incremental credit; (g)marketing sheds for inputs and crop produce; (h)community development; (i)rural water supply rehabilitation and construction; (j)health services; (k)farm-to-market roads; (l)management support to the project including offices, vehicles and equipment and staff housing. Monitoring and evaluation would be also supported in similar fashion and; (m)support in areas of finance and evaluation to the Kasungu Agricultural Division.
The project was managed solely by national staff. Although the management performance has been satisfactory; nevertheless it has been negatively affected by a weak management of information throughout the life of the project.
Expected effects and assumptions
The main objectives of the project are to improve the productive capacity and the socio-economic welfare of the smallholder farmers in the area. More intensive crop extension efforts, improved veterinary services, along with credit facilities and better social services, are expected to expand the productive capacity and generate economic benefits. The benefits from increased crop and livestock production are quantifiable.
The basic assumptions of the project design were: (a)that area-specific extension messages would be made available to the producers; (b)the markets would be developed early in the life of the project through farm-to-market roads construction and improvement to ensure timely and cost-effective distribution of inputs and efficient transportation of produce; and (c)the Government would introduce a systematic approach that would take into consideration farmers' produce margins.
The Interim Evaluation Mission which consisted of six experts in the fields of economics, sociology, agronomy, farming systems, nutrition and monitoring and evaluation visited Malawi during August/September 1991. The mission spent about 20days in the field as well as around one week visiting with government officials. The mission had access to various project reports and benefited from a number of field surveys and studies undertaken by the M&E. The mission also met and discussed with government and project authorities as well as with donors.
Malawi is a landlocked country, a fact which has important implications for the supply of farm inputs and the marketing of the export crops. To increase the effectiveness of extension services, the GOM restructured its extension services on a geographic unit approach, based on ecological principles consistent with administrative boundaries. The 180 Extension Planning Areas (EPAs) will be grouped into 40 Development Areas. The project would provide assistance to agricultural extension through the EPAs under the KADD administration.
The project would be implemented within the context of the National Rural Development Programme (NRDP), designed to provide a more extensive level of services to a larger population. NRDP would increase smallholder production through the provision of input and farm services. NRDP is financed by a host of bilateral and multilateral donors.
Research. During the course of the project an adaptive research team has been established. This was intended to complement the work of the commodity teams at the main research stations. Details of a few of the experiments which had been carried out were available. The quality of presentation and analysis of the data is variable, but unfortunately none of the work of the past seven years has provided extension staff with any new technical information which would assist farmers in overcoming their constraints. This activity is part of the national research programme and modifications which might make it more effective will have to come from the national level.
Extension. The extension service was expected to continue to work with the modified Training and Visit (T&V) system which forms the basis of the national programme. Most attenders of meetings are members of credit clubs so that the system is not fulfilling its objective of reaching out to the poorer members of the community. Part of the reason for this is that a good deal of the instructions relates to crops (hybrid maize, tobacco) which are not grown by the poorer families, and to practices (the use of fertilizer and manure) which are beyond their resources. There are considerable weaknesses in the content of the messages being passed on to farmers. It is only in the case of hybrid maize that the farm household/baseline survey data indicates that yields of fertilizer users are 37% higher compared to non-users, i.e., 1600 versus 1170 kg/ha.
Pilot Smallholder Burley Tobacco Scheme. The project appraisal report proposed the establishment of a burley tobacco scheme for 50 farmers. In the event 37 farmers were helped to produce burley tobacco on a settlement scheme. After several years they were helped to obtain leasehold land and become small estate growers. Another group was brought in and they "graduate" in the coming season. The farmers obtained high yields of tobacco (av. 1 800 kg/ha) and as they received the full price for their crop (less marketing costs) their incomes in recent years have been over MK 4 000 each. Farmers who were selected were well satisfied with the scheme. The scheme has demonstrated that small scale burley growers can achieve high yields of good quality tobacco.
Credit. Recovery rates on both seasonal and medium term loans have fallen during the life of the project. On the basis of a recent KADD Credit Default Study, undertaken as a result of IFAD's 1989-MTE of the project, and from discussions in the field, it appears that a number of factors have contributed to the increase in arrears experienced since 1987/88. These include: (a) poor club appraisal, management, supervision and training, (b) willful defaulting, (c) embezzlement of funds by club officials, (d) misuse of inputs by Field Assistants and Credit and Marketing Officers and (e) illegal tobacco growing and/or the diversion of inputs into estates. As a result of these findings a number of measures have been taken to improve credit recovery. These include tightening up loan administrative procedures, training club members and project officers and devising a systematic means to reschedule loans to recover past arrears.
Input Supply and Marketing. All of the marketing facilities have been constructed and are in use. The centres are staffed and the Agricultural Development and Marketing Cooperation (ADMARC) is financing the operation and maintenance costs. Fertilizer and seeds are supplied by
ADMARC on the basis of demand forecasts made by KADD and ADMARC for credit and cash sales. There has been a shift away from cash to credit sales. Farmers have often complained that fertilizers and other inputs have been inadequate in terms of total amounts, sizes of packages and timeliness of delivery, especially in areas where sheds have been closed to reduce costs.
Community Development. In general, most of the component's programmes have proceeded reasonably well and have genuinely engendered a greater spirit of self-reliance among the villages targeted by the Project.
Effects, assessment and sustainability
Beneficiaries and Income Effects. In the absence of a baseline study of beneficiaries targeted by the community development component, one can speak of impact only in general terms. Unless hybrid maize yields can be increased significantly, for example through a better application of fertilizer, it seems preferable for the smallholder to grow local maize as returns are higher compared to all but one of the hybrid maize alternatives. The exception is the high yield alternative (optimistic scenario) with a gross margin of MK447 per ha and a return to labour of MK2.85per day. The gross margin for the local maize alternative (given a yield of 900kg/ha based on KADD observations over a number of years) are MK211 per ha and MK1.23 per labour. In contrast with the above figures are the results for burley tobacco: a gross margin of MK2149 and returns to labour of MK13.78. These findings assume a price of MK4 per kg which the Government agreed to be paid by ADMARC to smallholders in the 1990/91 season. If farmers could sell directly to the auction floor at MK7 per kg, labour returns would peak at MK21.63 per day. From the above it is obvious that burley tobacco is by far the most profitable alternative.
Increased literacy, by definition, should have a positive spill-over in other areas. A number of extension messages are accompanied by pamphlets and booklets which should improve the transmission of information to village communities. The community development component of the project does appear to be reaching very poor members of the Dowa West RDP who might otherwise be totally bypassed by the project. In addition, most of the programme sub-components appear to be reasonable ideas, albeit in need of further refinement.
Effects on Nutrition and Food Security. In general, 79% of all households run out of local maize by December. The households that run out of maize the earliest tend to be non-credit club members, non-hybrid maize growers, female-headed, non-fertilizer users, and households with less than one hectare. To compensate for maize shortages, households in Dowa West pursue a number of strategies to meet their consumption needs. These include crop diversification, Ganyu labour (i.e., casual labour), estate work, handicraft and livestock sale. The nutritional impact of the project is difficult to measure. Since the IFAD project was originally designed to target farmers in credit clubs, many of the food insecure households have remained outside the reach of project activities.
Over 70% of the male children and 55% of the female children in Dowa West are nutritionally stunted. To compensate for this, the KADD staff have put together a plan for reaching the poorer households in Dowa West and the rest of the Division. Building upon the information generated by various surveys, a strategy has been developed to identify the food-insecure households. Households are to be selected by local committees consisting of village headmen, field assistants, and family heads using a checklist of characteristics. The households selected will be organized into groups for targeted interventions. The evaluation team feels that this is a good start.
Specific Effects on Women. In general the women programme is fairly uniform across all RDPs. It consists of forming women's groups, attempting to target them with credit, activities related to crop improvement and home economics, introducing Income Generating Activities (IGAs), and training programmes. The number of women's credit groups has fluctuated during the life of the project, but with the exception of Mchinji it has not increased. There is no obvious factor, excepting the increase in arrears in general among all clubs. Conventional wisdom insists that women clubs are better at repaying their credit than men. However, the Smallholder Agricultural and Credit Administration (SACA) notes that there is no evidence to support this assertion and project data has not been desegregated to test the hypothesis.
Environmental Effects. The project did not provide any alternative to continuous cultivation. It did increase the supply of fertilizer to the area. Under existing circumstances this led to the growth of stronger plants which contributed to an increase in organic matter in the soil (particularly through the increased root growth). It would not have counteracted the decline in soil pH and only marginally reduced soil loss. The increase in tobacco production stimulated under the project would have increased the demand for fuelwood. The project had no major component for counteracting this trend.
Effects on Local/National Development Trends. The rehabilitation of roads and the improvement in marketing infrastructures have had a positive impact on the economy of Dowa West. Attempts at diversification of crop production should improve the local economy and assist the national policy aiming at the development of the rural areas.
Credit. By 1991, credit targeted only 25% of all farm households in Dowa West. Credit still reaches only a small percentage of farmers in each RDP. Farmers visited generally indicated that their income had increased as a result of having received credit under the project. There are doubts, however, that the credit component reaches the poorer farmers. The administrative costs of the small loans served are likely to be high.
In the absence of a baseline study of beneficiaries targeted by the community development component, one can speak of impact only in general terms. Given the National Credit Committee's refusal to raise interest rates, the long-term costs of such lending, its effect on the viability of the revolving fund, and the likelihood of its ability to improve the well-being of smallholder farmers must be carefully considered. Finally, considering the rather poor performance record of farmers clubs in recovering credit, one must naturally ask if one extends credit to more marginal farmers than those previously targeted by the project, would clubs be even less well disciplined, inducing even higher arrears than in the past. This raises the more general issue of whether targeting smallholders through clubs with credit is the most effective and efficient way to reach Malawi's poorest smallholders.
Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E). The quality and usefulness of the M&E system has been mixed. On the one hand the M&E unit produced useful studies and survey results, in particular the Credit Default Study, the Household Food Security Surveys and recently the Farm Household/Baseline Survey. On the other hand, however, the data management and reporting system has been experiencing several problems. Data from the RDPs suffer from a lack of comparability, standard formats are lacking and reports/data are difficult to retrieve. Progress reports are often submitted too late to be meaningful. They provide a lot of details but essential data is missing. A system of beneficiary contact monitoring (including for example a tracer study of credit recipients) has never been established. Part of these problems can be explained from the high staff turnover during the first years of the project and from the limited M&E staff available. However, more staff will not solve the problems unless the skills of the staff are upgraded through training and technical assistance (with on-the-job training).
Sustainability. The project as designed was complex with about thirteen components. Hence its implementation was the responsibility of many agencies. Though its integration within the structure of the existing institution would supposedly ensure its future sustainability, a critical factor in this respect would be the GOM price and marketing policies both at the economy level and cropwise. Unless the flow of inputs, particularly fertilizer and seeds and the input/product price ratio remained favourable to smallholders, they would more likely revert to subsistence production. In this respect the development of markets, through investment in infrastructure and equal opportunities to all producers, are requisites for sustainability of project benefits.
Sustainability of credit operations would depend on the farm clubs. The evaluation revealed an inefficient performance in terms of deliveries to the intended beneficiaries, the low recovery rates, the non-responsible conduct of the office bearers and the consequent lack of sense of ownership among the members. In such situations, the sustainability of credit, input supply and other project services would be in jeopardy.
Main issues and recommendations
Macro-economic policies effects on farm sector, in particular, permission for smallholders to grow export crops such as tobacco, the marketing arrangements and the pricing system have a profound effect on the small sector development and commercialization. In any future projects, the impact of these macro-economic policies on project performance should be carefully analyzed during the design stage. Alternative scenarios should be drawn and examined and discussed with the concerned government.
To create a rural financial system to reach the target group, a number of measures should be pursued:
(a) the system should respond to beneficiaries demands which means that some need assessments/diagnostic surveys are essential;
(b) a target group oriented delivery mechanism should be established. Since the farm clubs are not effective in reaching the most vulnerable segment of the rural poor, credit groups in which these poor participate should be formed; and
(c) loans repayments are low and farm clubs, particularly office bearers, have high delinquency rates. To improve repayments, there is an urgency to train and develop groups (training, savings mobilization, collective action) to a high level of commitment for peers pressure to become effective in repayments.
For effective extension, the requisites are:
(a) a clear extension message which is responsive to individual farmer needs and constraints;
(b) improving contacts with low resource farming households, since contacts are maintained with about 40% of better-off households;
(c) need for training of extension staff and providing them with appropriate technical messages; and
(d) availability of attractive input/product price ratio through allowing smallholders to grow burley tobacco on customary lands, improved delivery mechanism, marketing and pricing.
For household food security, rural households apply a number of survival strategies and policies and projects should be designed to augment the returns from their alternative activities.
The effects which macro-economic policies are likely to have on project sub-components should be thoroughly investigated. The Malawi's land tenure, marketing and price policies as well as its general support to the estate sector have adversely affected smallholder crop production.
The need for a more dynamic, competitive and promotion-oriented marketing system and a farmer-centered approach to development.
A sustainable rural financial system which starts with savings mobilization, is demand led, and seeks to promote and develop a viable rural banking system. The recent Credit Default Study indicates that once credit became supply led farmers clubs expanded too rapidly and lost their cohesion. The lesson learned is that group credit through clubs may have its limits and alternative avenues and institutions through which to target farmers with credit should be investigated in the future. Major project components, such as credit, should not be implemented without a tracer study of those targeted.
The active participation of the beneficiaries in the design and implementation of the project is essential. There is much more scope for encouraging active participation of beneficiaries in all project activities.