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         Agricultural extension project

The Togo Agricultural Extension project, supported by Credit 1808-TO, for US$9.7 million, was approved in FY88. The Implementation Completion Report (ICR) was prepared by the FAO/World Bank Cooperative Program. The borrower's brief comments are annexed to the ICR and note that project operations were adversely affected by poor design. The project was closed in FY94, one year later than planned. A balance of US$4.85 million (50 percent of the credit ) was canceled.

The main objective of the project was to improve agricultural extension services provided by the regional agricultural directorates with the long-term objective of creating a unified national extension service. The main components of the project were: (i) reorganization and strengthening of extension services using the basic principles of the Training and Visit (T&V) system; (ii) provision of inservice training to extension staff; (iii) improvement of links between extension and research; (iv) establishment of regional Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) units; and (v) improvement of financial management at the center and in the regions. The project provided finance for: (i) incremental national staff; (ii) purchase of vehicles and equipment and limited civil works; (iii) incremental operating costs; (iv) establishment and rehabilitation of 12 small sites for experiments; and (v) technical assistance.

The project made little progress with the reorganization and strengthening of regional extension services. Project implementation was constrained from the outset by a lack of counterpart funds and from mid-1992 by severe socio-political unrest. The institutional arrangements for project organization and management were badly designed with no clear line of command and key senior posts were left vacant for long periods. Training was spasmodic and the links between extension and research remained weak. No satisfactory monitoring and evaluation system was established and financial management remained unsatisfactory. Technical assistance was also ineffective.

The Operations Evaluation Department (OED) agrees with the ICR in rating the overall outcome of the project as unsatisfactory, sustainability as unlikely and institutional development as negligible. In accord with the ICR, the performance of the Bank is rated as satisfactory. Regular supervision missions provided training and support in the key facets of T&V extension and attempted to resolve institutional weakness in financial management and procurement.

The project offers some lessons with wide applicability: (i) improved farm productivity depends on effectively coordinating extension advice with the supply of production inputs, rural finance and marketing_national extension projects, especially those based on the T&V principles, should take this into account; (ii) although the borrower has the ultimate responsibility for the selection of technical assistance staff, the Bank should be satisfied with each candidate's qualifications, experience and skills; and (iii) the responsibilities of project management must be clearly defined and detailed from the outset of projects, especially when responsibility for the technical service is retained at the center while implementation is decentralized.

The ICR is satisfactory. It provides a clear assessment of the achievements and failures of the project, acknowledging that farmers' problems were not addressed. Further support for extension and other agricultural services will be provided by a new project, to be appraised in FY96. The new project is, inter alia, being designed to assist farmers' organizations to participate in the management and financing of research and extension services. No audit is planned.

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