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Implementation Completion Report (ICR) Review - Agricultural Services Project

1. Project Data:   
Project ID:
Project Name:
Agricultural Services Project
Agricultural Extension, Agriculture
L/C Number:
Partners Involved:
Prepared By:
Jock R. Anderson, OEDST
Reviewed By:
Susan Stout
Group Manager:
Roger Slade
Date Posted:

2. Project Objectives, Financing, Costs, and Components:

The program’s long-term objective was to promote the sustained increase in farmers’ and pastoralists’ productivity and incomes through technological change. The specific objectives of the program’s first phase (the project) were to harmonize the different extension activities in use in the country around a system-based approach and to improve the links between extension and research. The project included two main components: (a) the restructuring of the agricultural and livestock extension services of the Ministry of Rural Development (MDR); and (b) the strengthening of MDR’s analytical and policy-making capacity. A third and more minor component was the strengthening of producer organizations. Here the objective was less to strengthen farmers' organizations than to sensitize farmers' organizations to the new extension methods and win their support. The project was to be implemented over a four-year period and expected to cost US$20.2 million equivalent. Financing was to be provided by IDA (US$17.1 million or 85 percent of total project costs) and the Government (US$3.1 million or 15 percent of project costs). It was agreed that IDA finance the operation with a first phase over five years in the amount of SDR13.0 million (US$17.1 million equivalent), and the credit was approved on March 22, 1990. The Credit was closed on December 31, 1997, 36 months after its original closing date of December 31, 1994. It is expected to be fully disbursed, and the last disbursement was to have taken place in June 1998. Total costs were US20.9 million, allocated mainly to operating costs (39%), training (15%), equipment etc. (12%) and salaries (7%).

3. Achievement of Relevant Objectives:

The project partially met its objectives. It harmonized the different extension approaches in the country and did the groundwork for improved collaboration between extension and research. It was, however, able to reach only about one-third of the planned number of farmers; it failed to significantly strengthen producer organizations; and it had only limited success in strengthening the analysis and policy-making capacity of the Ministry of Rural Development. Prior to the project, agricultural extension services were largely ineffective, except for those of Senegal River Development Authority and the Cotton Development Agency. In addition, only about 10-15 percent of farmers then had access to extension services. An extensive three-tier training program was put in place. The extension approach was based on the T&V system and used two main tools: Contact Groups (CGs) and demonstration plots. Farmers’ participation in CGs declined with time because their initial expectations were not met, i.e., extension messages did not fully address their main constraints (in particular, they were more interested in access to inputs such as fertilizer and credit), and also because the CGs were not based on existing socially connected community groups. The farmer literacy component, however, did well.

4. Significant Outcomes/Impacts:

The establishment and improvement of research-extension linkages was one of the project’s main successes.

Strengthening of Producer Organizations. The objectives for this component were partially achieved. The training of farm leaders sub-component failed to achieve its (very limited and ill-defined) objective of sensitizing farm leaders and producer organizations to (and winning their active support in favor of) the new extension methods.

5. Significant Shortcomings (include non-compliance with safeguard features):

An Agricultural Policy Unit’s ability to effectively supervise projects remained weak, as did its ability to do impact and financial evaluations. Two factors contributed to this result. The first factor was an overly centralized financial management system, which led to delays in the availability of project funds at the operational level and reduced flexibility to reallocate funds to successful activities. This led to chronic underutilization of the budget and shortfalls in the implementation of programmed activities. The second factor was poor technical management and supervision by project staff, which limited supervision to administrative aspects.

6. Ratings:ICROED ReviewReason for Disagreement/Comments
Institutional Dev.:
    No sustainability is in sight without continued high levels of external assistance
Bank Performance:
    Poor supervision (too short, insufficiently specialized staff resources)
Borrower Perf.:
    Weak efforts to implement (ICR para. 32)
Quality of ICR:

7. Lessons of Broad Applicablity:

Ensuring sustained responsiveness and efficiency of extension services through a top-down centralized system is hardly, if at all, possible. It requires the commitment and effective participation, at all levels, of beneficiaries in decision-making and control.
The identification and prioritization of farmers’ needs and constraints is a prerequisite for the success of an extension program. This needs to be done with the help of a multidisciplinary team that can guide the farmers in identifying what their key needs and constraints are. A field extension agent is not the most appropriate person to carry out this task, as the types of problems that require attention are typically complex.
Contact groups are a very effective instruments for two-way communication in a technology diffusion system. However, the group concept needs to be reviewed. Experience under this project has shown that criteria for the establishment of such groups need to reflect existing social structures and/or commonality of economic purpose.

8. Audit Recommended?  No


9. Comments on Quality of ICR:

Careful and comprehensive. Weighting scheme for components of ratings of Bank and Borrower not immediately obvious.

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