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Implementation Completion Report (ICR) Review - Agricultural Technology Development

1. Project Data:   
Project ID:
Project Name:
Agricultural Technology Development
Research, Agriculture
L/C Number:
Partners Involved:
Swiss Government
Prepared By:
John R. Heath, OEDST
Reviewed By:
Hernan Levy
Group Manager:
Gregory Ingram
Date Posted:

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

Objectives: The project aimed (a) to improve the overall efficiency of research and extension and (b) to directly support the technological development of agriculture in the Bolivian highlands. Components: The project involved (a) establishment of a council (CNIEA) to provide nationwide coordination of research and extension, (b) reorganization of the existing research agency (IBTA), (c) training of IBTA staff, (d) support of research stations, (e) support of selected research programs, (f) strategic studies, (g) external evaluation of CNIEA and IBTA, and (h) expatriate technical assistance, to substitute for local staff on study leave and help strengthen IBTA planning and operations. Component (a) was dropped in 1995 (Third Amendment to Development Credit Agreement). Costs: The total project cost was estimated as US$29.8 million at appraisal; the actual cost was US$28.9. Financing: An IDA credit of US$21 million was approved in March 1990 and closed in October 1998, two years after the original closing date. The balance of the project cost was financed by Switzerland's Technical Cooperation Program (US$3.5 million) and the Bolivian government (US$5.3 million).

3. Achievement of Relevant Objectives:

The objective of improving the overall efficiency of research and extension was not met. CNIEA was never effective and ceased to operate in late 1992. The Agriculture Ministry and IBTA inherited CNIEA's planning and coordinating mandate but failed to do any better. Some efficiency measures proposed at appraisal--staff turnover at IBTA, absenteeisim--appear not to have been qualified and others--- personnel evaluation--were not implemented, leading the ICR to infer that only 50 percent of the target was met. More progress was made with the second objective, IBTA developing strong programs in potatoes, maize, wheat, quinoa and grain legumes, aided by a newly-trained leadership. Impact studies were completed on the quinoa, potatoes and wheat programs. Three researchers received PhDs (37 percent of the appraisal target) and 24 received MScs (114 percent of target). There was 100 percent compliance with the target of producing annual reports on the research program and the production of bulletins and publications amounted to 50 percent of the appraisal estimate. The target for adoption of new technologies was 40 percent realized.

4. Significant Outcomes/Impacts:

The training of IBTA staff helped to raise the quality of the research program, potentially building capacity for future improvements in the national research and extension system. Following the decentralization of IBTA--which transferred responsibility for research to the departments (prefecturas)--project funding played a stop-gap role in keeping a viable research program going while a transition was made to new institutional arrangements. International research centers (CIMMYT, CIP) have stepped in to support the potato, wheat and barley programs, helping to ensure that work begun with project finance will be continued.

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

Project implementation was continuously disrupted by changes of management and staff in key administrative and leadership roles. The government's weak commitment to the project objectives encouraged appointment of staff without the relevant qualifications, and high staff turnover. The potential impact of the training program was less than it might have been because returning trainees were not always well assigned and some left IBTA. Under the 1996 decentralization law, prefecturas are supposed to finance agricultural research but, as of yet, only one of them is meeting its funding obligations. The Bank did not adequately deal at appraisal with the risks inherent in the design of the project, and during implementation was overly tolerant of political interference and poor project management.
6. Ratings:ICROED ReviewReason for Disagreement/Comments
Institutional Dev.:
Bank Performance:
    Same rating, ICRs permitted terminology is different
Borrower Perf.:
Quality of ICR:

7. Lessons of Broad Applicablity:

(a) Because of their long-term nature, research programs need long-term government commitment. (b) Well-defined research programs focusing on critical areas can get results. (c) Management and technical staff selection criteria should be respected. (d) M&E capacity and sound project management are critical for good performance.

8. Audit Recommended?  No


9. Comments on Quality of ICR:

The report is internally consistent and contains a frank account of the project's failings. Within the limitations of the weak monitoring arrangements that were set up, the report seeks to quantify as fully as possible progress toward appraisal benchmarks. The aide-memoire to the ICR misson is very complete and includes a systematic presentation by the borrower. The absence of a plan for future operations is reasonable given the institutional flux. Given the weight attached to the good performance of the research program it would have been appropriate to discuss the results of the impact studies conducted for quinoa, potatoes and wheat: what effect did the research have on farming practices and incomes?

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