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Implementation Completion Report (ICR) Review - Atlantico Agricultural Development

1. Project Data:   
Project ID:
Project Name:
Atlantico Agricultural Development
Costa Rica
Perennial Crops, Agriculture
L/C Number:
Partners Involved:
Prepared By:
Ridley Nelson, OEDST
Reviewed By:
Ronald Parker
Group Manager:
Gregory Ingram
Date Posted:

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

Total Planned Project Costs US$32.0 m (after loan amendment); Total Actual Project Costs US$27.23 m; IBRD Loan (original amount) US $26.0 m; IBRD Loan (actual) US $20.62 m. There were three extensions with the project closing three years late, on June 30, 1997.

The project objective was to expand production of agricultural export commodities from the project area through the provision of rural road infrastructure, land titles to improve access to credit, and the provision of credit itself. In the credit component the aim was to cover a significant share of poor farmers.

There were three main components: (a) a credit component to finance the development of 7000 ha of cocoa and coconut plantations, a component which was substantially reduced in size due to very large price falls ; (b) a land titling component to issue about 1,500 land titles, a target which was later revised upwards twice; (c) a rural roads component, initially for construction or rehabilitation of about 105 km of feeder roads, later greatly expanded to rehabilitation of 780 km and maintenance of about 1640 km.

3. Achievement of Relevant Objectives:

Despite a number of initial design flaws, the project development objective was largely achieved, although the export achievements cannot be attributed solely to the project. Over the project period the volume of production of traditional export crops in the project area more than doubled and that of nontraditional export crops tripled. The credit component financed only a little over half of the original target in hectares, and less than 20% in number of farms because of a bias away from small farms. however, the land titling target was substantially increased and by June 1997 had reached 6120 titles. The rural roads component achieved substantially more than its original objective, indeed the project became largely a rural roads project.

4. Significant Outcomes/Impacts:

The rehabilitation of 780 km of rural roads and the maintenance of about 1640 km, and with substantial community involvement, was a significant achievement, as also was the issuing of 6120 titles by 1997. The ICR suggests that the rural roads achievement improved access to input and product distribution centers, opened up new possibilities for high value crops, and contributed to increasing access to health, education, and other services, particularly after natural disasters struck.

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

The project had a number of quite serious short-comings which could have been corrected by better Bank and borrower performance at various points in the project cycle. These shortcomings included: 1. Poor appraisal and very slow project startup resulting in the project taking three years longer than planned. 2. A constant problem of insufficient budgetary resources. 3. Inefficient procurement and contracting procedures. 4. The Ministry of Transport and Public Work's inability to perform effectively as the road components executing agency. 5. The lack of ownership of the credit component in the National Bank of Costa Rica. 6. The failure to focus on the smaller and poor farmers in the credit component. 7. Implementation capacity and jurisdiction became a problem in the roads component.

6. Ratings:ICROED ReviewReason for Disagreement/Comments
UnsatisfactoryMarginally Satisfactory
    ICR text rated marginally unsatisfactory. On balance the impressive achievements of the roads component (53% of costs) with substantial community involvement together with the land titling achievements, which will enable wider credit access in future, outweighs the weak credit component, the serious and persistent problems with implementation, and the failure to target the poor in the credit component.
Institutional Dev.:
Not ApplicableModest
    While the ICR rates ID as not applicable because ID was not a project objective, we would consider the community participation in the roads component to be a significant institutional achievement for that portion of the project.
Bank Performance:
    Marginally unsatisfactory, there were certainly a number of positive aspects, but appraisal was deficient. Supervision was commendably flexible but, as noted by the ICR, weak earlier on social issues.
Borrower Perf.:
    Marginally unsatisfactory, as noted in the ICR there were certainly a number of positive aspects, especially with some of the implementing agencies.
Quality of ICR:

7. Lessons of Broad Applicablity:

1. Project design should include an explicit analysis of the target group, the justification for selection, and a description of the targeting instruments. 2. In a project with a credit component, it is essential to involve the participating bank, including the local branches, in project preparation in order to develop ownership. 3. Institutional implementation capacity evaluation is especially important for rural roads components because state agencies may give higher priority to national highways over smaller and more scattered rural programs. 4. Active community participation in a rural roads maintenance program can result in considerable efficiencies and cost savings.

8. Audit Recommended?  No

          Why?  The 'yes' here is not because we believe the project is a high priority for audit overall but to signal and keep open the option of looking at the community participation roads element for broader lessons of experience on that issue.

9. Comments on Quality of ICR:

Good analysis of the issues and lessons. Could have attempted a more complete economic analysis. Inadequate coverage of future project operation - as in many ICRs it was assumed to be only relevant if there was to be a follow-on project - but the intention is that in that section of the ICR the on-going operation of the project in question should be covered.

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