|1. Project Data:
|Agricultural Extension and Training Project|
|Agricultural Extension, Agriculture|
|Unnamed bilateral donors at appraisal|
|Christopher D. Gerrard, OEDST|
|2. Project Objectives, Financing, Costs, and Components:|
The overall objective of the project was to increase farmer productivity by strengthening operational institutions and establishing systems for managing the national extension service, and by providing training to facilitate improved delivery of these services. At appraisal the project had four components:
(1) strengthening the national extension service, in accordance with T&V principles, to provide adequate support for front-line staff and regular visits to farmers;
(2) a training program to upgrade the management, technical, and communications skills of all extension staff;
(3) improving research-extension linkages; and
(4) increasing the availability of improved seeds.
The project also emphasized meeting the needs of women farmers.
At appraisal, the estimated costs were $US 31.05 million, of which IBRD was to finance $21 million, the government $7.09 million, and unspecified bilateral donors $2.96 million. Final projects costs were $26.91 million, with IBRD providing $20.99 million, and the government $5.92 million.
During the MTR, the scope of the project was extended from 6 to all 10 provinces, and the approaches to components (3) and (4) were re-defined. Component (3) now focused on training both research and extension staff with respect to participatory diagnostic skills to identify priorities together with farmers. Component (4) now focused on private sector participation in seed multiplication.
|3. Achievement of Relevant Objectives:|
The early years of the project were characterized by a high degree of centralization, a lack of delegation to the provinces, weak financial management, procurement delays, high unit costs of the extension system, and non-performance of the research component. Notwithstanding this inauspicious start, project performance improved after the MTR, during which the Bank and the government re-defined the project objectives, addressed issues with regard to all four components of the project, and agreed upon a detailed action plan to improve the quality of implementation. The government also replaced the national coordinator and several key staff at this time. All of this also coincided with devaluation of the CFA franc and the resulting improvement in the rural terms of trade, which also had a positive impact on the project. By project closing, the government succeeded in establishing a new management system for the extension service, replacing the multitude of extension services operated by now defunct parastatal agencies. An impact evaluation in 1995 and a beneficiary assessment in 1997 provided some evidence of the positive impact of this on farmers' productivity.
|4. Significant Outcomes/Impacts:|
(1) Good progress was made with respect to in-service training of extension staff. The project organized from 500 to 800 fortnightly training sessions and between 40 and 65 monthly technical review meetings every year.
(2) The Ministries of Agriculture and Livestock introduced a unified agricultural extension system, and adopted a comprehensive agricultural extension policy in September 1997 (the second last year of the project), which defined the basic principles, methodology, and institutional framework for the delivery of extension services in Cameroon. Based on principles developed within the project -- such as cost effectiveness, professionalism, single line of command, regular and continuous training of extension staff, close farmer/extension/research linkages, and support to farmers' organizations -- it emphasizes the importance of the extension service addressing farmers' constraints.
(3) The project has opened the door to further evolution in the institutional framework for agricultural extension. As recommended by QAG Quality at Entry Assessment of the follow-up project, this should include greater use of mass media, contracting out of extension, and empowerment of farmers.
|5. Significant Shortcomings (include non-compliance with safeguard features):|
(1) The project is neither financially nor institutionally sustainable without further support from the Bank or other donors. The Bank provided 100 percent financing of recurrent costs throughout the implementation period. A large majority of staff within the Ministries of Agriculture and Livestock still have no clear task descriptions or work programs.
(2) The efforts to address the need of women farmers fell short. While the number of female front-line staff increased from 7 to 51 (out of a total of 1,446 front-line staff), and from 22 to 86 in the overall extension system, this was not enough to address women-specific constraints and needs of women farmers.
(3) The monitoring and evaluation system was weak, overly bureaucratic, and failed to generate timely and reliable data for managers and decision-makers. The lack of a baseline study has made it very difficult to assess the impact of the program accurately. Only during the last year of the project did the government make a serious effort, prodded by the Bank, to simplify and improve the M/E system.
|6. Ratings:||ICR||OED Review||Reason for Disagreement/Comments|
Of the four components, only the training component can be rated as satisfactory. Other achievements were slow in coming and qualified. See above.
These ratings are largely equivalent.
QAG, for example, has identified further and significant financial and institutional changes that will be necessary in order to achieve sustainability.
The ICR rated this as marginally satisfactory (p. 11). Borrower performance was weak at the beginning and only improved towards the very end of the project.
Quality of ICR:
|7. Lessons of Broad Applicablity:|
(1) Even though it represents a significant proportion of Ministry of Agriculture expenditures, an agricultural extension project alone cannot drive the reform process, including decentralization and civil service reform. The success of the project was hampered by the failure of the government to address the broader issues of reform, such as the respective roles of the central government, local governments, the private sector, and civil society in rural development, and by constraints arising from the rules and norms of the Cameroonian civil service.
(2) Genuine reform in which extension management and staff become accountable to the ultimate beneficiaries (the farmers) is a long-term process. On balance, the Bank's commitment to finance 100% of the recurrent costs of the extension service during the life of the project probably hindered this long-term reform process. To make extension more demand-driven, the follow-on project is now addressing sub-contracting of extension services, more emphasis on the mass media, and more participatory approaches to service delivery.
(3) Simply recruiting more female extension workers is not sufficient for addressing the needs of women farmers. Special efforts need to be made to better understand gender specific problems in agricultural production and to overcome cultural barriers against effective contact between male extension staff and women farmers.
(4) Conducting a baseline study, independent surveys to assess the impact of extension on the ground, and an M/E system capable of delivering accurate a timely information are critical to improving the quality of public extension services.
|8. Audit Recommended? Yes|
Why? There is a significant divergence between the ICR and OED ratings for the project.
|9. Comments on Quality of ICR:|
The ICR was satisfactory, but with the following shortcomings:
(1) There is a disconnect between the written text of the ICR and the project ratings. For example, the assessment of the overall outcome as satisfactory was based primarily on the 1995 impact evaluation and the 1997 beneficiary assessment. Yet there was no M/E baseline study to facilitate an accurate assessment of the impact of the project.
(2) There was no aide-memoire in relation to the completion mission.
(3) There were no borrower comments on the ICR.