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Implementation Completion Report (ICR) Review - Agricultural Services Development Project

1. Project Data:   
Project ID:
Project Name:
Agricultural Services Development Project
Central African Republic
Agricultural Extension, Agriculture
L/C Number:
Partners Involved:
UNDP; France MCD/CFD; France (FAC; CCCE); Germany; Switzerland
Prepared By:
Madhur Gautam
Reviewed By:
Ridley Nelson
Group Manager:
Gregory K. Ingram
Date Posted:

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

Objectives: To strengthen the institutional capacity of the Borrower; improve the productivity, income, and living standards of producers in rural areas; and promote autonomous and self-sustainable development of rural communities.

Components: (i) Institutional support to the Ministry of Rural Development (MDR): to program and monitor public investments and expenditures; studies; rehabilitation of office buildings and facilities; and strengthening technical and operational capability. (ii) Agricultural research: to establish and support the National Agricultural Research Institute (ICRA); formulation and implementation of a research policy; strengthen ICRA's technical capability; execute and monitor priority programs; and production and dissemination of improved seeds. (iii) Rural development field service (ACDA): establish and support a new extension agency; promote village groups and associations; identification and support of activities for community development programs; analysis of production constraints; and training of ACDA staff, villagers and young farmers. (iv) Rural infrastructure: rehabilitate and maintain 1400km of secondary and tertiary rural roads; construct 2000km of tracks for ox-carts; conduct community infrastructure and land improvement works; and rehabilitation and maintenance of 500km of primary rural roads. (v) Rural credit: grant loans to farmers and small entrepreneurs; and promote village associations to mobilize savings and grant loans.
Costs and financing: At appraisal (1992), project costs were anticipated at US$46.9 million, with IDA providing US$25.8 million. Actual total costs are unknown as government contribution and the amount of co-financing from France are not given in the ICR. However, at closing (February, 1999) IDA had financed US$17.1 million of the costs. The remainder of IDA credit was canceled. Cofinancing was also provided by Switzerland (US$0.5 million).

3. Achievement of Relevant Objectives:

The project objectives were only partially met. Implementation got off to a slow start and the project became operational only in 1995. There were further set backs due to civil unrest in 1996-97 and an IDA suspension in 1997-98. After October, 1996, IDA could not supervise the project due to insecurity in the country. As a result of these events, only some of the activities were undertaken. The rehabilitation of MDR office buildings was completed and two studies conducted. ICRA was created, and is now well established; its technical capability strengthened through training and as a result of priority research programs, seed production has improved, particularly for cotton and food crops. ACDA was created, and achieved some results in the creation of small farmers' groups (SFG). The outcomes of agricultural extension, agricultural marketing and training activities were limited. Achievements in rural infrastructure were less than anticipated at 975km of rural roads, 345km of tracks and 105km of primary rural roads. The project also helped construct 82 bridges (target not specified at appraisal). The rural credit component was not implemented as the NGO identified to implement the component left the country shortly after the project started.

4. Significant Outcomes/Impacts:

The project helped in the creation of a new research institution, ICRA, which is now well established, and a new rural development agency, ACDA. It also helped the construction and maintenance of some rural roads. The results, however, are limited compared with the project's objectives.

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

Limited progress was made on institutional development: the programming and monitoring of public investment and expenditures in the rural sector was not completed and MDR's technical and operational capability was not improved. The agricultural research policy was not formulated, and the rural credit component was not implemented. ACDA is too centralized and its operations are expensive. The ICR notes that the project's overall impact has been limited: the benefits from increased SFG incomes and improved roads cannot be quantified, but are limited compared to project objectives; the agricultural production benefits could also not be established nor can they be clearly attributed to the project's activities.

6. Ratings:ICROED ReviewReason for Disagreement/Comments
Institutional Dev.:
    Same rating.
    Overall unlikely, with the exception of ICRA, whose sustainability is likely.
Bank Performance:
    Same rating.
Borrower Perf.:
    Same rating.
Quality of ICR:

7. Lessons of Broad Applicablity:

1. Centralized technical ministries are not likely to be efficient in executing research and extension activities; such activities are likely to be better executed by decentralized and autonomous agencies.
2. Complex institutional development projects are likely to be more successful using a phased approach. For example, this project could have been phased as: (i) addressing institutional set-up or organizational change; (ii) building technical and managerial capacity and providing training; and (iii) implementing research and extension programs and rehabilitation works.
3. Precise indicators are necessary for monitoring and evaluation of project implementation, outcomes, and impacts.
4. IDA's responsibility for operational costs during suspension should be clearly communicated to the Borrower. In this case, the Bank agreed to retroactively cover the operational costs as executing agencies continued to work during the period of IDA suspension.

8. Audit Recommended?  No


9. Comments on Quality of ICR:

The ICR provides a well balanced assessment of the project's implementation and achievements.

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