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         Second Agricultural Research

The Senegal Second Agricultural Research Project, supported by Credit 2107-SN for US$18.5 million, was approved in FY90. The project was closed one year behind schedule in FY96 at which time the credit had been fully disbursed. The Implementation Completion Report (ICR) was prepared by the Africa Regional Office. The Borrower’s comments and aide memoire are included as an appendix.

The overall objective of the project was to increase the generation of low risk technology to improve farmers’ and herders’ incomes in a sustainable manner. Specific objectives focused on three major themes: undertaking priority research programs identified in ISRA’s (Institut Senegalais de Recherche Agricoles) five-year research program; improving ISRA’s programming and budgeting systems and personnel and financial management; and getting researchers to be more active in farmers’ fields and less oriented to work on the research stations. Specific activities included support for administrative and financial management; implementation of a research program with emphasis on adaptive and applied research; strengthening of linkages between research, extension, development agencies and farmers; training; establishment of a commercial company to manage revenue-earning activities; and, the establishment of a research reserve fund.

Progress in meeting the project’s objectives was mixed. Two factors contributed: (i) the inability of ISRA to implement project objectives because of its legal status; and, (ii) an overestimation of some of the capabilities of the Government and the implementing agency at appraisal. Measures to modify the legal status of ISRA were still being considered at the time the ICR was completed. The project provided 187 person weeks of short-term external consultants and 15.5 person-months of expatriate consultants to support financial and administrative management. The ICR offers little evidence to suggest that substantial improvement was really achieved. Technology development objectives were partly achieved in spite of a failure by the borrower to release funds to research units in a timely manner, which meant that research activities budgeted under the project had to be sustained from other funding sources. The creation of a commercial company to manage revenue-earning activities and the successful establishment of a research reserve fund did not take place.

The ICR rates project outcome as marginally satisfactory, sustainability as uncertain, institutional development as negligible and Bank performance as satisfactory. The Operations Evaluation Department (OED) agrees with these ratings. However, OED is concerned about the continued failure to improve financial and administrative management and to introduce the reforms necessary to support achievement of these key project objectives. Another concern, with regard to sustainability, is the continued strong dependence on external assistance from bilateral donors (although such support seems to be forthcoming for the near future).

Apart from the well known lessons on the need for an appropriate human resource policy, particularly staff incentives, and the need for building up the managerial capacity of research institutes, two lessons emerge from this project. One is that against a backdrop of severe shortage of public funds, the project design should pay particular attention to the optimal size of the research infrastructure and staff to ensure that the research system can be developed in a sustainable manner. The second is that in developing a research agenda, complementary post-harvest activities should be considered in order to avoid potential constraints on the gains from increased productivity resulting from agricultural research.

The ICR is satisfactory. An audit is planned.

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