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         Agricultural Services

The Agricultural Services Project, supported by Credit 2026-RW for US$19.9 million was approved in FY89 and, after an eighteen month delay, the credit was closed on December 31, 1996. US$9.5 million was canceled. The Implementation Completion Report (ICR) was prepared by the Africa Regional Office. The borrowere did not prepare an evaluation of the project, but therir comments have been taken into account in finalizing the ICR.

The main objectives of the project were to improve delivery of extension services to farmers; strengthen adaptive and on-farm research; strengthen production and distribution of selected seeds; and promote greater private sector participation in the marketing of agricultural inputs and produce. The project replicated, on a broader geographic scale, the pilot experience under the IDA-financed Gitarama Agricultural Production project. To achieve its objectives, the project was expected to finance, over a five year period, the following components: reorganization and streamlining of the extension services, based on the T&V extension principle; strengthening of adaptive and on-farm research; support for monitoring and evaluation; strengthening of seed production and distribution; and promotion of private sector participation in input supply and marketing. Following the first supervision mission in 1991, the project’s geographic scope was expanded to cover eight prefectures instead of the five originally planned. The proposed support for seed production and distribution was also reoriented away from direct public sector involvement to support for private participation.

While project objectives were relevant, they were too ambitious given weak absorptive and implementation capacity and lack of practical consensus. The project did not achieve its overarching objective of improving agricultural productivity. Only partial progress was made in improving institutional arrangements for agricultural services delivery, while the strengthening of seed supply and distribution systems, and the promotion of private sector development were not achieved. Violence and instability caused by civil war caused an exceptionally difficult implementation environment and mid-term review attempts to reorganize and refocus the project were thwarted by the war of April 1994 which brought project implementation to a complete halt. After the war, the closing date was extended as part of a post-conflict reconstruction effort. However, sector rehabilitation and rebuilding of institutions proved difficult to achieve as the effort to jump start activities in a complex situation was severely underestimated.

The ICR rates the outcome as highly unsatisfactory, sustainability as unlikely, institutional development impact as modest, and bank performance as unsatisfactory. OED agrees with these ratings, except for institutional development impact which the ICR rated as modest and OED rates as negligible. Although some ID impact was achieved initially during implementation, the 1994 war decimated the extension staff and only 30% remain in post. Therefore any institutional gains will have been lost.

The key lessons are that pilot operations with clear benchmarks and indicators should be used for improving knowledge about a difficult operating environment as well as for building stakeholder ownership; and the Bank should continuously assess operating risks and take appropriate action to mitigate these in situations characterized by adverse political and security conditions.

The ICR is satisfactory, providing good coverage of important subjects, and sound analysis supported by clear evidence.

No audit is planned.

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