This evaluation identified that post-project impact included additional benefits that had emerged from the catalytic effect of the pilot project’s initiatives. The introduction of a contracting mechanism generated capacity within the provincial government to engage more with the private sector. This resulted in other initiatives such as trade fairs for local producers, use of service providers for other agriculture sector activities, and use of improved recruitment processes in other sectors. For service providers, many had not considered use of their skills within the private sector for service provision, e.g., past provincial DAL officers, lead farmers, etc. The opportunities under the pilot project led them to start a new enterprise, marketing their skills both independently and through the SSPA. For individual farmers, the training, particularly in post-harvest and enterprise skills, led to participants expanding and diversifying their economic activities for both agricultural and non-agricultural enterprises.
Prior to the pilot project, agricultural service provision suffered from bureaucratic delays that were not appropriate to the seasonal and market requirements for agricultural development. The trust fund modality allowed an accountable and responsive mechanism that is being continued and valued by the provincial DALs and service providers.
The project’s use of contracting out as a new approach to the delivery of support services proved successful. It was relevant, effective, efficient, and benefits were mostly sustained. The contracting approach has improved the access of smallholder farmers to agricultural support services and has strengthened the institutional capacities of the national and provincial DALs and support services providers in implementing contractual service delivery. The approach has gained acceptance with and beyond the project stakeholders. Other provinces and development agencies have already replicated the support services provider model.
The success of the pilot project approach provides a means to improve access to agricultural support services across PNG. More could have been done to capture the learning from the pilot activities and extend them nationwide in PNG. With replication of the pilot project and further devolution to provincial and district DAL's institutions, programs, and budgets, there is potential to improve agricultural quality, quantity, and local economic development. In this regard, the government needs to consider whether to take a strategic approach to private sector involvement in agriculture by adopting the project’s approach in all provinces and districts as was proposed in the NADP, or whether the lessons learned will remain within the pilot provinces.
The PRAP process was widely accepted by the targeted population. It was an effective mechanism for identifying required services but also served to identify local development needs. These included the formation of producer groups for higher level production, consolidation, and marketing. In addition, it led to broader economic support by local leaders for other requirements such as infrastructure and access to inputs. The demand-driven approach to planning identified important elements of success that were not originally in the project design; for instance, the demand for training proved to be a mixture of technical and financial training.
Delegation of implementation responsibility to the resident mission at an early stage of the project cycle is also good practice, provided locally recruited staff have sufficient familiarity with ADB operational and procurement procedures.
In evaluating project ownership, attention must be given during appraisal not only to investment planning priorities but also to whether counterpart funding has been committed, key staff are in place, coordination mechanisms across and within different government levels are working effectively, and an institutional capacity exists to address social and environmental issues affecting the project’s long-term sustainability.
To achieve this goal, funding needs to be committed before loan approval to ensure that such issues will be addressed during implementation, and independent monitoring mechanisms put in place to measure the impact on local communities.
For Asian developing countries with a well developed local capacity in electric power or other infrastructure sectors, partnership with an international consulting firm in the implementation arrangements can be an effective mechanism to enable the transfer of state-of-the-art management and operational practices to national companies and agencies.
ADB could have satisfied itself about project readiness in the key areas of detailed design, safeguards, procurement, and establishment of the project implementation unit.
A flexible approach could have been adopted with adequate supervision support for sector specialists in capacity development activities. Discussions at the technical level should have led to higherlevel discussion as the proposed reforms were far-reaching.
Unrealistic work schedules, poor procurement planning, insufficient implementation details, and loose monitoring targets prolonged implementation. A well-qualified and experienced project team leader and consultants’ familiarity with ADB processes are essential to implement an ADB-financed project.
This would have meant allowing a longer program period for the required depth of reforms. ADB could have envisaged that sector reforms require a longer implementation period and should have focused on a smaller number of specified reform issues.