The project implemented an integrated model to agricultural productivity growth, combining infrastructure development with the institutional development of farmer organizations and capacity development of farmers. Strengthening of the farmer professional associations and water users’ associations has provided the institutional mechanism for farmers to take over the operation and maintenance responsibility for small project facilities, including applying the cost-recovery scheme with the user-pay principle. Regular trainings to farmers in integrated pest management, soil testing and balanced fertilization application, water-saving technologies, and marketing, enhanced their productivity skills and capacities, making it more likely for income benefits to be sustained across time. Along with the participatory approach to infrastructure management, continued income increases will foster the sustainability of the project.
This project supported the comprehensive agricultural development (CAD) program of the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) government to enhance national food security and employed a holistic approach to address common sector issues. It covered six provinces and 68 counties and consolidated county activities into provincial subprojects by applying a single integrated CAD model in all the counties. The project lending modality enabled the consolidation of the large number of activities scattered across six provinces into six provincial subprojects. However, it required the processing of an unusually large number of contracts (657), which was helped by the preparation and use of standardized bidding documents. Reporting requirements, including on safeguards were streamlined, and an integrated management information system was set up at the State Office for Comprehensive Agricultural Development. Adoption of a uniform integrated model and streamlining of procurement and reporting processes proved instrumental in the project’s success.
The impact and outcome indicators identified in this project’s original design and monitoring framework, i.e., absolute increases in grain output and farm income at the impact level, and yield growth and irrigation water use efficiency at the outcome level, comprised results that were attributable to many factors other than the project. While the comparison of indicators between the project and non-project areas in the provinces supported the positive impacts of the project, it was not possible to isolate the project’s impact from the other factors without baseline information and a precise definition of control group. In addition to well-defined indicators, future projects should also clearly define the baseline and control groups and monitor and assess impacts through periodic sample surveys to reliably evaluate their performance and contributions to changes across time and at project completion.
Eight civil works packages under national competitive bidding were procured successfully using Viet Nam's e-procurement system. All the e-procured packages achieved high efficiency with an average of 50 days end-to-end procurement time. However, there were only one or two bids per package. This may be because of the new procurement procedure but may also reflect small contract values (less than $1 million per contract).
All the works contracts under this project were supervised by consulting engineers appointed to ensure that detailed engineering designs were followed, and contractors’ claims were legitimate. However, the supervision of some subprojects was insufficient to ensure timely completion and handover of fully operational, quality works. Of note were (i) a nonfunctioning pressurized piped irrigation system in Cu M’Gar, Dak Lak; and (ii) a poorly constructed irrigation system in Ea Soup, Dak Lak.
During the completion review field visits, it was observed that irrigation facilities are better maintained than low-volume rural roads. This is because budget allocations to irrigation management companies provide for a minimum level of service and people are engaged on a part-time basis to maintain canals and keep gates in operating condition. In the case of low volume rural roads, not only are commune funds more limited than provincial sources, the institutional structure to maintain alignments is also inadequate. As a result, commune people’s committees often engage voluntary groups (youth or women’s associations) to carry out basic maintenance and vegetation control at a scale that requires mechanical intervention. Without a formal organization and institutional arrangement to do the job, the maintenance of rural roads is often left undone or done too late.
With the tremendous pressure on Viet Nam’s provincial administrations to achieve economic development, investments have tended to prioritize the expansion of PRI with designs that are often based on outdated standards and cost norms. Irrigation and road designs thus typically result in lower capacity with structural weaknesses, consequently requiring repair and/or upgrade shortly after commissioning. For example, significant periodic maintenance was required for the subprojects in Buon Tria–Buon Triet communes of Lak district within just 2 years after commissioning. However, due to the limited revenue generation capacity of provincial governments, it is not always possible to meet the operation and maintenance (O&M) costs of the project assets. Given this, it is of great importance that PRI design standards adequately address current risk factors, particularly under expected climate change scenarios and the changing land-use patterns.
There was a delay of 1.5 years in project completion. This can be attributed to the 13-month delay in mobilizing the service providers, which affected social mobilization and the award of subproject grants. Advanced contracting of the consultants during project design would have avoided startup delays.
Banks are heavily dependent on collateral, and rural property are not readily accepted by banks. Future agriculture value chain projects should include such a component to help farmers access formal finance.
Project areas were hit by extreme weather events such as hailstorms and high winds, which were not typical for those areas. The greenhouses were able to protect the project farmers’ crops when the crops of other farmers were wiped out completely. With climate change predictions forecasting increasing frequency of extreme weather events, developing insurance schemes along with promoting climate-resilient infrastructure and technology will be important to cover for losses and damages from extreme weather events.
While the project made it mandatory for agro-processors to get registered and follow government food standards, federalism has complicated the jurisdiction of the three tiers of government in developing an effective and coordinated quarantine and food quality control system. Future similar projects need to give greater attention to this, channeling lessons and good practices from other countries and ADB projects as appropriate.
The commodity-specific multi-stakeholder platforms established by the project brought together producers and processors along with other value chain actors. These need to be sustained and may be replicated as appropriate in other parts of Nepal as well as in other countries to accelerate the development of agricultural value chains that will be beneficial especially for small and medium farmers.
Limited availability of local inputs and technical know-how has affected the implementation and sustainability of this project. Specifically, farmers faced difficulties in acquiring certified seeds and materials for the construction of greenhouses, screen houses, and drip irrigation because of the limited number of input supply companies in Nepal. Operation and maintenance of plants and machinery also relied heavily on technical manpower imported from India. The experience highlights the critical need for focused public sector investments to help input supply businesses innovate and expand and build technical knowhow domestically to promote agriculture commercialization in Nepal.
The outlay for agribusiness grant facility (AGF) established by the project rose by 52.7% during implementation. This resulted from a larger scale of agribusiness investments than anticipated, reflecting improved investor confidence during the post-insurgency period. Matching grants to the AGF from ADB, the government of Nepal, and the Netherlands Development Agency, SNV, further boosted investor confidence. For every $1 spent, the AGF leveraged $1.65 of private investment.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Agricultural support provided to dehkan farms was limited to the duration of the project. No mechanisms were put in place to ensure sustainability of benefits beyond the project’s life. The activities of demonstrations farms were very helpful to dehkan farms in increasing productivity, but these were stopped after project completion. Further, most of these demonstration farms were distributed to individual and family dehkan farms after completion of the project. Agricultural extension services are in the nature of merit goods, with positive externalities to the society. Hence mechanisms should have been established for the provision of these services on an ongoing basis to ensure sustainability of productivity gains.
Transferring management of tertiary irrigation and drainage systems to beneficiaries as a means for participatory water management was appropriate and in line with IWRM principles. However, the phasing of cost recovery and measures needed for WUAs to become sustainable should have been made clear at the outset. Measures for achieving full cost recovery should have been identified early in the implementation process.
While it was established as part of project management, M&E was discontinued after the PMO closed. Hence, project specific data cannot be provided for evaluating long-term outcomes, impact, and poverty reduction.