The African Development Bank(AFDB) has undertaken its third supervisory mission to the IITA/SARD-SC project from 1 to 10 December 2014 in Ibadan. The Members of the team were Dr. Jonas Chianu, Principal Agricultural Economist, the project’s Task Manager, Mr. Baba Abdullai, Principal Procurement Officer and Mr. Olufemi Ojo-Fajuyi, Financial Management Consultant.
In the course of the Mission, the members of the Mission paid a courtesy visit to Dr. Kenton Dashiell, Deputy Director- General, Partnership and Capacity Building, IITA, and briefed him on the Mission’s terms of Reference. The DDG welcomed them and expressed his pleasure on the reported progress of the SARD-SC project. He also assured the team of the readiness of the IITA’s senior management to do all that is necessary to ensure that the project delivers its planned benefits
The members of the mission held several discussions with the various management and project staff from the executing agency(International Institute of Tropical Agriculture) and the Implementing Institutions(AfricaRice and International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas(ICARDA). Most of the staff of the three key project implementing institutions (IITA, AfricaRice and ICARDA) were well represented at the supervisory mission.
The mission activities kicked off with a comprehensive presentation by Dr. Chrys Akem, SARD-SC Project coordinator, on project updates on the four commodity value chains. The presentation addressed all the components as well as procurement and financial executions.
The members of the Mission visited project funded works located at the IITA campus, such as the Maize Warehouse, Maize Cold store, and the Cassava Processing and Equipment Fabrication facilities. They also reviewed relevant project documents on the execution of physical, financial and procurement aspects of the project.
They noted some key observations on project implementation status. However, they have found significant improvements in project implementation and across all commodity value chains-cassava, maize, rice and wheat- and components(technology and innovation generation, technology and innovation dissemination, capacity building and project, management). They also observed that efforts to achieve the target set for the different indicators show that the project is on track. The disbursement rate of the project, they said is currently over 35%. And it is expected to increase further in 2015 after the full cost recovery in 2013 and 2014 would have been settled.
However, some issues were identified:
1.The full Cost Recovery, which was raised in previous mission, was yet to be resolved.
2. Recruitment of MSc and PhD students,
3. Overpayment to Best Initiative for Rural Development in Sierra Leone(BIRD SL) on a contract for Baseline Survey. BIRD SL was said to have been overpaid by US$10,388.74 as contained in the Internal Auditors Report of IITA.
3.Participation of NARES in Lesotho: The mission noted that among the 12 target countries which the wheat component of the project is partnering, the participation of NARES in Lesotho was declining overtime and was below expectation. More so, the US$15,000 advanced to the partner in Lesotho was yet to be accounted for after more than 8 months. There was also the issue of delay in transferring funds to NARES.
The mission suggested timelines for some actions to be undertaken by the different centres. Publication of the Baseline Studies Reports is to be completed by April 2015 while the appointment and replacement of Project Steering Committee member who retired recently should be done before the next PSC meeting next year. Completion of construction of on- going Force Account works at the IITA Headquarters by June 2015 among others.
The ten –day Supervisory Mission was concluded by the signing of the project’s Aide Memoire by Mrs. Hilde koper-Limbourg, Head of Project Administration, on behalf of Dr. Kenton Dashiell, DDG, while Dr. Jonas Chianu signed on behalf of the Bank.