The just concluded Mid Term Review of the SARD-SC project by the African Development Bank(AFDB) has highlighted some successes in terms of implementation and in the development of the value chains of the four mandate crops- rice, wheat, cassava and maize.
Already, some notable impacts have been recorded in the agricultural policies of some of the Banks’(RMCs)participating countries within two years of the project implementation. Key emerging shifts noted in policy as a result of SARD-SC intervention include youth empowerment; prototype farming tools from Asia are now being fabricated locally by small-to-medium scale entrepreneurs and made available for women to reduce drudgery in rice value chains in Africa. Wheat has been included as a priority in the Nigerian Government’s Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) and domestic production is targeted as a solution for curbing ever growing import dependence and for ensuring food security. Government is changing some policies to boost wheat production in the countries and reduce the importation of wheat grain or flour. These are the cases of Nigeria and Sudan. In Nigeria, the government has put a ban on wheat importation. In Sudan, the government is adopting the IP approach as the national agriculture extension system
In addition, Innovation Platform (IP) approach for technology delivery of new multi-stress, nutrient dense and Mycotoxin tolerant maize varieties have proved successful in the beneficiary countries. Systematic information communication and experiential learning and sharing among project partners are beginning to enhance the quality of interaction, team work and quality of technical and financial reporting. The commendation from the independent consultant, Dr.Yahaya Sabo was that “over the period 2012-2014, the implementation of the SARD-SC project was generally satisfactory, both project outcomes and outputs are rated at least satisfactory. The project has demonstrated the potentials of contributing to the food and nutrition security and poverty reduction objectives in the Bank’s low income Regional Member Countries (RMCs).”
Progress has also been made in generation of agricultural technologies and innovations as well as capacity strengthening of stake holders across the value chain. Despite the progress made, there are still serious challenges in the dissemination and adoption of agricultural technologies and innovations across the value chain. Procurement systems and procedures were strictly complied by the project. Level of accomplishment for all procurements averaged 70% which indicate a satisfactory achievement and major procurements under the project through the force account and other methods have been accomplished and prove successful.
However, the project received some knocks for the physical implementation which was deemed slower than anticipated, due to the late take-up of project activities, delay funding from the Bank and poor commitment of implementing partners in the benefiting countries. Project coordination has been functioning effectively. However, “more effort, understanding and commitment are required from the project implementation units (AfricaRice, ICARDA and IITA) and IITA as the executing agency need to be proactive in ensuring the needed oversight function to the project,” said Dr Sabo.
He also said Institutional collaboration under the project has not yielded any positive result at MTR. Similarly, collaboration with other institutional partners was not rewarding to the project. Dr. Sabo averred that there was need for a comprehensive review of collaboration with partner institutions. “Technical and financial backstopping to NARS was weak across the value chain except for wheat. The project should improve on backstopping to ensure judicious use of project funds.”
The SARD-SC Mid Term Review by the AFDB ended with the Stakeholders Consultation Workshop held from Wednesday 13 to Thursday 14 May 2015, attended by over hundred participants from all the implementing countries of the project. The MTR of the project assessed the outcomes achieved in the implementation of the project and draws lessons for its continuation to 2017. During the workshop stakeholders in conjunction with each of the four Commodity Specialists sat in groups and made recommendations on the way forward for the project. The MTR started on 4 and ended on May 14, 2015. The AFDB officials visited many project sites and witnessed field days to assess the performance of the SARD-SC project.