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More Reflections by Madagascar Team on Field Visit in Guangxi, China

Posted by Roxanna Samii Wednesday, September 30, 2009 1 comments

– China/IFAD South-South Cooperation Seminar
28 September

The visited zone is like Malagasy’s landscape. There are many similarities in term of climate, vegetation, topography and crops cultivated such as rice, cassava, potato, sugar cane, … However, the whole arable soils having farming vocation are cultivated with bamboo even in a slope.

The IFAD project in the west of Guangxi intervenes in very remote areas. The project adopted an integrated approach. In spite of the high cost of the infrastructures and the funding by beneficiary ratio, the project gave a vital importance of fighting against poverty in this zone where a very vulnerable ethnic minority lives. For example, the Chinese Government solved the problem of drinkable water conveyance several villages of the Karst zone inhabited by minority ethnic groups, through an innovating experiment of drinkable water conveyance starting from underground water. The wiliness and implication of the Chinese Government are strong in term of investment, coaching and monitoring.

Implemented activities met the needs for the vulnerable groups: breeding of goats for the people old, road building for poor remote villages, popularization of biogas combined with the use of the residues of the digester like organic fertilizer, watershed development of the slopes of hill by the plantation of bamboos, eucalyptus and pines, equipped the village by the construction of community infrastructures like the sports ground and the rest area, the installation of the rural tracks, the improvement of the incomes by diversification like the culture of bamboos and the improvement of the techniques of breeding of black goats.

It is noted during the field visit that the living conditions of the rural population are really improved: construction of more comfortable dwelling house equipped with a biogas system; the majority of the household have the satellite television and there is the food self-sufficiency of the households as well. The children go to the school and the population profits from an access to the medical care of proximity.

The efforts carried out by the beneficiaries are impressive: plantation of bamboos on the slopes of mountains and participation in the building work of roads and infrastructures under difficult conditions. But there is also the contribution of the members of the community having migrated towards the cities partly ensures also the financing infrastructures. That ensures a income transfer from the economic growth to the rural areas.

In addition, the field visit allowed to note the development of the electrification of the remote rural zones. Almost the whole of the households in China profits from electricity. And the peasants also live in full safety.

We could appreciate the improvement of the standard of living of the minorities and we were convinced that all of them will be able ensure food security for the future.

Sun Yinhong
IFAD Country Presence Officer

Exploring Development Realities on the Ground

Posted by Roxanna Samii Tuesday, September 29, 2009 1 comments

– China/IFAD South-South Cooperation Seminar Field Visit
27 September

The participants came with much excitement and anticipation to Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, a southern province neighboring Viet Nam, for a 2-day field visit to observe the rural development and poverty reduction realities on the ground. Participants had the chance to experience the vastness of the country, as well the geo-climatic diversities…. flying for 3.5 hours in Airbus flight and shift from Beijing at 24C to 35C of Nanning. The field visit site was deliberately selected in consideration of the climatic similarity with the countries of the participants.

The first day field visit was made to the villages funded by government poverty reduction and rural development program, the so called “new socialist countryside”. The new socialist countryside construction program was a recent endeavor by the government to support the development of rural areas, especially the poor areas, by pooling funds to build local infrastructures such as rural road, electricity and water supply project, education and health facilities etc. Meanwhile various sector departments also bring with other supports such as subsidized credit for income generating, developing crop industry etc. to completely upgrade the livelihood of the villages and set example of new socialist countryside. Coordinated efforts and financing are prerequisite for success of the new socialist countryside construction.

This development model also falls under the government strategy of concentrated poverty reduction, by targeting selected Karst areas where poverty incidence is higher in the case of Guangxi, pooling and advancing poverty reduction funds aimed for several year’s fiscal allocation to be used in a short period to get infrastructure improved, so as to create condition for other income generation opportunities to be attained.
The second day visit was made to an IFAD project county, namely LongAn, which is one of the 10 poor project counties jointly supported by IFAD, WFP and the government. Participants visited a mountain village, where terracing, water harvesting, micro-credit support for income generating activities mainly in cattle fattening were supported. Located in karst area, the village had difficulties in getting drinking water especially during the dry season, land was also very limited and it became very important to retain the limited soil among the stones in order to maintain food production. With the support of the project and active community participation, the villagers constructed water tanks both for drinking and irrigation purposes, terraced their land, constructed shelters for livestock and started microcredit project to raise cattle, life of villagers considerably improved since then.

The participants visited household biogas system, the livestock fattening facilities, the facilities of rural households and exchanged face to face with beneficiaries the process of their changes.
It was strongly felt that learning from field visit is so much persuading and impressive, in comparison with in-door sharing that usually happened through workshops and seminars.

Main learning points as I can summarize:

  • Government led poverty reduction strategy with various sector agencies participating and coordinating.
  • Infrastructure improvement for basic livelihood improvement: road, water supply, electricity, health and education facilities
  • Secure income source in sustainable manner. For example in the visited project areas, development of crops suiting the local conditions: growing bamboo, raising animals such as goats and cattle were good income sources
  • Community participation in terms of setting their priorities, implementing the construction by contributing labor and monitoring, follow up management.
  • Focusing on the inclusive targeted poor areas, with multi-sector interventions and investment coordinated

Some reflections from participants:

”With respect to the field visits

  • First, is the development of the roads infrastructure. While this had been highlighted in the first presentation in Beijing, I think for some of us from the less developed countries we could not imagine that you could be 100% connected. The highways are something else. On the rural access road, really were impressive. Take my country for instance, nobody could be living in those villages because they would simply be inaccessible!!
  • the other interventions again appear to be quite well thought out. When one sees the growth that these villages have witnessed in the last few years, it would not be a wonder for them to "catch up" with the rest of the country in about a decade or so.
  • the first village was so impressive in the level of thought that went into it: to think of a gazebo, over a water pond, where the senior citizens could relax in a cool environment .... a simple idea but with wonderful results. “
    (King’ori, Wathobio, Project Advisor for Rwanda)

“ Our main learning points are:

  • Implementation arrangements are well designed
  • Participatory evaluation is great idea
  • People’s attitude towards project implementation is very positive… cause of success
  • The WFP/IFAD joint project should be a good model for replication in developing countries. “
    (Viet Nam Team)

by Sun Yinhong
IFAD Country Presence in China

Social Reporting from Around the World

Posted by Chase Palmeri Saturday, September 26, 2009 0 comments

It is great for us in the IFAD Asia and the Pacific Division to hear from our colleagues in China this week and to see how the IFAD Social Reporting Blog has taken on a life of its own, as has the IFAD KM Strategy since it was launched in April 2007. Blogger statistics show 133 posts since the Social Reporting Blog was created to report from Bangkok and the Asia Performance Review Workshop last March. The blog itself has become a form of South-South collaboration, reporting from Mauritania, Mauritius, Nairobi, the Gambia, Rwanda, and Nigeria (to name a few).

The most recent social reporting is from China, but there we find Madgascar back on the blog and into the knowledge sharing scene again. And, while Roxy, maybe our most passionate KM supporter has been the one to actually post the blogs from China, (thanks, Roxy) I suspect that Sun Yinhong, our China Country Presence Officer, pictured here, and Thomas Rath the Country Programme Manager for China are behind the blog entries. Thanks to our colleagues in China for reaching out to tell us about what you are doing. Please tell us more. I, for one, remember Yasmina Oodally's post about octopus fishing and marketing from Rodrigues in Mauritius and how the visiting women from Madagascar were especially interested in octopus drying technques for their people back home fishing octopus in Tamatave. Any women from Madagascar in China on this visit? Any prospects for sharing technology for drying octopus?

China/IFAD South-South Cooperation Seminar Day 2
24 September

On this second day of the Seminar, participants were introduced the agricultural development achievements, the contributing policies as well challenges and prospects for China’s agriculture by Dr. Jikun Huang, Director for China Center for Agricultural Policy. Dr. Cao Wendao from the World Bank China Office presented the climate challenges context and implications on agriculture and environment, while introduced the experiences gained from decade long implementation of climate smart rural development and poverty reduction approached in the Loess Plateau.

Participants discussed with great interest at the seminar the China experience as well challenge of maintaining smallholder agriculture and the learning for countries of similar nature. Improving produce quality and safety, maintaining labor intensive production were among the coping strategies concurred. Participants were extremely impressed by the contribution of technology to agriculture in China for securing the food security of the huge population. While China’s rural reform started 1978 had greatly increased the agricultural productivity from the people factor, agro-technology has sustained it since the mid 1980s, including the biotechnologies in the last 10 years.

China’s overall strategy of maintaining labor intensive and high value agriculture while giving less importance on land and water demanding crops to maintain comparative advantages of its agricultural sector was also informative to the participants.

China’s policy making process was also found interesting, which is largely based on piloting and testing in small scale and large scale adoption when effects and applicability is confirmed. The process from proposing, piloting and implementing policy measures was also found comparatively short so that they don’t stay with the political debate and approval process for long.

Questions relating to private sector investment in Agriculture, off-farm sector development, challenge of realizing economy of scale through such as agricultural mechanization in the smallholder agriculture as well government policy on forestry was also raised and discussed.

Challenges from climate change drew close attention of participants. The participants were introduced and actively participated in discussions on the available coping strategies in terms of protection, adaptation and response to climate changes. The holistic approach from planning, implementation, coordination to monitoring and evaluation in the watershed management in Loess Plateau region as well the investment and sustainability mechanism provided a strategic thinking to participants for addressing similar challenges in the IFAD project areas.

The concentration and engagement demonstrated by the participants in the workshop sessions was really impressive. Two thumbs up !

Seminar on South-South Cooperation between China and IFAD
Beijing, 24 September

The advancement of China's agriculture sector is based primarily on good agricultural policy after a proven process of formulation and implementation steering. It is a specific model that combines small farms with rapidly increasing productivity and production for commercial and especially exports. The design of this policy is based partly on practical pilot experiences. Subsequently, their implementation is widely replicated. On the other hand, it relies heavily on researchers and multidisciplinary experts. The strategic choices of government bodies at different levels are thus based on expert opinion to be translated into practical plans of the Government's political will. The steering of this policy is facilitated by the development of tools to support efficiency and capitalization of experiences. These tools allow any time to decide on a readjustment of the implementation of even agricultural policy in the ongoing search for appropriate solutions and effective. It is a strength to have control of these tools to analyze and predict changes in economic investment in agriculture.

On the other hand, the implementation of a subsidy for agricultural inputs and equipments obtained significant success in terms of increased production. The reinforcement of security of land tenure has motivated the producers to adhere to and ownership of agricultural development policy in the perspective offered by access to land for long-term (30 years).

To finalize the preparation of its agricultural sector program, Madagascar can draw process practiced in China for: (i) reduce the preparation time, (ii) accelerate the start up of its implementation, (iii) develop tools for its management to predict economic impacts. It was also noted that agricultural development has served to launch the industry in China from its extension to non-agricultural activities and small and medium sized local businesses.

Environmental side, the watershed management Loess Plateau project shows that this type of project can be conducted on a large scale. Indeed, this board has a total area of 640,000 square km, the project focused on the most sensitive areas totaling 30,000 km ². However, such projects require huge funding of $ 500 millions. This raises questions about the prioritization of financial resources and the balance between the economic exploitation and environmental protection. The changes are impressive. In addition, beneficiary communities were much engaged in the performance of work. (By Madagascar Team)
  • Climate change should be adopted into planning of local development.

  • Forest replantation could be combined with livestock development

  • Development of livestock is crucial to improve income of farmers

  • On-site development of enterprises in rural areas will be effective in reduction of migration and remove of labor form agriculture to other sectors.
    (by VietNam and Bangladesh teams)

I am impressed by the depth of research on agriculture which is them passed on to the political class and used as basis for policy formulation. The direct correlation between growth in agriculture and the reduction of poverty (or is it wealth creation?) is amazing. (King’ori, Wathobio, Project Advisor for Rwanda)

What came out clearly from the first day is that government needs a strong strategy and good political will to overcome poverty. And these should last several decades to bear fruits: poverty decreased from 250 million people to 20 million in China.

Governments should never get dependant of international aid, but use it to learn new techniques and new ways of development.

The second day gives key lesson for IFAD projects in the World is the way China developed its agriculture based on smallholders (average 0.6 ha/farm). Major shift occurred with market liberalization in early 80’s which created boost in production (only 5% farmers in cooperatives). Since then government focuses its efforts on institution reform, agricultural technology and market liberalization.

For the future China will have to confront an aging farmer population, maintain labor intensive production in the country, outsource land intensive production in other countries. (Benoit Thierry, IFAD CPM)

South-South Cooperation between IFAD and China Taking Its First Step

Posted by Roxanna Samii Wednesday, September 23, 2009 1 comments

The first event promoting the South-South Cooperation between China and IFAD supported programs in Asia and Africa kicked off in Beijing on 23rd September 2009.

18 project officers from 4 countries (Madagascar, Rwanda, Viet Nam and Bangladesh) including IFAD CPM Mr. Benoit Thierry gathered in China to undertake a one-week knowledge exchange program, which combines in-door lecturing and field exposure to China’s development and poverty reduction experiences and IFAD’s work and experiences in China. The participants gratefully acknowledged the sponsorship of the Chinese government for accommodation and ground travel.

Senior officials from the Ministry of Finance and the International Poverty Reduction Cooperation Center in China opened the seminar together with IFAD CPM for China Mr. Thomas Rath. In their opening statements the MOF and IFAD representatives both confirmed the significance of this event in promoting sharing and learning between China and other developing countries in Asia and Africa and among the IFAD projects involved. Both sides expressed desire to continue such cooperation to contribute to global poverty reduction.

During the first day sessions, the participants were informed about China’s impressive record on poverty reduction from 260 million extreme poor to 14 million over the last 30 years, the main challenges and key elements of China development model. Exchanges were made on what from China’s development experience can be replicated in developing countries.

The IFAD country team presented the achievements of joint GOC and IFAD projects (23 projects with USD 578 million loan) and discussed the new development approaches and challenges in country that is developing very rapidly. The key elements of project design and implementation triggered great interest by participants.

The first day was a good start as participants showed great interest in the seminar and concentrated in the presentations and discussions despite of long flight and jetlag… 20 some hours for the Madagascar team to reach China.

Below are some of the reflections from participants on day one:

  • “ The number of Chinese people out of poverty is impressive. The contribution of IFAD projects to that from 1981 to 2006 is 15 million people. This figure corresponds to the current number of poor people in Madagascar. This shows the real possibility of fighting against poverty when you have a good strategy, appropriate leadership associated with political stability and strong governance. But it is also the result of sustained efforts in continuity of strategic orientations and respect for discipline, good will and a real motivation of the population. The projects supported by external donors working together as part of a clearly elaborated by the State on the basis of priorities set at the lower level (provincial) leading to their successful ownership and sustainability through existing structures in place (Government and rural organizations). Therefore, projects financed by external aid are complementary to government programs.” - Madagascar team

  • ” IFAD projects in China really play their role of supporting the poorest with a refinement of targeting face to an economic and an industrial development in general. These projects have also shown good management of space by the concentration of actions and their replication. However, the exchanges between participating countries show that despite the socio - economic, geographic and level of equipment of different countries that are significantly different, the main lines of IFAD’s have similarities. This begs the question whether IFAD should recommend the same approach for conditions quite different even though we always target the poor.” - Madagascar team

  • “From the first presentation I was greatly impressed by the Chinese approach especially with regard to:
    the prioritizing of infrastructure in preparation for investment and growth;
    financing the infrastructure from among others domestic savings
    the ability to program for equitable growth that puts money in villagers' hands
    the shift from heavy industry to township and rural small scale industry
    From the presentation in IFAD programmes
    the techincal envoy model and the fact that it is stimulating private sector based service deliverry in rural areas
    attempts to introduce technology in poor households such as the differenciated grants for household infrastructure
    systematizing innovation in project planning and implementation
    These are just but a few - the whole day has been one big learning experience for me.” - King’ori Wathobio, project advisor for Rwanda

Agriculture fires economic growth

Posted by Roxanna Samii Thursday, September 17, 2009 2 comments

When food prices soared in 2008 and the availability of food itself became an issue in many countries – including a number in Africa – the world woke up to a major food security crisis. High prices meant that poor people could no longer afford basic food staples. And import restrictions put in place by exporting countries also meant that even countries with the means to buy food at higher prices could no longer be assured of its availability.

Since then, governments have begun to take steps to ensure that their citizens are not faced with a similar food crisis in the future. The international community has also taken measures to promote greater global food security. These efforts were crowned by the L’Aquila Food Security Initiative adopted by the G8 and other world leaders at the G8 Summit in Italy this month. The Initiative promises to mobilize $20 billion in the next three years to help developing countries increase their agricultural production.

As the head of the United Nations agency dedicated to smallholder agriculture and the reduction of rural poverty, I am heartened by the agreement reached in L’Aquila.

Agriculture is the key to food security and a fundamental engine of economic growth and wealth generation. The vast majority of today’s developed countries grew out of strong agricultural foundations, where surplus production generated wealth and prosperity. This is what is happening today in Viet Nam and it is the path that India and China took not so long ago. Smallholder agriculture in particular is key to sustainable growth and equitable wealth generation in the developing world.

African nations will also have to follow a similar path. In order for development to be effective – to lift people out of poverty and ensure food security – it must be underpinned by a sustained effort to develop Africa’s agriculture. Strengthening agriculture is one of the best investments any African country can make today.

This was recognized in 2003, when the member countries of the African Union meeting in Maputo pledged to increase spending on agriculture to at least 10 per cent of national budgets. But so far, although eight countries have met or surpassed it, the continent as a whole has not met this target.

Investment in agriculture in Africa must focus on creating a dynamic smallholder sector. This is because most African countries are still predominantly rural, with smallholder farms responsible for as much as 80 per cent of agricultural production. When smallholder farmers are at the heart of agricultural growth, the impact on a country’s economy and food security can be dramatic.

The impact of such investment on the lives of rural men, women and children is also enormous. I have seen the extraordinary changes that can come about when poor farmers are given the means to improve their lives. When I headed the Africa Rice Center (WARDA), we developed new rice varieties – known as NERICA – that combined the hardiness of native African rice species and the high productivity of Asian rice. As a result, many poor farmers in Africa were able to more than double their yields. With the right investment in agricultural research, new varieties of other food staples can also be developed.

The potential for growth
The organization that I head – the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) – helps developing countries improve the productivity of their smallholder farmers. Nearly 50 per cent of our funding goes to Africa, placing us among the top three multilateral institutions investing in agriculture on the continent. We have seen, time and time again, the potential of smallholder agriculture come to fruition through the programmes and projects we support.

In Nigeria, for example, an IFAD-supported programme is strengthening the cassava value chain by improving the linkages among the various actors of this chain – growers, processors and sellers. This programme is helping to create a system of linked processing facilities that produce a range of cassava derivatives targeting different markets and consumers. Many of the farmers benefiting are poor women who are largely responsible for processing cassava into traditional products such as gari, fufu and tapioca.

Africa has enormous potential for agricultural growth. According to some estimates, the amount of arable land available in sub-Saharan Africa could be increased four- to five-fold with judicious use of irrigation and fertilizer. In Nigeria, the area of land under cultivation could be increased by as much as 100 per cent. And the scope for increase in irrigation in the country is substantial, given that only 7 per cent of irrigable land is now under irrigation.

Partners in development
Since 1985, IFAD has supported nine programmes and projects in Nigeria for a total value of US$187.5 million. These projects invest in agricultural and livestock production, rural community development, rural finance, small-scale irrigation and small enterprise development.

The Government of Nigeria has invited IFAD to participate in its new Commercial Agriculture Development Programme, which aims to strengthen food security, increase employment opportunities and boost agriculture as an engine for broad-based economic growth in the country. We are currently in discussions with the government about our role, which would focus on smallholder farmers and poverty reduction, in keeping with IFAD’s mission.

In its new agriculture programme, Nigeria continues to demonstrate its strong support for the sector, which contributes over 40 per cent to the country’s GDP. It is my hope that Nigeria and other African countries, supported by the international community, will forge ahead with a green revolution for Africa. At IFAD, we are ready to give our full support and to work with African countries to turn this hope into reality.

Kanayo F. Nwanze
IFAD President

Preparing for supervision mission

Posted by Zoumana Bamba Monday, September 14, 2009 1 comments

Day 4 – Thursday 10 September

Madame Touré (FRAO/WARF) took over today and - with the support of Luisa Migliaccio - delivered three sessions on Loan Administration, including a tricky case study during which participants demonstrated their knowledge on how to operate the special account, which – like the subsequent quiz - was mastered very well.

Following this intense 235 (!) minutes of Loan Administration, Karen Juergens’ presentation on Fiduciary Responsibilities was opened by a 3 minute session of Lizard-style Stretching to mobilize participants’ energies for the second half of the day.

Martin Raine then provided some guidance as to how to prepare for supervision mission, looking at both the project’s and IFAD’s perspective. The session can be summarized as follows:

In the field you must invest,
That’s where the info is at its best.
Reports and figures can’t tell the whole story
Of the project’s flaws and the project’s glory.
In the filed visit you’ll be taken
Where there is success, but…

Make sure to see also where there is no progress.
And if they want to take you to one hundred project sites…
Be brave…
And Slash the number down to five.
(Contribution from a participant in an IFAD Supervision Training)

Finally, CPM Mr. Cassava and his team bravely coped with the angry - and hot-tempered - Minister during the role play in the afternoon.

Once again, participation during all sessions was excellent today and the average participant rating of today’s sessions was 2.7.

Field Visit – Rural Bank in the Gambia

Posted by Zoumana Bamba Friday, September 11, 2009 0 comments

Day 3 Wednesday 9 September

Following an intense morning of procurement and loan administration, the group departed on a field trip to the Rural Finance Project - successor of the Rural Finance Initiatives Project. The project, which aims at
- fostering self-sustaining rural Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs)
- ensuring that such MFIs have access to qualified support and
- forging partnerships with others projects for socio-economic and infrastructural development,

It follows a pro-active targeting mechanism to ensure that even the poorest groups have access to the financial services offered.

During the field visit, participants were received at the facilities of the rural banks and had the opportunity to interact with the villagers and project staff in order to learn and see how the bank operates, compare practices and exchange ideas.

Meanwhile, the participants from Northern Nigeria, who due to an unfortunate last minute change in their flight schedules had only arrived in Banjul Monday afternoon, stayed behind and were busy working. They had decided to sacrifice the field trip in order to prepare presentations on those topics they had missed Monday. After delivering 3 excellent presentations in the evening, the group democratically decided that they, too, should now be able to get their certificates on Friday.

by Karen Juergens

"Know what you want and how to get it" Procurement and Work Plan

Posted by Zoumana Bamba Thursday, September 10, 2009 0 comments

Day 2 – Tuesday 8 September

Procurement and the AWPB were the dominating topics of the day.

Perin Saint Ange presented the AWPB, the 5th key moment to organize beforehand for implementation, which
- serves as an instrument for integrating management priorities into implementation, forecasting procurement requirements and facilitating the mobilisations for staff and resources when needed
- is a tool to control costs, review and assess performance and achievement of targets at the end of the year.

In this regard, it was also emphasized that in order for implementation schedules to be realistic and achievable, they should be set based on experience from previous years – not on wishful thinking. Formal and content requirements of the AWPB were presented and illustrated through practical examples, and participants’ contributions.

Mr. Saint Ange also took the opportunity to stress the importance of sensitizing local governments and authorities to participate fully in the programme, also in the context of counterpart funding.

Guest speaker and Project Coordinator Mr. Famara Badji shared his experience with participatory AWPB in the Gambia Lowland Development Project.

The subject of procurement was introduced by Mr. Samson Idahosa who delivered two dynamic first lessons. During these interactive sessions, which included two complex case studies, participants worked in groups and shared their views and experiences in open discussions, jointly ‘bringing complexity to simplicity’.

Guest speaker Omar Gaye (”know what you want and how to get it”) complemented today’s procurement session by sharing examples of good practices in procurement.

Mr. Coumba Fall closed the day with a presentation on knowledge management as a tool to
-capture good practices and learn from mistakes
- identify and promulgate innovations
- connect people and develop capacity.

Mrs. Fall emphasized particularly that while the challenge was on project management to establish an open culture of knowledge sharing in the project, it was an issue that affects every member of the project team to integrate knowledge management in their daily work and ‘live it’.

Issues and Challenges in Project Implementation

Posted by Zoumana Bamba Wednesday, September 9, 2009 0 comments

Day 1 - Monday 7 September

The workshop was opened jointly by Mrs. Coumba Fall, Executive Director, WARF, Mr. Kekoi Kuyateh, Deputy Permanent Secretary (Projects and Programmes), Ministry of Finance, Mr. S. Bai Senghor, Director, Micro-Finance Department (Central Bank of the Gambia), Mr. Sulayman Gaye, Economist (Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs), Mr. Alasan Bah, Project Coordinator Rural Finance Project, and Mr. Perin Saint Ange, PA/IFAD.

In the first session, Martin Raine provided an overview of the workshop agenda and the major subject areas:

- Negotiating the Loan Agreement
- Starting-up the Project
- Project Implementation
- Closing the Project and the Loan.

He introduced the two guiding principles and objectives of the workshop programme:

- increase project staff’s understanding of their roles and responsibilities in project implementation and
- maximize project impact to benefit the rural poor.

In order to not get overburdened, it is crucial to organize beforehand for implementation and financial management. The session also recalled the responsibilities of the different actors - Government, project, and IFAD - during project implementation, in light of the overall objective to achieve the best results. In striving for maximum effectiveness and impact, all actors should always be guided by the needs of the beneficiaries.

Luisa Migliaccio (FC) presented an overview of the issues, processes and materials associated with Loan Negotiations. An introduction into the most critical provisions of the loan agreement and its impact on implementation helped participants familiarize with the legal framework of the loan. Difficulties in the mobilization of counterpart funds by central and local governments in a timely manner were highlighted by several participants. This proves once again to be an issue of concern for the effective implementation of project activities in the region. It was also noted that Borrowers’ delegations are not always sufficiently familiar with the content of Appraisal Reports and Loan Agreements before loan negotiations. Pre-negotiation of the loan agreement is a possible solution to the problem.

The third and fourth crucial stages in implementation, the letter to the borrower and start-up, were introduced by Perin Saint Ange. Using examples from his long experience, he vividly illustrated how during this phase all appraisal, negotiation and legal documents of the loan are translated into action, and the project’s responsibilities in implementation are established. Participants were familiarized with the main contents of the letter to the borrower and how it constitutes an operational guideline for withdrawal of loan funds, procurement, and financial and audit reporting.

Guest speaker Alasan Bah and other participants actively contributed by sharing experiences and discussing issues frequently encountered in their daily work.

By Karen Juergens

Second Workshop on Project Implementation and Financial Management

Posted by Zoumana Bamba Monday, September 7, 2009 1 comments

After Abuja, a second Workshop on Project Implementation and Financial Management amongst IFAD projects in West and Central Africa is being organized in Banjul, capital city of The Gambia, 7-11 September 2009. The workshop is organized jointly with the West Africa Rural Foundation (WARF) and the Ministry of Agriculture of The Gambia.

The 5 days learning event is organized with the aim of capacity building and sharing knowledge for effective and efficient implementation and financial management of IFAD-funded projects.

This second Workshop also seeks to facilitate - shared experiences, issues and briefings on new IFAD policies and procedures for future operations. The Workshop participants come from IFAD funded projects in Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, and The Gambia. Together, projects, consultants and IFAD staff will continuously and proactively address areas of concern in implementation and project financial management performance and build on the knowledge and good practices accumulated in the participating countries.

Like in Abuja, the Workshop curriculum is based on a “blended learning” pedagogy that includes lecture, case studies, role play, small group exercises, guest speakers, as well as other “hands-on” activities designed to provide participants with practical experience with actual forms, reports and other materials. The Workshop also includes provision for the use of several evaluation tools, from daily participant evaluations to a pre- and post-workshop participant quiz. This blended-learning pedagogy and evaluation tools corresponds to best practice in continuing professional development and learning and adds value to, as well as opportunities for, continuous improvement.

Approximately, 35 participants are attending the five-day workshop at The Kairaba Hotel Palm Beach.

The KM Planning and Learning Workshop to held on 19-21 October 2009 in Nairobi, Kenya. The workshop will be the start of the process of operationalizing knowledge management in our investment programmes. The overall purpose is to improve project management processes by fully integrating knowledge management into all aspects of project management, including M&E, financial management, supervision and reporting.

Following on from the IFADAfrica start-up workshop, this meeting will be an opportunity for CPMs, country officers, project coordinators, M&E officers and other key stakeholders to conduct a needs diagnosis to identify and analyse where and why knowledge is not flowing, and to identify what needs to change in our processes and systems. It will also be an opportunity for all of us to develop a better understanding of what knowledge management really means in the project management context, as well as what IFAD needs to do in order to facilitate the integration of KM in our operations.

During the IFADAfrica start-up workshop, project coordinators and M&E officers identified needs assessment, capacity building and support for using KM approaches and tools for documentation and learning as their priorities. The October workshop and follow-up activities will respond to all of these priorities. The main outcome of the workshop will be a plan, developed by the participants, outlining how to take forward the operationalization of knowledge management at project level. We expect that this plan will encompass specific concrete activities at project level - for example, documentation of lessons; or initiatives to strengthen M&E and link it with KM. Project staff will be supported by ongoing coaching and mentoring, and there will be a number of follow-up meetings during the three-year life-span of the IFADAfrica programme. Continuous documentation and learning throughout the process will also strengthen our ability to roll out this initiative throughout the region.

We are expecting 50 people to attend the workshop. Participants will include project coordinators, M&E officers, country officers and CPMs, country programme and project knowledge management officers, as well as relevant government staff who are working in knowledge management and have direct linkages with IFAD-supported projects.

The co-hosts of the regional rural finance thematic workshop, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has supported Rural Finance Knowledge Management Partnership (KMP), International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) and the Swedish Cooperative Centre and VI Agro-forestry (SCC-Vi), are happy to announce that this year's workshop will take place in Kigali , Rwanda. The workshop will take place on 16-18 September 2009. The theme for the workshop will focus on “value chain financing: the opportunities and challenges ”.

DAY ONE - 16 SEPT 2009

The third joint regional rural finance workshop kicked off today at the Laico Hotel Umubano, Kigali hosted by the Government of Rwanda (GOR) and the Association of Microfinance Institutions of Rwanda (AMIR). A total of 150 participants attended this year's workshop. The participants were from the following countries: Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.


The workshop was officially opened by the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI), Mr. Ernest Ruzindaza officially opened the workshop. The other key speakers at the opening ceremony included the Association of Microfinance in Rwanda (Mr. Faustin Zahiga- Chairperson), SCC-Vi (Ms. Carina Andersonn - Regional Director), ICA representative (Mr. Stephen Kiwanuka), Swedish Mission for Rwanda and Burundi (Mr. Richard Momboma- Head of Mission), IFAD representative (Mr. Claus Reiner - Country Programme Manager, Rwanda). The co-host of the thematic workshop emphasized their commitment to continued support to the annual knowledge sharing event. The development partners emphasized the appropriateness of the theme on value chains as fitting their objectives of poverty reduction for rural areas.


  • explore the general understanding of value chain financing
  • share experiences on the financing opportunities that exist within a given value chain
  • find out the challenges that impede financing with a given value chain
  • provide participants with an opportunity to interact with rural farm enterprises and agro-processors to learn and share experience during the field visits
  • create a knowledge management forum for discussions and sharing of experience on the theme "value chain financing: opportunities and challenges"
  • collate the final workshop conclusions and disseminate to all participants for cross learning


Overview of Rural Finance in Rwanda

As is always the tradition, the host country in this case Rwanda is given an opportunity to share on the status of rural finance in the host country. The two presenters on this topic came from the representing the AMIR and MINAGRI. The key issues of the two presentation came from an MINAGRI and National Bank of Rwanda (BNR) supported workshop on agricultural finance held on 10 Sept 2009. This workshop brought together the government supported projects, development partners, commercial banks, micro-finance Institutions, and farmers to discuss the challenges, recommendation and action to improve access to agricultural finance.

The MFI face many challenges in providing agricultural finance in Rwanda. The main challenge facing MFIs is that agricultural investments requires medium and long-term financing. Although the GOR has tried to provide access to these type of resources such as guarantee funds, Rural Investment Facility (RIF), etc. but the the MFIs and the commercial banks indicated that the procedures to access it quite cumbersome. The findings are: (i) experience of the BNR managed Agricultural Credit Guarantee Fund (ACGF) is that the perceived risk by commercial banks on lending to agriculture is higher than the actual risk; (ii) lack of agricultural expertise within the banks; (iii) lack of appropriate agricultural loan products; (iv) high transaction cost of lending to smallholder farmers; (v) lack of repayment discipline due to grant culture; (vi) lack of skills on the development of bankable proposals (although the RIF has put in place consultants to assist the farmers but has faced challenges) and finally low demand for loans. One recommendation on the AGCF was that GOR should not be in the business of doing business but providing an enabling environment for the private sector to take the lead.

Value Chain Financing

There were several papers on this topic from various country experiences mainly from Kenya, Madagascar, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda. The key papers touched on the value chain financing concepts and examples of value chains opportunities and challenges. The first key paper presented by Mr. Peter Kivolonzi looked at the fish value chain around Lake Victoria. Fishing is a cut throat business for the women folk especially in low seasons. The presenter showed a powerful video on how the women fish traders due to lack of finance resort to sex for fish with the fishermen and transporters. As a result the fish value chain is bedeviled by HIV/Aids pandemic. The presenter reiterated the need to provide micro-finance to the women to enable to pay cash for the fish.

The second paper presented by the passionate Mr. Mark Owusuansah provided further rationale, tools and methodologies, and processes on the value chain financing and used the example of CIDR's experience on the Paprika value chain in Tanzania. The presenter caused a stir with the participants when he emphasized that all actors in the value chain are important including the dreaded 'middleman". He further caused a long debate when he stated that one should not be bothered about how much another actor is earning along chain and concluded that the weakest link on the chain is always ejected out of the chain. The participants felt this statement is valid for market that function but in imperfect markets there is chance of the strongest in the chain to take advantage of the farmers or women fish traders (weaker link in the chain) which at times requires interventions to correct it.

The Cooperative Bank of Kenya (Coop Bank) experience by Mr. Peter Ndegwa showed the bank is owned by the cooperatives movement who are the majority shareholders of the bank. One out of every five Kenyans is a member of a cooperative. The Bank has provided links with the community based savings and credit cooperatives (SACCOs) as well as back office support and capacity building which has resulted in some of the largest SACCOs in Africa. The presenter dwelt on the role of the SACCOs in value chain financing for enterprises such as tea, coffee, dairy, fish, etc in Kenya. The presenter presented their Maziwa loans that target the dairy value chain. The bank has forged strong partnerships with various development partners in this effort.

The sensational Equity Bank presenters Mr. Henry Karugu and Mr. George Irungu teamed up to demonstrate the banks extreme passion in agricultural lending. Equity Bank which started as a building society has over the years transformed itself into a leading micro-finance bank in Kenya. It's edge is in responding to demand. Equity presented the case on strong partnership along the maize value chain finance through a partnership of IFAD, AGRA and AGMARK called Kilimo biashara. Kilimo biashara is farming for business targets several value chains. The bank recently released a wining marketing branding named " I am so and so and I am a member" which has made the bank a household name in Kenya.

The experience of Kenya Gatsby Trust through its semi-autonomous Biashara Factors (BF) was presented by Ms. Beatrice Obara. BF is involved in invoice discounting where a farmer or business who has an order to supply goods and services. The farmer or traders would go to BF and access finance based on the invoice. The invoice is paid a certain percentage and when the invoice is paid the final amount is paid to invoice holder. This is another exciting innovation which has gone a long way to provide finance to a segment that would otherwise not be able to access finance.

The Madagascar Experience from one of IFAD supported programme PROSPERER presented by Mr. Tovonirina Rokokoseheno showed how the project is working with farmers and embedding finance by linking the farmers to micro-finance institutions. The challenge in Madagascar is the recurring cyclones that is a major risk to agriculture lending. At the moment there is no insurance to cover cyclones. Therefore the cyclone risk is covered by the farmers.

Warehouse Receipts System
Warehouse receipts, contract farming and trader guarantee schemes are some of the interesting innovations in rural finance that have been successful in providing storage to enable farmers to access much needed cash at harvest but in addition benefit from farm price increases. The examples of warehouse receipts presented by Mr. Frank Manzi came from two IFAD supported programmes Agricultural Marketing (developed the warehouse receipts and regulations) and Rural Finance Support (provided the financing) in Tanzania. The presenter gave a step by step process on how the warehouse receipts system works with the roles of the different actors including the warehouse manager, collateral manager, insurance company, commercial banks, and SACCOs. Despite some challenges the Chimala SACCO experience using the classical WRS approach shows it can be profitable venture.

The Rwandan experience of CAF Isonga in the southern region presented by Mr. Joseph Kabundi was exceptional in its simplicity and innovative nature of its operations. The CAF Isonga model use a tripartite approach with farmers, warehouse and the micro-finance institution. The micro-finance institution has innovated to finance the whole chain instead of the classic WRS that finance only at the point of storage. The models although new has been able to demonstrate success in increasing farmer profitability. The participants had the opportunity to see this operation during the field visit.

The Ugandan experience by Mr. Patrick Muumba showed that the cooperatives models with a warehouse even in the simplest form has been beneficial to cooperative members. The technical support to the cooperative is provided by the Uganda Cooperative Alliance (UCA). In this case the amount of loan that a farmer can access is 60% of the value of the crop held in the warehouse. In Tanzania case the farmers could access up to 75% of the value.

Finally the presentation of Rabobank, Netherlands experience in the region by Mr. Hans Boggard showed that the warehouse receipts have been successfully adopted by Rabobank partners such as the National Micro-finance Bank (NMB). He also highlighted that there some minimum requirements for a successful WRS which include regulatory framework which exist in some countries and not in others. The other is the market for the produce in the warehouse. The emphasis was that the WRS works well when there is forward contracts that can ensure market for the produce.


On Thursday, participants went out to the field to see for themselves how value chain financing has been put to practice. Participants were divided into four groups to visit different parts of the country: a coffee washing station and an MFI in Eastern province; two cooperative societies in Northern Province; an MFI working with a rice farmers cooperative and uses the warehouse receipt system in Southern Province; and the Nyabihu Tea Factory and Sina Gerard Enterprise (an agro-processor) in Western Province. By the time they came back it was too late for the groups to report in plenary so the event was postponed to Friday morning. The visits would assess the following: the part of the value chains the institutions addressing; opportunities for value chain financing? The challenges for the rural finance institutions; and what they learn from the trip.
Participants arrived tired and late in the evening and it was not possible to have them give their trip reports. It was decided they would report on their field trips tomorrow morning.


Everyone woke to a fresh start. The group rapporteurs presented what they observed guided by the four key field trip deliverables. Participant’s comments were wide ranging. They were happy to see for themselves what they had discussed during the first day and relate it to what was actually happening on the ground. They saw some very enterprising farmers, agribusinesses, and MFIs and cooperatives at work. The warehousing receipt system was particularly an eye opener for those who had not seen it at work. In short, it was a good practical learning experience and they could now relate to the concept of value chain financing. They even recommended that one of the SACCOs was really in intensive care and needed urgent intervention from the regulating body.

Prof Magimbi from the University of Dar es Salaam presented an International Labour Organization (ILO) study on the global crises (he said it was not just the financial crisis we have to contend with) and how they have impacted on rural financing and cooperatives. His recommendation was that grouping into cooperatives provides economies of scale and helps to protect groups from the crises. There was no doubt the global financial crisis had trickled down to the village level as shown by decreased savings, reduced savings and credit, and unemployment. But there was still a silver lining because deficits somewhere mean farmers can be helped to produce more for markets both internal and external.

The last presentation was on gender and training and mainstreaming which was financially supported by Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO)gender grant. Mr Getaneh Gobezie of Ethiopia sent the participants in stitches with his analysis of gender in rural financing. An important point he raised is that women are not a homogeneous group and product developers should take this into consideration. There were good examples in Uganda and Sudan of tools for mainstreaming gender in rural finance that have empowered women.

Miriam Cherogony then led participants to evaluate the workshop. Most participants said they could now relate to value chain financing, it was previous a little understood concept. They also said that in future there should be a few key presentations that will be discussed exhaustively.

Meanwhile the guest of honour, Mr. Damien Mugabo, head of Rwanda Cooperative Agency, arrived and Miriam took him through summarized deliberations of the workshop. The guest of honour then thanked all organizers and participants and hoped the deliberations of this workshop will be used to improve the livelihoods of the poor. He officially closed the workshop.