The issues facing global agriculture

@WFP

The issues facing global agriculture

Dear members,

When evaluating agriculture-based interventions, do you agree that as evaluators we should address globally facing burning issues, as follows:

-          Food security;

-          Affordable technology for farmers;

-          Farmers ownership on land;

-          Farmers issues related to finance, funding and price factors.

I believe these aspects should always be included in evaluation Terms of Reference, what do you think?

Look forward to hear from all.

Best

Isha

Independent consultant

Project management, monitoring & evaluation Sri Lanka

This discussion is now closed. Please contact info@evalforward.org for any further information.

Dear Bintou,

Many thanks for the response. This is what I like about EvalForward, it gives us an open platform to talk about many things.

I guess that I only somewhat agree with what you say, because my thinking is that the future evaluations should take a broader approach than what we normally do.

I would like to quote my friend Zenda Ofir focusing on DAC criteria, as we both honestly believe that DAC criteria need a face lift and argue that time is up for changes of the old with new thinking. 

Zenda says "yes, we can have ‘top-down’, ‘bottom-up’ or ‘up-and-down’ interventions and strategies. But we need to be much more aware of the realities within which we should aim to make a difference".

Also she says that "We are working ourselves into a technocratic, simplistic notion of development, humanitarian work and evaluation that makes us increasingly irrelevant for that which matters now.

Yes, it is in part the result of the political economy in which we work. But we are not that powerless to change key aspects of our work. It is a matter of will and conviction".

http://zendaofir.com/updating-the-DAC-criteria-part-10/.

Best regards

Isha

 

Bintou Nimaga

Bintou Nimaga

Cher Isha!

Votre conclusion me donne l'idée que vos préoccupations s'adressent plutôt à la phase de formulation des projets/programmes pour laquelle ces thématiques sont à considérer avec intérêt. Mais, pour la phase d'évaluation, il n'est pas possible de recréer de nouvelles préoccupations.

Salutations à vous!

Bintou Nimaga

Mali

***

Dear Isha!
Your conclusion gives me the idea that your concerns are addressed rather to the formulation phase of the projects / programs for which these themes are to be considered with interest. But for the evaluation phase, it is not possible to recreate new concerns.
 

Dear EVAL-ForwARD members,

I was delighted to see a lively debate raising from my discussion question! 

To my query about the need to address the burning issues I mentioned when evaluating agriculture-based interventions, the majority of your responses drew the attention on the scope of the evaluations, which are bound by theories of change. 

I continue to think that the commissioner/s of evaluation must take these concerns seriously when it comes to either policy level evaluation or to any activity related to agricultura-based programme evaluation in their future assessments. I strongly believe that as evaluators we should find a way to incorporate these burning issues in the TORs of evaluation for the benefit of programme implementers, and entities, so that they come to think more about productive and sustainable manners to lead there interventions in future.

I thank you all for your insightful contributions.

Isha Wedasinghe Miranda

Sri Lanka

Judith Kaitetesi Katabarwa

Judith Kaitetesi Katabarwa

Dear Isha,

Very interesting areas you have mentioned but my take on that would be that consideration of them should be earlier during scoping and proposal development of agriculture projects. Then the evaluations can make sure to include them.

Evaluations are very specific to a project scope with specific indicators to track, hence all these areas you mention may not be assessed if they were not in the project interventions from inception.

Best,

Judith

Rwanda

Dear Isha,

'agriculture-based interventions' is a nebulous term whose assessment cannot be determined a priori. The issues you list, together with others, could serve as the underlying goals for agriculture-based interventions (design, implementation, evaluation and learning).

However, evaluation results from such interventions will arguably vary within different contexts. There is therefore, a great deal of specificity in evaluating each agriculture-based intervention. If the issues you have listed are included in your Terms of Reference (TOR) for the evaluation, I agree you are obliged to adhere to the terms; you will not normally impose your views on what needs to be evaluated if you are hired as an external evaluator.

Samuel Boakye

ICED

Bintou Nimaga

Bintou Nimaga

Hello Isha!

Thank you for your good ideas, really interesting!

The themes that you suggest themes constitute the substance of agricultural development. However, I think it is not possible for the evaluator to release himself the content of his work. He is bound by Terms of Reference to respect. These Terms of Reference are driven by indicators from project / program planning.

However, the questions on gender and the environment are cross-cutting, and enhance the effectiveness and sustainability of the project's achievements and, to this end, enhance the quality of the analysis.

Dear all,
As I am following the thread of this discussion, I get more convinced that platforms such as EvalForwARD CoP have to exist for evaluation practitioners of all backgrounds: it can only provide assets and advantages to all of us. Why I am saying this? Because I feel and "smell" some confusion in conceptualising "evaluation" in the air.
According to my modest experience in Monitoring & Evaluation (M&E), I see "evaluation" strongly bounded by the Theory of Change defined during the project/programme formulation stage, and the results framework we assign to a given developmental action, be it a project, a programme, or a policy. Though lots of things need to be evaluated in any project/programme in order to be more comprehensive in our understanding of what worked and what didn't, we have to be faithful to what that project/programme was assumed or assigned to change. And for this, I join my voice to Emmanuel Bizimungu and Dr. Emile Houngbo, saying that we cannot evaluate anything and everything but we have to keep "targeted". Quoting Robert Chambers, I would say that we should opt for an "optimal ignorance" to not get our research efforts diluted in different senses and directions.
In some interventions in this discussion thread, I assume that some friends are using the term "evaluation" as if it is a sectoral study assessment, a sort of an "état des lieux", as we say in French, or the "state of the art study" of the agricultural sectoral. If this is case, let us the words properly and keep the term "evaluation" for what it is meant: "the systematic and objective assessment of an on-going or completed project, programme or policy, its design, implementation and results. The aim is to determine the relevance and fulfillment of objectives, development efficiency, effectiveness, impact and sustainability… An assessment, as systematic and objective as possible, of a planned, on-going, or completed development intervention." (OECD, 2002 – Glossary of key terms in evaluation and Results-based Management).
It is then clear that "evaluation" is something different as doing an "état des lieux" or the "state of the art study" in terms of objectives, orientation, and use, although there are some common features shared among all. But for evaluation, as a peculiar characteristic that it bears, we have to develop an evaluation matrix backed by some evaluation questions and a strong and robust research methodology before we start collecting any data.
Furthermore, we have to keep in mind that, as the same glossary clearly mentions, "evaluation in some instances involves the definition of appropriate standards, the examination of performance against those standards, an assessment of actual and expected results and the identification of relevant lessons". This is why evaluation – the discipline and not the perceived term – is since the last decade developing into a new social science and for which specialists get officially accredited in some countries, such as Canada, for example.
Sorry for being too long but there was a need to clear my mind and attract the attention of colleagues on the perceived slight confusion.
Mustapha

Emmanuel Ndongo

Emmanuel Ndongo

I also think that these aspects should be included in evaluations of agriculture-based interventions.

Thanks and best regards.

Emmanuel Ndongo,

Cameroun

Dear Isha

I thank you for sharing this, although I intervene relatively late, I propose to include the theme of water and its availability for the farmers as a resource especially considering that the problem of water scarcity is at a global scale.

Excellent day

Raoudha Jaouani

Bhabatosh Nath

Bhabatosh Nath

Dear Isha,

Thank you so much for sharing your ideas.

I have some issues to share with you as follows:

  • I feel you could also think of the roles of a female (whether she herself is a farmer or a wife of a male farmer) and her ownership pattern as well.
  • Affordable technology for farmers: it is a very crucial issue! However, nowadays in our sub-continent farmers are bound to use chemical fertilizer and pesticide which are in most cases of low quality and are of low price. Many farmers are attracted by those traders, purchase and use those in the field, and it effects the yield. Those issues need to be addressed and evaluated.
  • Farmers issues related to finance, funding and price factors: Does it also include marketing and access to market? I also feel it important to think about 'Agriculture Value Chain Analysis'.

This is all for now.

Warm regards,

Bhabatosh, Bangladesh

Hello,

As a practitioner of evaluation, the aspects mentioned by Ms. Isha are essential for an objective evaluation.

How can we talk about food security if we do not associate the benefits of technology and the development of machinery and tools that are essential to the farmer?

The quantities produced, the speed of processing and the harvest are closely related to this aspect. Of course, the question of their accessibility to farmers in poor countries remains unresolved.

On the second point, the land ownership of the farmer, I think it is crucial. Human beings invest more and better when they own.

In other words, the formulas of concessions, agricultural villages, collective farms quickly showed their limits despite the existence of cases of success.

Then the last question about access to credit and financing, deserves to be studied seriously because it is important to situate funding assistance schemes, between a policy of encouragement that should lead to the autonomy of the farmer and a policy of assistance which gives rise to an assisted farmer, moving away from any initiative.

The issue of prices remains closely linked to the regulatory policy of the country to which the farmer belongs.

In other words, evaluating an agricultural policy amounts to evaluating:

      -its strategic and quantified objectives

      -the regulatory instruments

      -the allocated funding (direct and indirect such as subsidized credits, aid .....)

      -the results obtained quantitatively and qualitatively

Of course all this will be used to locate the strengths and weaknesses of agriculture with a view to making the appropriate recommendations.

NB An objective evaluation is an evaluation that takes into account all facets of the problem

Dear Isha,

This proposition is interesting, but it cannot be applied for each evaluation. The evaluation depends on the indicators established formerly with respect to the objectives of the  intervention. Because of this difference of objectives per agriculture-based intervention, the evaluation focus cannot be the same at each time. Best regards. 

Dr Emile HOUNGBO 

 

Emmanuel Bizimingu

Emmanuel Bizimingu

Dear Isha and team,

To me, I feel this is question is vague. Did you intend to evaluate these aspects in one evaluation study? In my understanding, the projects/programmes we evaluate normally have limited scope and are country and context specific. Therefore, they may not include all the aspects you are highlighting. If the project(s) or programme(s) being evaluated incorporate all these, the ToR should define what should be evaluated which also depends on budget.

Best,

Emmanuel