Food, Agriculture, and Rural Markets (FARM) Project Mid-Term Evaluation Report
Decades of civil war and the resulting disinvestment in human and physical capital have left what is now South Sudan as one of the least developed countries in the world, lacking many of the basic conditions to support development. With its high production potential, agriculture represents one possible driver of economic growth. However, a myriad of obstacles stand in the way of realizing this potential. These include limited to no use of improved agricultural production technologies and practices that keep productivity low; poor transportation infrastructure that make markets inaccessible to many farmers; low rates of literacy and numeracy that limit farmers’ abilities to effectively practice farming as a business; lack of financial services available to farmers; and weak to non-existent policy, legal and regulatory framework to support agriculture.
USAID launched the Food, Agriculture and Rural Markets (FARM) project in mid-February, 2010. The Mission designed the project to deliver rapid economic benefits to smallholder farmers by increasing production, improving access to markets as surpluses increased and improving the capacities of the private and public sectors to support market-led agriculture. The project works directly and intensively with farmer-based organizations (FBOs) to disseminate inputs, knowledge and services aimed at increasing production. It concurrently works to link farmers to traders and teach both groupsthe business skills necessary to operate effectively. Finally, through training and support for developing agricultural policy, it builds public- and private-sector capacities to support market-led agricultural growth.
USAID commissioned the mid-term performance evaluation of the FARM Project to assess its current performance and to make programmatic recommendations for improving performance in the remaining years of the project. Specifically, the evaluation addressed seven questions focused broadly on (1) the extent to which the project had achieved targets, (2) cost-efficiency, (3) contribution to USAID intermediate results, (4) prospects for sustainability, (5) sensitivity to, and results relative to, gender, (6) coordination with other stakeholders, and (7) project management.
A four-person team from Social Impact, Inc. (SI) and Management Systems International (MSI) conducted the field work for the mid-term evaluation of the FARM Project over a four-week period from October 7 through November 1, 2012. The evaluation relied primarily on qualitative data collected through semi-structured key informant (KI) interviews and group discussions with project beneficiaries.