A report by the Ghana Agricultural Sector Development Programme (GASIP) Supervision Mission (SM) has shown that the overall goal of GASIP which is to contribute to sustainable poverty reduction in rural areas has not been achieved.
At design, GASIP was expected to reach 86,400 farmers by the end of the second cycle (30 June 2021), working through 4,000 FBOs organized under value chain clusters. Although the project results were impressive, it failed to realize its overall goal. GASIP became effective in May 2015, and the current completion and closing dates are 31 December 2022. GASIP was designed to be implemented through a Programme Coordination Unit (PCU) located in Accra and three Zonal Coordination Offices (ZCOs) in Kumasi. The Ghana Agricultural Sector Investment Programme (GASIP) is implemented by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA). Its development objective is to enhance agribusinesses’ profitability and climate change resilience, including those of smallholders.
The ‘problem project‘
GASIP was affected by staffing and human resources management challenges from its inception resulting in severe programme implementation delays. The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) labeled it a “Problem Project”. Early 2019 was a turning point in project implementation, as many public infrastructure contracts were finally awarded after several failed bidding attempts. Substantial efforts were also made to improve the performance of the Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP) supported activities and to firm up the selection of the value chains clusters to be targeted.
GASIP achieved positive and impressive results in 2019 by partnering with 53 Value Chain Drivers and engaging 1,200 Farmer Based Organizations. The programme also collaborated with the government and private sector for capacity building and supported 1,300 farmers with climate-resilient practices. Over 15,000 Youth and women were enrolled in the programme, and close to 50,000 smallholder farmers benefited from inputs, capacity building, and road infrastructure.
At the end of September 2021, 10,077 people, or 7% of the 144,021 cumulative beneficiaries, were trained in production practices and technologies under the sub-component. The training activities in nutrition, agro-processing and vocational skills using demonstrations and counseling (involving 11,256 women and 5,590 mothers and caregivers, respectively) and women empowerment on radio through 61 districts have contributed to developing human and social capital and empowerment of beneficiaries. Additional business capacity building for women and training in income-generating activities for market women have been undertaken for over 2,000 beneficiaries.
Loopholes in GASIP implementation
A core expected outcome of GASIP has been to strengthen institutional FBOs as empowered vehicles graduating to more matured stages of operations emboldened enough to negotiate and conduct business effectively in linkages with other value chain actors. The activities to entrench this outcome of matured institutional FBOs were delayed and are mitigated under an MoU with MoFA’s DAES scheduled for its implementation in 2022, during the concluding calendar year of GASIP’s implementation.
The quality of beneficiary participation remains low, reflecting the subordinate empowerment of the FBOs and their members. The expectation of a gradual process of FBOs maturing through more important stages of development has been slow, if at all. Thus, beneficiaries perceive themselves, and are treated by other value chain actors as the weaker partners in conducting transactions.
In the prosecution of its mandate, GASIP relies on the services of government agencies (MoFA directorates, regional and district directorates of agriculture, GIDA, GMET, etc.), non-governmental organizations and civil society organizations (Oxfam, etc.), financial institutions (finance houses, commercial, rural and community banks, etc.), other private sector entities (Nestle, Premium Foods, etc.) and consulting firms engaged in providing services to project beneficiaries. However, the services rendered were identified to be broad with no significant changes in timeliness and quality of delivery.
GASIP has no systematic processes in place to document lessons learned, good practices, and experiences that can be mainstreamed and consolidated. Engagement with partners and stakeholders for sustaining the gains of the Programme is not institutionalized. GASIP activities in promoting value chain development are unique in themselves and present good opportunities for its collaboration with the private sector actors, financial institutions, and FBOs alike and require that adequate capacities are built to sustain the outputs and outcomes of the Programme.
GASIP is requested to engage with the key institutions and partners to agree to a plan with timelines that will lead to empowering such key institutions to carry on with the good outcomes of the Programme after completion.
GASIP recommended to set clear guidelines on its processes and guidelines
GASIP is scheduled to be completed by December 31 (8 months from now) and then close on June 30 2023. To sustain the gains and outcomes of the Programme, the Mission has advised that there must be clear guidelines on the processes and procedures on how the material resources, tangible products, and Programme partners and stakeholders will be capacitated to continue with GASIP results.
“To sustain its principal achievements, the project management team needs to develop a comprehensive but practical exit strategy regarding the core areas of operation, in particular, the formalization of value chains and the FBOs, risk mitigation through the institutional building of value chain stakeholders such as the VCD-FBO relationship, entrenching the more successful aspects of the rural finance components (VSLAs, equipment financing, etc.), DDA support to FBOs, women and youth empowerment and training and skills development among other aspects.”GASIP Supervision Mission
The Mission also advised that the exit strategy should include critical areas of operations that will trigger actions to make up for the delay in program implementation. Therefore, the mission strongly recommends that GASIP develop a comprehensive, actionable exit strategy by May 15 2022 in consultation with key stakeholders for implementation until project completion.
“GASIP should develop a comprehensive, actionable exit strategy on the core areas of operation, including formalizing value chains and the FBOs, the institutional building of value chain stakeholders (such as VCD-FBO relationships), consolidating the more successful aspects of the rural finance components (VSLAs, equipment financing), District Departments of Agriculture (DDA) ongoing support to FBOs, women and youth empowerment and skills development.”GASIP Supervision Mission