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Complementary Interventions for Agrifood System Development – Insights and Lessons

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Farmer feeding chickens in the farm.
Agrifood systems are key towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, including ending hunger and malnutrition, poverty, and addressing climate change. Yet, despite their importance, agrifood systems face multiple challenges, including low productivity, inadequate market access for small farmers and producers particularly in low-income countries (LICs) and vulnerability to climate change Show MoreAgrifood systems are key towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, including ending hunger and malnutrition, poverty, and addressing climate change. Yet, despite their importance, agrifood systems face multiple challenges, including low productivity, inadequate market access for small farmers and producers particularly in low-income countries (LICs) and vulnerability to climate change. The World Bank Group aims to address these challenges through holistic interventions that increase the productivity, inclusion, and sustainability of agrifood systems. A recent evaluation by the Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) of the World Bank Group’s support for agrifood system development over ten years (2010-20) found that when market access is constrained, complementary interventions that pair support for enhancing sustainable production on the supply-side with that to improve market access on the demand-side can increase productivity and the overall effectiveness of interventions.    Low productivity remains a  major challenge for small farmers, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. For example, staple crop productivity in sub-Saharan Africa and LICs is about one-third of the level in upper-middle-income countries. Smallholders and small producers, especially in LICs find it challenging to increase productivity because of their limited access to markets, including agri-finance to invest in modern inputs and technologies. Low yields and weak market integration lead to fragmentation of production, low incomes, food insecurity, and pervasive poverty. When markets are underdeveloped and poorly integrated, low productivity also leads to higher food prices which, in turn, leads to a high cost of living for the rural and urban poor. Underdeveloped markets perpetuate subsistence production and undermine the ability of producers to respond to market signals or diversify production into higher value products with growing demand – limiting opportunities for inclusive growth in the rural sector.   Complementary interventions that helped increase productivity included access to finance to buy better inputs, such as fertilizers and feed, invest in small-scale irrigation and farm equipment, or in new technologies, such as improved seeds or crossbred cows.  It also included improved access to services (e.g., extension in the form of knowledge, research, or technology support such as artificial insemination or provision of market information), and support to improve access to and participation in markets and value chains. Investing in sustainable irrigation and productive climate-smart practices helped amplify these benefits to producers and increased productivity through higher yields and multiple harvests during the year. The evidence across countries showed that improving complementarity of supply and demand-side interventions was key to maximizing benefits from Bank Group interventions. Two examples from the evaluation illustrate the significance of complementary interventions. In the first example, the Ethiopia Agricultural Growth Project (AGP I) supported farmers using a complementary approach. The project helped them access crop and livestock technologies, and climate-smart practices, including small-scale irrigation. It also helped them access markets for their produce. The project supported improved irrigation on over 10,000 hectares of farmland and increased the marketed surplus of crops that benefited more than 58,000 farmers, including over 12,000 women and 6,000 young people. In the second example, the Malawi Irrigation, Rural Livelihoods, and Agricultural Development Project focused on supply- side interventions and had a limited impact on productivity. Smallholder farmers struggled to find sustainable market outlets for their maize and rice produce, leading to greater volatility in producer prices. As a result, while productivity of both maize and rice improved initially, it stagnated or became more volatile over time. Supply side interventions may succeed when market access is not constrained. For example, the Integrated Agricultural Productivity Project in Bangladesh helped increase productivity by supporting technology development and adaptation, including improved practices for conserving water and making irrigation more efficient. The project helped build the capacity of farmers and provided extension support, which led to adoption of better varieties of crops, livestock, and fish breeds. The improved technologies benefited about 51,000 farmers. Milk productivity more than doubled, milk consumption increased by 96 percent, milk sales increased fourfold, and milk sales earnings increased fivefold. The interventions significantly increased the seasonal earnings of beneficiary farmers from sale of crops, thereby, enhancing inclusion. The project also improved sustainability by putting over 27,000 hectares under better irrigation practices. Producer organizations play a key role in improving the access of smallholder farmers to markets and services by connecting them with other input providers and more organized buyers. Producer organizations come in several forms, such as common interest groups and cooperatives in Kenya and Ethiopia, farmer groups in productive alliances in Peru and Bolivia, and dairy and livestock cooperatives in India and Vietnam. IEG also found that most projects that aimed to increase inclusion also supported such producer organizations to help farmers access inputs, technologies, services, and markets. Strengthening the capacity of producer groups for better targeting and inclusion also increased the participation of women and youth. Making the transition from informal groups into producer cooperatives or enterprises can, however, be more challenging for producers, who are engaged in low-value commodities.  In Kenya, only about one-third of the newly established cooperatives supported by the Agricultural Productivity and Agribusiness Project were active after the project closed, except for the few involved in high value products such as dairy. Similarly, in Ethiopia the newly established cooperatives were more successful when they were able to connect with processors and were able to benefit from value chains.   When farmer groups face multiple challenges to succeed in accessing markets, timely support to help them transition to producer cooperatives and enterprises can be effective. IEG found that the Ethiopia Agricultural Growth Project helped connect three producer groups – Guguma Buraro, Guguma Buko, and Guguma Wube – in Meliga woreda in Oromia region - with the Assela Malt Factory. This provided the groups an incentive to invest in inputs and increase their productivity. Their supply of malt barely increased by over ten-fold from 62 tons in 2015 to 730 tons in 2017. This allowed the groups to become formal producer cooperatives and expand their access to finance and services. Targeting bottlenecks on both the supply (production) and demand (market) sides of the malt barley value chain, facilitated the transition from informal groups into market-oriented producer cooperatives. The above lessons can help the World Bank Group better support its clients in addressing the challenges of low yields, weak market access and inadequate integration of smallholder production into markets and value chains which often leads to low productivity. Providing complementary support is vital in transitioning toward more productive, inclusive, and sustainable agrifood systems and can contribute to finding viable solutions to the current global food crisis. See also: Building inclusive, productive, and sustainable agrifood systems

Building inclusive, productive, and sustainable agrifood systems

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Fruits and vegetables at the local market in India.
Well-functioning agrifood systems play an important role in increasing food and nutrition security, reducing poverty, especially in low-income countries (LICs), and meeting climate and environment goals for sustainable development. They are especially important now in the face of rising prices and food insecurity. The World Bank Group uses a variety of instruments to help develop effective Show MoreWell-functioning agrifood systems play an important role in increasing food and nutrition security, reducing poverty, especially in low-income countries (LICs), and meeting climate and environment goals for sustainable development. They are especially important now in the face of rising prices and food insecurity. The World Bank Group uses a variety of instruments to help develop effective agrifood systems, so they are more productive, inclusive, and sustainable. A new evaluation from the Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) looks at a decade’s worth of Bank Group support for agrifood system development and identifies lessons for the future. Agrifood systems comprise three components: the actors involved in the agriculture sector, the activities that these actors engage in, and the larger enabling environment. The actors cover the full range from farmers, agribusiness firms, processors, distributors to consumers. The enabling environment includes the policies, standards, and investments that affect sustainable production and market access. IEG’s report finds that the Bank Group’s interventions in developing agrifood systems in the period between 2010 and 2020 were broadly relevant. But, gaps remain in scaling up and better targeting support to countries that need it the most. The report also found that the interventions were effective overall in improving the productivity, inclusion, and sustainability of agrifood systems. However, this was less so in LICs, particularly in West and Central Africa. This was partly because of the limited capacity, climate shocks, and other challenges that these countries face, especially those in fragile, conflict, and post-conflict situations. In addition, World Bank support for improving productivity was insufficiently diversified toward higher-value products that offer multiple benefits. The agribusiness investments of the Bank Group’s private sector arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), faced challenges in meeting environmental and social (E&S) standards, especially in LICs. The report offers the following recommendations: Combining production and market approaches: Production activities are poorly integrated with markets in many countries, especially LICs and countries at early stage of agrifood system development. Many LICs experience low agricultural productivity, which undercuts their efforts to reduce poverty and improve food security. Given their low productivity and limited access to markets and value chains, smallholders, and small producers in LICs remain poor and vulnerable to various shocks. Many of them struggle to shift from semi-subsistence agriculture to more market‐oriented agrifood enterprises. The Bank Group can help reduce this weak market integration and fragmentation of smallholder production by exploring synergies between interventions that aim to support production activities with those that aim to support improved market access of producers. Interventions aimed at supporting production, i.e., on the supply-side, include improvements to technology, innovations including of digital technologies, delivery of inputs, and irrigation systems. Support for increasing market access, i.e., on the demand-side, includes identifying buyers, developing the needed market infrastructure (for example, storage and aggregation, logistics and cold chains) and facilitating value-chain linkages between smallholder farmers and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with potential buyers in local, regional, and global markets. Access to finance is also key for supporting both production and marketing activities of farms and SME firms. Such a mix of supply and demand-side interventions is particularly important for LICs and countries at early-stage of agrifood system development. The Bank Group can pursue such a  combined approach through multiple avenues, including leveraging synergies across the Bank Group using parallel or sequenced interventions, through partnerships with other agencies, or through coordinated client actions. Diversifying production and cultivating behavioral changes towards sustainable practices and standards: Where conditions allow, the Bank Group should support farmers and agribusiness firms in diversifying their production to also include high-value and more nutritious food products, such as fruit trees, vegetables, food legumes, fish, poultry, and livestock in addition to the traditional staples. Sustainable diversification should benefit smallholder farmers and SMEs, who often find it challenging to diversify their production or agribusiness to include high-value products. This will not only increase their agricultural productivity, but also provide nutritious foods that currently remain undersupplied or largely unaffordable to low-income consumers. Supporting the successful production and marketing of such products will require the Bank Group to provide adequate financing and help producers pay attention to food safety and quality standards so that they can access competitive, regional and global markets. At the same time, it will be important to ensure that the Bank Group also supports farmers and agribusiness firms in adopting sustainability practices. The Bank Group should encourage producers and value-chain actors to adopt climate-smart practices that use less resources, such as land and water, maintain biodiversity, and reduce environmental footprints. Supporting Environmental and Social (E&S) Performance Standards in private sector investments: For private sector investments in agrifood systems supported by the IFC, the report found that when clients possessed the capacity and commitment to address E&S issues, or received support from IFC to do so, there was greater progress in improving their performance on E&S. Clients in LICs, especially, need assistance on recurring challenges (such as in wastewater management and occupational health and safety) and to support the implementation of E&S action plans and the Bank Group Environmental, Health, and Safety Guidelines. IFC could support these clients through loan covenants, tailored advisory services, or blended finance. The above lessons will help the World Bank Group better support its clients in developing agrifood systems that are more productive, inclusive, and sustainable and that can contribute to addressing the current global food crisis. See also: Complementary Interventions for Agrifood System Development – Insights and Lessons

Toward Productive, Inclusive, and Sustainable Farms and Agribusiness Firms

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Toward Productive, Inclusive, and Sustainable Farms and Agribusiness Firms: An Evaluation of the World Bank Group’s Support for the Development of Agrifood Economies (2010–20)
This report assesses the relevance and effectiveness of the World Bank Group’s support to its clients on helping them develop more productive, inclusive, and sustainable farms and agribusiness firms. This report assesses the relevance and effectiveness of the World Bank Group’s support to its clients on helping them develop more productive, inclusive, and sustainable farms and agribusiness firms.

The Natural Resource Degradation and Vulnerability Nexus:

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The Natural Resource Degradation and Vulnerability Nexus:
This evaluation assesses how well the World Bank has addressed natural resource degradation to reduce the vulnerabilities of resource-dependent people. This evaluation assesses how well the World Bank has addressed natural resource degradation to reduce the vulnerabilities of resource-dependent people.

Jamaica: Hurricane Dean Emergency Recovery Loan (PPAR)

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Jamaica is highly exposed to natural disasters. The negative impacts on economic development and social well-being are exacerbated as approximately 82 percent of Jamaica’s population lives within 5 kilometers of the coast, increasing the relative vulnerability of residents, major infrastructure, and the housing stock. Hurricane Dean made landfall in Jamaica on August 19, 2007, causing economic Show MoreJamaica is highly exposed to natural disasters. The negative impacts on economic development and social well-being are exacerbated as approximately 82 percent of Jamaica’s population lives within 5 kilometers of the coast, increasing the relative vulnerability of residents, major infrastructure, and the housing stock. Hurricane Dean made landfall in Jamaica on August 19, 2007, causing economic losses of roughly $329 million. The hurricane resulted in significant and extensive damage to primary and early childhood schools, community-based health clinics, and parochial and agricultural feeder roads in directly impacted parishes. In the aftermath of the hurricane, Jamaica’s Ministry of Finance confirmed that the recovery would require financial support from multiple sources, both national and international. In that context, the government of Jamaica approached the World Bank to support reconstruction works in poor communities affected by Hurricane Dean. The general aim was the reestablishment of prehurricane living conditions in these communities through the implementation of specific local infrastructure projects that would directly improve the conditions of the most vulnerable populations. Given the ongoing emergency, the World Bank and the government of Jamaica agreed to sign an emergency recovery loan to expedite the disbursement of resources. Additionally, the World Bank and the government of Jamaica agreed that the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) would be the implementing agency. Ratings for the Hurricane Dean Emergency Recovery Loan are as follows: Outcome was moderately satisfactory, Risk to development outcome was moderate, Bank performance was moderately satisfactory, and Borrower performance was satisfactory. Lessons from this project include: (i) Using existing agencies with a proven track record can be an effective approach for implementing emergency response projects. (ii) When designing rehabilitation works, close consultation with users can ensure the provision of better services. (iii) Expectations need to be managed as there are limits to how much progress can be made on disaster risk reduction or emergency preparedness under an emergency operation.

Sierra Leone - Completion and Learning Report : IEG Review

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This is a validation of the Completion and Learning Review (CLR) for the World Bank Group’s (WBG) engagement in Sierra Leone covering the Country Assistance Strategy (CAS, FY10-FY13). For completeness and learning purposes, and while the CAS formally expired in FY13, IEG has elected to examine the period FY14-FY19 as well as no CPF was in place to replace the CAS. Owing to data limitations and in Show MoreThis is a validation of the Completion and Learning Review (CLR) for the World Bank Group’s (WBG) engagement in Sierra Leone covering the Country Assistance Strategy (CAS, FY10-FY13). For completeness and learning purposes, and while the CAS formally expired in FY13, IEG has elected to examine the period FY14-FY19 as well as no CPF was in place to replace the CAS. Owing to data limitations and in line with relevant provisions of the Working Arrangements between the Independent Evaluation Group and WBG, IEG’s review does not rate the CAS’s overall development outcome or the World Bank Group’s performance.

Myanmar – Completion and Learning Report : IEG Review

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This review of the World Bank Group’s (WBG) Completion and Learning Review (CLR) covers the period of the Country Partnership Framework (CPF), FY15-FY17, and updated in the Performance and Learning Review (PLR) dated June 2, 2017, which extended the CPF period by two years to FY19. This CPF followed the end-2012 Interim Strategy Note (ISN) that resumed WBG operations after a hiatus of about 25 Show MoreThis review of the World Bank Group’s (WBG) Completion and Learning Review (CLR) covers the period of the Country Partnership Framework (CPF), FY15-FY17, and updated in the Performance and Learning Review (PLR) dated June 2, 2017, which extended the CPF period by two years to FY19. This CPF followed the end-2012 Interim Strategy Note (ISN) that resumed WBG operations after a hiatus of about 25 years. To support the Government’s development efforts, the WBG implemented a major expansion of its activities (a seven-fold increase in the Bank’s portfolio), possibly beyond what the country could absorb. Nevertheless, this support contributed to good progress on farming productivity; on access to electricity, telecommunications, health, education, and finance; and on the business climate. IEG agrees with the lessons drawn by the CLR. These are reformulated and summarized as follows: (i) In an environment of constrained implementation capacity, projects with diverse objectives and multiple implementing agencies may become unwieldy and lead to delays in project implementation. (ii) A results framework that excludes the program’s cross-cutting issues will impede assessment of success in addressing these issues. (iii) Use of country systems, support of key reform champions, and joint analytical work are among the factors that build trust with counterparts and stakeholders. (iv) Access to and coordination of trust fund resources will encourage effective implementation and collaboration across development partners. (v) Good and timely data is critical for evidence-based policy dialogue and timely response to country developments. (vi) A “one WBG” approach is critical to leverage WBG instruments toward specific objectives such as access to electricity. Seventh, more careful attention to indicators, including their sources, baselines, targets and time frames will facilitate program monitoring. (vii) A “disconnect’ between written implementation rules and actual practices in Myanmar, e.g., on procurement, may cause implementation delays. IEG adds the following lesson: Joint Implementation Plans (JIPs5) can improve the effectiveness of the “one WBG” approach noted by the CLR lessons. WBG CPFs normally intend collaboration across the Bank, IFC, and MIGA, but more often than not, CPFs do not spell out how such collaboration is to happen. Myanmar’s CPF JIP to improve access to electricity helped ensure that joint work would materialize. IEG rates the CPF development outcome as Moderately Satisfactory and WBG performance as Good.

Evaluation of the World Bank’s Support to Improving Child Undernutrition and Its Determinants (Approach Paper)

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Global reports on indicators of child undernutrition show mixed progress in reducing the stunting (impaired growth and development) of children under five, with Africa and South Asia most severely affected. There are many determinants of child undernutrition, which makes the challenge of improving outcomes multidimensional, requiring interventions in areas of health; agriculture; water, Show MoreGlobal reports on indicators of child undernutrition show mixed progress in reducing the stunting (impaired growth and development) of children under five, with Africa and South Asia most severely affected. There are many determinants of child undernutrition, which makes the challenge of improving outcomes multidimensional, requiring interventions in areas of health; agriculture; water, sanitation, and hygiene; social protection; education; and governance, depending on the country context. The objectives of this evaluation are to assess the contribution of the World Bank to improving outcomes related to child undernutrition and its determinants in countries affected by undernutrition, and to provide lessons and recommendations to inform the design of the World Bank’s future multidimensional nutrition support.

India - Andhra Pradesh and Telangana State Community-Based Tank Management Project

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This Project Performance Assessment Report assesses the development effectiveness of India’s Andhra Pradesh and Telangana State Community-Based Tank Management Project, which was approved in 2007 and closed in 2016. The development objectives of the project were to (i) improve agricultural productivity with the assistance of selected tank-based producers; and (ii) improve the management of tank Show MoreThis Project Performance Assessment Report assesses the development effectiveness of India’s Andhra Pradesh and Telangana State Community-Based Tank Management Project, which was approved in 2007 and closed in 2016. The development objectives of the project were to (i) improve agricultural productivity with the assistance of selected tank-based producers; and (ii) improve the management of tank systems with the assistance of selected water user associations. Ratings for this review are as follows: Outcome was satisfactory, Risk to development outcome was substantial, Bank performance was moderately satisfactory, and Borrower performance was moderately satisfactory. Lessons from this review include: (i) The potential economic benefits from improved irrigation infrastructure cannot be adequately realized by beneficiaries without the coordinated and ongoing support of multiple government agencies and research extension services in agriculture. (ii) Continued support to WUAs in terms of resources and social intermediation, such as through nongovernmental organizations, is key to enhancing their capacity for improved water management in drought-prone areas. (iii) Benefits from increased water availability can be further increased if cropping decisions by smallholder farmers in drought-prone areas are informed by water budgeting and collective governance principles for sustainable use.

Kazakhstan - Completion and Learning Review : IEG Review

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The Republic of Kazakhstan is a land-locked upper middle-income country with a nominal GNI per capita of $7960 in 2017. The country depends on oil, with production and exports of hydrocarbon accounting for 21 percent of GDP and 62 percent of exports in 2017. Average annual GDP growth declined from 6.5 percent during 2006-2011 to 3.6 percent during the CPS period (2012-17), primarily due to Show MoreThe Republic of Kazakhstan is a land-locked upper middle-income country with a nominal GNI per capita of $7960 in 2017. The country depends on oil, with production and exports of hydrocarbon accounting for 21 percent of GDP and 62 percent of exports in 2017. Average annual GDP growth declined from 6.5 percent during 2006-2011 to 3.6 percent during the CPS period (2012-17), primarily due to deteriorating oil prices after 2013. The fall in oil prices reduced the growth of non-oil activities and the associated gains in wages and employment. Per capita GDP grew at 2.1 percent during the CPS period and contributed to reduce the poverty headcount ratio at national poverty line from 5.5 to 2.5 percent of the population between 2011 and 2017. Income distribution improved, with the Gini index falling from 0.28 in 2011 to 0.275 in 2017. The Human Development Index improved from 0.765 in 2010 to 0.800 in 2017. Kazakhstan key development challenges and goals set in the Strategy 2030 and Strategy 2050 include strengthening macroeconomic management (including strengthening of non-oil sources of revenues), reducing the state presence in the economy, strengthening regional economics through infrastructure and agricultural value chains, ensuring equal access to high quality education, enhancing social protection, managing natural resources, policy regarding water resources and improving governance and public sector capacity.