Stakman-Borlaug Center selects completed USDA projects for sustainability assessment

Working in collaboration with the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service and The Improve Group, the Stakman-Borlaug Center (SBC) has identified the three closed Food for Progress agriculture assistance projects that will be given a sustainability assessment.

Each year Food for Progress, a program within the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, strengthens the agricultural sectors of developing countries and emerging democracies. The two principal objectives are improving agricultural productivity and expanding trade of agricultural products. Currently, 26 countries have active projects and completed projects in many more. While the program has done everything from training farmers to developing agricultural value chains, it can be difficult to determine if the activities these started by these projects continued after the program ended.

In November, the SBC received funding to conduct a two-year evaluation to determine the sustainability of three completed Food for Progress projects. This sustainability assessment will identify if, and to what extent, Food for Progress development activities and recommended practices have been sustained since the project's end, and what practices growers have or plan to continue. Assessment results will help shape future Food for Progress activities.

The three projects chosen are in Guatemala, Sri Lanka, and Benin. The SBC, along with their evaluation partners at The Improve Group, will explore the following questions related to these three projects:

  • What existing conditions are needed for sustainability?
  • What factors of the project’s design lead to sustainability?
  • What factors about the implementation lead to sustainability?
  • To what extent have project activities or (knowledge, attitude, behavior) continued?
  • To what extent have project impacts (positive or negative) continued?

The SBC and The Improve Group will be working with the implementing partners in these countries and the USDA/FAS to refine their evaluation plans and questions.

Guatemala

This project focused on increasing agricultural knowledge and improving livelihoods of agricultural producers in rural communities in Guatemala. Counterpart International sought to achieve this by improving the capacity Guatemalan Ministry of Agriculture's formal extension agents and certified non-governmental agricultural advisers, expanding the financial services available to agricultural producers, and increasing the organizational capacity of local cooperatives representing smallholder producers.

Sri Lanka

This project led by World Vision International focused on training farmers and farmer leaders in “Integrated Farming and Sustainable Agriculture” technology. This included improving soil fertility, integrated pest management, and improving animal husbandry and aquaculture practices. Objectives of this project included improving production and marketing capacity, and business development skills for farmers.

Benin

The Growing Resources for the Enhanced Agricultural Enterprises and Nutrition (GREEN) project, led by Partners for Development worked with Beninese farmers’ associations to train vegetable growers in improved production techniques and postharvest management, and provided access to financial services while improving understanding of market-driven production.

The SBC also will work closely with their affiliated faculty to identify faculty, staff, and student experts in these areas who can provide technical insights and guidance to the evaluators, as well as participate in field visits and data collection.