|Description of Project Outputs
Increased participation of the project beneficiaries and other stakeholders in planning, monitoring, and evaluation through: (a) conducting participatory rural appraisals (PRAs), and (b)conducting semi-annual and annual review and planning (SARP) at village, commune, district, and project levels.
Improved access of farmers to information and knowledge on advanced agricultural production and marketing practices through (a) establishing demonstration models for key food and cash crops and small livestock; (b) training farmers' groups on improved farming and income generating techniques for food and cash crops, and livestock; (c) improving linkage between farmers' groups and existing credit programs; and (d) establishing demonstration sites for participatory micro-irrigation management models.
Enhanced knowledge and skills of extension agents on agricultural knowledge and technology, extension management, and participatory approaches through: (a) providing training of trainers for local government extension staff and commune extension workers, and (b) preparing operational plans for extension activities by farmers' groups, communes, district agricultural extension centers (DAECs), and provincial agricultural extension centers (PAECs).
Established farmer-to-farmer networks aiming at encouraging the exchanges of experiences and knowledge among farmers through: (a) establishing a farmer extension network in each district; (b) fostering farmer extension network leaders; and (c) conducting farmer forums, study tours, and exchange visits.
Effective project coordination mechanisms and smooth project implementation through: (a) preparing office space and equipment, and assigning government counterpart staff, (b) establishing project coordination committees (PCCs) and holding PCC meetings, and (c) preparing and submitting annual work plans and quarterly progress reports.
|Status of Implementation Progress (Outputs, Activities, and Issues)
The Project produced satisfactory reports and technical documents. These included manuals for PRAs, SARP, and training for extension agents. These manuals were expected to improve the sustainability of the project outcome. Through PRAs and stakeholder consultations at the inception stage, the output performance indicators were clarified and refined to monitor the project performance in more practical and effective ways and fit local geographical situations. This enabled the Project to deliver satisfactory performance of the indicators. Three farmers' groups in each village were organized in a participatory manner and a total of 180 farmers' groups were operational at the end of the Project. Each group introduced one or more of pro-poor farming models (e.g., improved rice farming with pill fertilizer, hybrid maize cultivation, poultry raising, and pig raising). Requiring relatively low inputs, these models appeared suitable for poor farmers. Two micro-irrigation schemes in Hoc village, Chau Dinh commune, Qui Hop district were rehabilitated and farmers' groups committed to manage their schemes. In addition, the Project, on the one hand, trained local extension agents. The Project also fostered dedicated farmer leaders for farmer-to-farmer networks, on the other, although the networks were voluntary and informal and required further support from PAECs and DAECs. The demonstration models were disseminated by the activities of the farmer leaders. They connected farmers' groups with each other, as well as with local governments' extension staff and commune extension workers. The target villages were sparsely located; nonetheless, the Project could deliver inputs and generate outputs by facilitating project activities at the village level through the nexus of extension agents, community-based farmers' groups, and farmer-to-farmer networks. The Project, therefore, was efficient.
Detailed work plans for project activities were developed and updated through PRAs and SARP processes. These participatory and iterative processes improved the practical project implementation. The SARP process ensured that introduced techniques were fit for villagers' needs, and that technical problems encountered by farmers were addressed in a timely manner. The Project noted that farmers could access credit through Vietnam Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development, Bank for Social Policy, or People Credit Fund. So, the Project monitored the situation to see if farmers could access to existing financial institutions. By emphasizing the importance of leaning by doing, the Project succeeded in providing target farmers with hands-on experiences and eventually confidence and self-reliance in their farming. Widely shared simple methodology for SARP was thought to improve farmers' participation. Beneficiaries appreciated new farming techniques introduced by the Project. The Project, therefore, was effective.
The Project also succeeded in motivating local staff by sharing the objectives and importance of the Project. PAECs and DAECs expanded the agricultural extension activities introduced by the Project to other districts or communes and other agricultural development projects in their jurisdiction. Representatives PAECs, DAECs, and commune people's committees were committed to sustain the project outcome and some project activities were incorporated into their development plans. These movements would enhance the sustainability of the project outcome. In addition, the EA organized a national workshop where promising demonstration models and lessons learned were disseminated to the central and local government staff including staff in other provinces and project staff of ASTP, and representatives of other NGOs. The project outcome would be sustained if DAECs, PAECs, and NAFEC could continue to support extension staff and workers who would in turn support farmers' groups, farmers' leaders, and farmer-to-farmer networks.
The Project showed that the improved community-based agriculture extension system were viable in mountainous areas in the northern central region. The Project delivered needed extension services to the project beneficiaries through the system. The beneficiaries appreciated some practical farming practices introduced in demonstration sites by the Project. The extension system, together with the linkages with existing credit institutions which would provide fund for agricultural inputs, was expected to contribute to food security and income generation in the project area. The Project, therefore, is rated successful.