Evaluation of the impact of the project “Local commercialisation” in Nicaragua.
Background The objective of the project is to improve rural farmers' living conditions through their better access to local markets and strengthening of their organisation around commercialisation issues. This is taking place in a context where farmers' direct participation in accessing local markets are limited, due to structural and market constraints. Small scale Nicaraguan farmers (especially women) are the poorest in the country, but they are not included directly as important actors in the Nicaraguan development plan and priorities. Farmers will continue as farmers. Their main challenge is to have access to local markets, because now they are far from able to compete with the products from United States' farmers due to the substantial asymmetries in terms of production and commercialisation. Purpose/objective The main purpose of the evaluation was to look at achievement of objectives during the first half of the project, namely from 2003 to 2004, and identify recommendations for future strategies in order to secure the successful accomplishment and realisation of objectives of the project. Methodology Methodologically the evaluation process was structured into four distinct phases:Phase 1: Revision of existing information and the references of the project. The compilation and analysis of existing information was the starting point for the evaluation which was done with the partner organisation CIPRES.Phase 2: Preparation for field work and the logistics for the evaluation. The preparations for the survey, including the development of a survey and an evaluation guide was done jointly with the partner organisation, their technical staff, the producers and small-farmers and the consulting team.Phase 3: Participatory field work. The survey among the relevant target group was carried out by applying participatory methods striving towards reaching a maximum amount of beneficiaries.Phase 4: Elaboration, analysis and design of the final product. The information from all the three previous phases was gathered and results, challenges and recommendations were identified. Key findings All the activities have been implemented as planned and the target group have been successfully included in the project activities.- The evaluation shows that the beneficiaries of the project have increased their living standards and their active participation and organisation skills due to project activities.- Although the project shows good results, there is a need to identify more strategic interventions in order to gain increased impacts. Recommendations - More strategic and long-term interventions in the market sphere are needed.- Marketing rather than just commercialisation should be promoted. This will include more focus on labelling, branding, quality, ways of promotion etc.- Integration between rural and urban markets should be increased, by targeting the urban markets specifically in order to spur rural production.- Strategic investments should be made in order to increase competitiveness among small-farmers include micro-irrigation schemes, agro-industrial projects,- Enterprise management centres should be established as a meeting place for local farmers. The centres will be crucial in providing information, in giving capacity building and advice and in assisting in legal and technical matters.- Processing of raw materials should be promoted in order to obtain higher aggregated value in the market place.- More strategic and efficient use of farmland among local farmers should be promoted.- Exchange programmes among farmers should continue as an integral and important part of the project.- Investigate non-agricultural sources of income, such as agro/ecotourism, bakeries, handcrafts or environmental projects.- The post-harvest fund should to a larger extent aim at developing agro-industrial activities. Comments from the organisation Any evaluation is produced within a very limited framework with regards to the composition of the evaluation team, its time available, its access to information and how it analyses the information received. Furthermore, any social reality can be analysed and presented in many different ways, among which an evaluation represents only one. Hence while this evaluation report may be useful as a tool for general learning, it has limited value as a source of information about the particular projects and partners in question. We urge any reader do consult the partners involved or Development Fund before applying this information in a way that may affect the partners and the project.