Rome, 12 December 2022 – IFAD-supported interventions in the Southern regions of Guinea-Bissau have led to the improvement of rice-based production systems, through the rehabilitation and development of lowlands’ rice fields. This, is one of the key findings of the very first Country Strategy and Programme Evaluation (CSPE) of Guinea-Bissau, carried out by the Independent Office of Evaluation of IFAD (IOE). Stakeholders of IFAD-funded operations in the country discussed this and other findings, conclusions and recommendations of the soon-to-be published report during the course of an on-line workshop, on 12 December 2022.
“The partnership with IFAD contributed to improved exploitation of agricultural resources, small-holder food self-sufficiency, and enabling market surpluses. This was achieved through the rehabilitation of low-lands for the intensification of rice cropping systems, based on endogenous knowledge and the introduction of improved farming practices and techniques”, stated Dr. Indran A. Naidoo, IOE Director.
Co-organized by the Government of Guinea-Bissau and IOE, in collaboration with IFAD’s West and Central Africa Division, the workshop brought together high-level attendants, including Kaoussou Diombera, Advisor to the Minister of State in Charge of Agriculture, and Donal Brown, IFAD Associate Vice-President for Programme Management. Over 60 participants joined the online event. Government institutions in attendance included the ministry of agriculture and rural development, the ministry of environment and biodiversity, and the ministry of economy and finances, in addition to the regional government of Buba and technical implementing partner institutions. The workshop also benefitted from inputs of bilateral partners, such as WFP and the European Union Delegation in Bissau, and the participation of non-governmental organizations, civil society organizations, and IFAD management and staff.
In addition to improving rice-based production systems, the projects financed by IFAD also promoted market gardening and innovative social mechanisms. The latter included the establishment of integrated development committees and their financing mechanism, consisting of local development initiative funds. Agricultural research was supported through participatory trials of new rice varieties aimed at facilitating the establishment of a seed sector, and a catalogue of rice varieties was developed, which included local and selected varieties.
“The evaluation found that there is increased rice production in the areas supported, a reduction of difficulties in periods of hunger, possible improvements in household incomes, strengthening of social capital, and emergence of local rural institutions”, explained Dr. Kouessi Maximin Kodjo, IOE Lead Evaluation Officer.
The sustainability of these achievements, however, is called into question. While producer organizations delivered tangible results in terms of the management of collective resources, these groups are still in their infancy, have not been legally formalized, and have a long way to go to act as critical institutions for decentralized development.
“In terms of rice production systems, support was insufficient for the post production segments, namely processing, marketing and access to markets. To this effect, the farmers and grassroots organizations are not at this moment able to provide supporting services to fill the gap linked to weak public institutions”, noted Dr. Naidoo.
The performance of the organizations created is not yet ensured and sustained, given their weak technical and managerial capacities, and the fact that they rely on financial resources mobilized from farmers, which are unfortunately insignificant and unstable. Similarly, the sustainability in the rice-seed supply sub-sector still appears fragile, since the purchase of seeds produced by trained farmers is solely ensured by IFAD-funded projects.
“The evaluation found very low capacities on the part of organizations, lack of water all-year-round in the garden fields, and lack of governmental budget-programmes for anchorage of projects, which are issues that weaken the sustainability of the benefits”, highlighted Dr. Kodjo.
The diversifying of farmers income sources and the protection of ecosystems neighbouring lowland fields are other issues of concern. Indeed, activities promoted in the wetland rice-growing fields did not consider the protection of the vegetation cover of adjacent mangroves and watersheds.
“There remain considerable challenges in a number of areas, which need to be improved, such as sustainability, impact on rural poverty, natural resource management, climate change, innovation and scaling-up of achieved results”, summarized Donal Brown, IFAD Associate Vice-President for Programme Management.
Workshop participants recognized the recommendations put forth by the CSPE, including the need to prioritise ecosystem and natural resource management alongside climate change adaptation in the next COSOP. Equally important will be the development of agricultural systems in the wetlands of the regions supported, and the reduction of gender inequalities through the promotion of economic opportunities for women, functional literacy, and management and skills training.
“We continue to count on the technical and financial assistance of our partners, such as IFAD, to combat poverty in rural areas. The financing of IFAD’s projects will make a significant contribution to reducing poverty of rural populations and enable us to combat unemployment”, affirmed Kaoussou Diombera, Advisor to the Minister of State in Charge of Agriculture, speaking on behalf of H.E. Aladje Botche Candé.
With a Gross Domestic Product per capita of US$ 494, Guinea-Bissau is among the poorest countries in the world. Agriculture is central to the economy. Two crops dominate: rice for domestic consumption and cashew nuts, which generate 95% of the country’s exports, as a cash crop. Over-reliance on growing cashew nuts has exposes two-third of the population to economic shocks. Diversification, either by moving up the value chain, or improving agricultural technology and access to markets, will be essential to achieve sustained growth and combat poverty.
For further information, please contact Alexander Voccia [here]
- To access the CSPE Executive Summary, please click here.
- To access the CSPE infographic, please click here.
- To access the CSPE workshop presentation, please click here.