Dr Sanginga said he was delighted that the project was on track, and of the achievements so far recorded since its inception in 2012. “I am quite impressed by what you have achieved so far in terms of new varietal commodities, technology disseminated, value addition to commodities and how they are changing lives, generating income and employment for the people,” he said.
The evaluation was conducted, according to the Director General, in order to have an update of the progress the SARD-SC project was making in the areas of technology dissemination, preparation for the Mid Term Review (MTR), and financial standing of the project and to discuss possible solutions to any implementation challenges. The DG said: “ The SARD-SC project is very important, not because it has a huge budget but in terms of the impact it is designed to have on the productivity of and income from the value chains of the commodities you work with and the lives of the people. This is a project which allows us to assess the impact of some of our mandate crops –Cassava, rice, maize and wheat- and in places it is executed. It is one project that helps to maintain strong IITA relationships with the AFDB.
The evaluation exercise started with Dr. Chrys Akem, Project Coordinator, presenting an overview of the activities and achievements of the project on cassava, maize, rice and wheat value chains. He went on to highlight their impacts on the livelihoods of many in the project target countries. His presentation also highlighted new varietal development of the 4 target commodities and their dissemination to farmers and farmer groups. He also spoke of the project’s distribution of better quality cassava stems to farmers, improvements in mechanization of production systems for all the commodities, and infrastructural development with the building of cassava processing centers in DR Congo, Tanzania, Zambia and Sierra Leone. He pointed out how the establishment of these processing centers has led to new products development (confectionery baked with cassava flour) hitherto unknown in some of these countries. Consequently, it has fostered a strong sense of community engagement for all in the communities, especially the women populace. Included in his presentation was an update on the procurement and financial status of the project.
Dr. Akem intimated the management that the project activities have been aligned with IITA Refreshed Strategy in the areas of: Increase food security and availability; Increased profitability of food products and Sustainability of natural resource management. It was not all a rosy picture for the project, as he revealed some of the challenges the Project Management Unit contends with in areas of procurement and financial disbursement, while also pointing out the opportunities that the project has going forward as it takes on its MTR review.
The DG commended Dr. Akem for “a very comprehensive presentation.” He urged the project team to ensure they used the forth coming MTR as an opportunity to input their recommendations into the Bank’s final documents. Thereafter, members of the management team took turns at making comments and asking pertinent questions for clarifications from the project coordinator and members of his team on seemingly grey areas of the presentation. Mr. Sholola commended the team for effective financial management and controls while Mr. Akuffo – Akotto advised the project team to ensure the sustainability of the structures built in the SARD-SC project areas. Dr Hillbur encouraged the project team to continue with strong linkages with other institutional projects.