CALL title banner
Handbook 10-10
Nov 2009

Chapter 7

Project Selection and Implementation

"People in the development business all too often approach poverty issues with a preconceived set of ideas about what works and what is needed. When you do this, you are making a mistake."

-Dr. Paul Polak, Out of Poverty: What Works
When Traditional Approaches Fail

Once the agribusiness development team (ADT) establishes a working relationship with the Afghan agribusiness community, determining specific projects commences. With assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA); the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID); the Afghan provincial Director of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock; and possibly nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), the next step is to identify, develop, and implement a comprehensive and sustainable agribusiness development strategy with clear measures of effectiveness (MOEs) focused on improving the agriculture economy of the province. Projects should:

  • Support productive farms by:
    • Improving access to technology.
    • Improving access to capital.
    • Improving market access.
    • Mitigating losses from natural disasters.
  • Support secure and affordable food and fiber by:
    • Providing adequate, secure storage capacity that maintains quality.
    • Protecting agriculture production and food supply.
    • Improving delivery of agriculture related assistance.
  • Conserve natural resources and enhancing the environment by:
    • Improving conservation practices.
    • Restoring cropland and infrastructure.
    • Mitigating adverse impacts from agricultural production.

Method for Developing a Project that Works

The crucial first step in identifying a project is the one that is normally missed by almost all development agencies. Before beginning any project, take time to learn and understand the problems from the point of view of the Afghans who will be affected. Things to consider include the following:

  • Establish friendly relationships. Have tea together; get to know each other.
  • Do not conduct the interview entirely indoors. Walk with the Afghan farmer through his fields. Keep your eyes open and try not to have preconceived notions about what does or does not work. This is where you get ideas about how to help.
  • You must ask questions, but they require a sense of timing. With your uniform and protective gear on, you can be an intimidating figure. Trust takes time to develop. Often when there is trust, the solutions appear quite easily.
  • When discussing possible projects, include all effects (e.g., a slaughter house, waste disposal, and sanitation).
  • Agriculture concepts are foreign to most Afghan farmers. The farmers do not understand the conservation of natural resources. They believe that Allah-provided soil, water, grass, and other resources will always be there for them.

As you get to know the Afghan farmer, ask him questions in the following areas:


  • Crops:
    • What crops are growing?
    • When does he plant them?
    • When does he harvest them?
    • What fertilizer does he use?
    • What pests must he deal with?
    • Does he grow these crops to eat or to sell? If both, how much to eat and how much to sell?
  • Livestock:
    • What kind does he have (chickens, sheep, goats, etc.)?
    • What does he gain from livestock (eggs, meat, wool, etc.)? (Check to see if livestock are growing as they should.)
    • How successful are his husbandry practices? Are there any problems?
    • Is veterinary care available?
  • Sources of irrigation:
    • Does he depend totally on rainfall or snowmelt, or is there some form of irrigation?
    • If there is no irrigation (water sources are a major barrier to development), what kind of irrigation could he use?
    • What streams run year round?
    • Is there ground water?
      • How deep is it? (Tie a rock to a string to find out.)
      • How low does it get at different times of the year?
      • How many wells are in the village?

As you interview the farmer, mentally draw circles around his family and around the village. What comes in? What goes out?

Real World Example from an Agribusiness Development Team

The ADT once approached an Afghan village with the idea of establishing a business to sell micro-drip irrigation systems. The ADT had recent success with this program in another location and knew what worked. However, while establishing relationships with the local villagers and following the process described above, the ADT learned the real problem affecting these villagers had to do with raising pigs. The women of the village were responsible for raising the piglets they purchased from the "lowlanders." Many of the piglets had died, which was a great source of shame and social turmoil and was also economically devastating to the village.

The ADT discovered the lowlanders were selling sick and weak piglets to the villagers. Instead of proceeding with its plan to establish a business to sell micro-drip irrigation systems, the ADT launched into a program to purchase and raise healthy pigs. It spent $100 to bring in a vet and encouraged the farmers to change the pigs' diet (they were feeding good protein to their dogs and not to the pigs).

The ADT taught the villagers to raise their own pigs, and they eventually sold these pigs to the lowlanders. It was both an economic and social success. The point is, if the ADT had decided to go with its initial plan, it never would have engaged the local Afghans properly and discovered what help they actually needed. The ADT cannot emphasize enough how important it is to take time to learn and understand the problems from the point of view of the Afghans who will be affected before identifying potential projects.

Agrifood Chain

As you consider the dynamics of a potential project, look at its place in the agrifood chain process. Where does it fit? What will be the benefit of the project? What are the impacts of that project on the other parts of the agrifood chain process? For example, inputs and production are the start points, but are the processing and distribution parts of the chain in place to support at the right time and place? In most cases the consumption is there, but if the products cannot reach the consumer, the project may be the wrong project. However, if local consumption is available and minimal processing and distribution are required, maybe the project on a smaller scale is the right approach as the means to developing for future expansion while the other links in the agrifood chain are developed to enable distribution beyond the local community.

Measures of Agribusiness Development Team Project Effectiveness

Measurements of project effectiveness are important because they enable:

  • Planning for future projects.
  • Comparison with similar projects.
  • Calculating progress.
  • Securing future resources (funding, manpower, and technology).
  • Conducting additional analysis, such as trend analysis.
  • Determining contribution to warfight.

Measurements should be:

  • Simple
  • Fast
  • Easy
  • Quantitative (numerical)
  • Useful
  • Relevant
  • Standardized
  • Flexible
  • Allow for context (situation dictates)

Measurements should not:

  • Interfere with ADT operations.
  • Be an end in themselves.
  • Be time consuming or complex.
  • Be subjective.
  • Require extensive equipment or training.

Agribusiness Development Team Project Data Collection and Reporting Techniques

Justification of project

This builds on the principle of "talk to as many people as you can before beginning any project." It should be a concise, one-paragraph or one-page explanation of the problem and the expected benefits of the project.

Before-and-after pictures

One of the simplest and most powerful tools is the before-and-after picture. If a desert area is transformed to a lush pasture, what more needs to be said? Pictures can be used for public relations articles and briefings and as sales pitches to farmers for new ADT projects.

Cost to U.S. government

This standardized measurement should already be part of every project. Just include the total cost of the project in the project folder. Additional costs may be helpful and instructive (i.e., Islamic Republic of Afghanistan [IROA], farmer contributions, NGOs, donations, etc.), but these will be difficult to compare across projects. If these figures are available, include them as well. They may be used later but are not critical now.

Start date and end date

This is another basic measurement. The amount of time spent on any particular project is easy to compare to other projects. In addition, since many projects cannot be completed in one rotation, projects without an end date will not be compared against projects that have already been completed.

Estimate of the number of people impacted

As the heading states, this is an estimate only. It is much more difficult to calculate and requires a thorough understanding of the concept of agriculture food chains. If a grape trellising program helps 10 farmers but also includes 2 villagers who started a trellising company, then the project has affected 12 people. If a resulting grape surplus leads to the development of a new raisin business and a man is hired to transport the raisins to market, these people need to be factored in as well. This is a difficult estimate, but it lies at the very heart of what agribusiness teams are designed to accomplish. While there is an element of subjectivity to this estimate, especially if the project is very successful, the resulting numerical value will be quantitative and enable comparisons to be made across projects. A brief justification letter (no more than one page) should accompany the estimate of the number of people impacted to allow for flexibility and consideration of the project in context with the local situation.

Net change in average annual income

This number is also an estimate and is perhaps the single most important measurement of effectiveness, but it takes some prior planning. As a project is in its development stage and the ADT is meeting regularly with local farmers and agribusiness leaders, be sure to ask them how much money they made last year. After the project is completed, ask them again how much money they made. This is not a taboo subject if rapport has been established, usually after a few cups of tea. Be respectful; timing is important. Ask just enough people to get a good idea of how much money people are really making. However, you do have to plan to get the data. For standardization purposes, the data is expressed in terms of annual income. The delta of dollars per year averaged among the people impacted by the project is the number you want. When asking this question, it is important to remember that the recognized standard for global poverty is less than one dollar per day or $365 per year. If you can demonstrate that a project helped a local Afghan earn more than $365 per year, you can say that you have "lifted him out of poverty." This is a true statement and an extremely powerful one to make.

Benefit to community

The number of people affected multiplied by the net change in annual income equals the benefit to the community. This should be a dollar figure. For example, if 1,000 villagers increase their annual income by $200 per year, then we can say, "This particular project benefitted this community by $200,000 per year." This is by no means a perfect measurement, but it is standard, useful, and simple to determine. It is also intuitively satisfying and, therefore, useful for press releases, information briefs, and presentations of all kinds.

After action review (AAR)

This is one of the most powerful diagnostic tools the Army possesses. It enables lessons to be learned and passed on. It is flexible and provides context, and everyone has been trained how to do it. One key feature of the ADT AAR is that it should address the initial justification of the project: Did the project solve the identified problem? Did it meet the expected benefits of the project? Why or why not?

ADT Project Analysis

The following project examples illustrate one kind of analysis from data collected. These numbers have been completely fabricated and are not based on actual data. The intent is to show how this information could be used.

  • Slaughter house. This was a project completed relatively quickly but cost a great deal of money. It increased the annual income of approximately 78 locals from $250 per year (which is below the poverty rate of $365 per year) to an average of $575 per year (a delta of $325). Thus, 78 people were lifted from poverty. The benefit of this project to the community is $25,350 per year.
  • Windmill. The windmill was very quick to manufacture and cost relatively little. However, since it was built on the forward operating base, it provides no power to Afghan homes. It did directly benefit eight Afghans by teaching skills they can use elsewhere to make money. The benefit of this project to the community is $600 per year.
  • Diversion dam. This medium-scale irrigation project required significant U.S. inputs in money, materiel, and expertise. However, the benefits to the local population are quite significant. Hundreds of local farmers are sharing in this new and improved water resource. Crop yields have nearly doubled, and there have been significant increases in sales at the local bazaar and even some exports to other villages. We estimate that 450 farmers have increased their annual income from $250 per year to an average of $410 per year. The benefit of this project to the community is $72,000 per year.
  • Micro-juice processing. Taking advantage of a seasonal glut of pomegranates and some ultra-low-cost juicing technology, several teams of Afghans have been trained to manufacture machines that can press the juice, bag it, and seal it under sterile conditions. These teams have produced dozens of the micro factories throughout the village. Farmers are benefitting from finding outlets to their surplus crops, the teams that make the juice machines have plenty of work, and the salesmen are making very good profits on the juice because it is a high demand item. We estimate that 220 villagers have increased their annual income from $250 per year to an average of $600 per year. The benefit of this project to the community is $77,000.

ADT projects must be integrated into value chains (what is the full value [primary and secondary] added) and be aligned with and support the following:

  • Afghanistan developmental structure
  • U.S. Agriculture Assistance Strategy for Afghanistan Fiscal Year 2009-2010
  • Provincial Development Plan
  • Brigade commander's counterinsurgency campaign plan

Project selection is based on the following:

  • Feasibility
  • Sustainability by the Afghans
  • Impact (population, production, and resource management)
  • Return on investment (human capacity and financial)

The key tasks for project determination include the following:

  • Build relationships with provincial and district leadership and interagency partners (USDA, USAID, and reach-back organizations).
  • Understand the culture and sociological influences.
  • Conduct detailed provincial agriculture assessments.
  • Produce a priority projects plan based on long-term and short-term wins.
  • Develop MOEs.
  • Establish and/or enhance agricultural markets.
  • Set the conditions for follow-on ADTs.

Project Implementation

The following chart depicts flow of an idea for a project into a completed project:

Graphic showing Graphic showing ADT project flow chart

Legend:
ID: Identify
CERPSAF: TF Salerno finance office CERP project reference number
QA: Quality assurance
QC: Quality control


Figure 7-1. ADT project flow chart

Project Tracking

Once a project is selected, there are two types of projects for tracking: those projects for which Commander's Emergency Response Program funding has been approved and those projects that are unfunded.

TX ADT-01 Projects to be Committed by 15 August 2008

Project

Town

Total Cost ($)

Paid Out ($)

Balance ($)

Current Status

Contract

Demo farm

Jungal Bagh

~198,000

0.00

198,000

Solicitation

?

Check dams

Khwaja Omarie (river basin)

180,000

0.00

180,000

Preparing contract for solicitation

?

Slaughter house

Shams
village
(NW Ghazni)

199,950

0.00

197,000

Preparing contract for solicitation

?

Dry storage

West Ghazni

100,000

0.00

100,000

Site visit
29 July

?

Experimental farm

Ghazni

199,950

0.00

199,000

Contract being built

?

Grape
drying (5)

Ghazni

150,000

0.00

150,000

Working with DAIL on information

?

FLAG intl

Ghazni

150,000

0.00

150,000

Meet with FLAG

?

University of Ghazni

Ghazni

100,000

0.00

100,000

Awaiting input from Kabul University and DAIL

?

CERP total
4BCT-ADT CERP balance
BCT-ADT noncommitted CERP balance
(returned to brigade)

$1,274,000
$2,460,776
$1,186,776


Figure 7-2. Sample funded project tracking matrix

Projected Follow-On CERP Projects FY 09

Project

Town

Estimated Amount ($)

Projected Timeframe

Current Status

Demo farm (Nawur)

Douabi

200,000

Sep-Oct

Need site visit to view location/coordinate with local governance

Demo farm (Malistan)

Malistan

200,000

Sep-Oct

Need site visit to view location/coordinate with local governance

Dry storage

Jagori

100,000

Oct/FY 09

Need site visit to view location/coordinate with local governance

Food process

Ghazni

100,000

?

Need to revisit

 Juice/jelly
 factory

Ghazni

200,000

Spring 09/
FY 09

Working research

 Cashmere/wool
 distro center

Ghazni

200,000

Spring 09/
FY 09

Working research

Feed mill

Ghazni

200,000

Fall 08
FY 09

Researching feasibility

Poultry

Ghazni

200,000

Fall 08/
FY 09

Must have feed mill first

Dairy

vic Ghazni

200,000

Fall 08/
FY 09

Nonsustainable without feed mill


Figure 7-3. Sample unfunded project tracking matrix

The following are two examples of project selection and implementation:

  • Watershed management. Since water is vital to all life and Afghanistan's water challenges are significant, understanding the Afghan water cycle and specifically how underground aquifers provide surface water is critical to project selection and implementation. Afghans believe that drilling wells is the answer to their water problem. To the contrary, wells actually hurt surface water levels by disrupting the natural cycle of recharging by way of snowmelt and surface run off. Overdrilling to provide "quick wins" for farmers is depleting the aquifers' ability to recharge and is dramatically dropping underground water tables. Surface water management must be comprehensive, addressed with long-term solutions, and not rely on wells to meet the farmers' water needs. The solution is not to drill wells without comprehensive studies of the aquifers.
Graphic showing Graphic showing The water cycle
Figure 7-4. The water cycle
  • Check dams. Surface water management projects such as check dams slow water flow, reduce soil erosion, and increase available surface water, which enable pooling (Figures 7-5 and 7-6) and facilitate aquifer recharge. One ADT found its system of check dams actually increased farmers' access to water for irrigating crops by an additional 30 days, which allowed their crops to remain in the field longer and resulted in an enhanced crop quality and yield. In addition, watersheds along the check dams were reseeded to restore the vital grass necessary for reversing soil erosion.
Graphic showing Graphic showing Check dam with gabion baskets
Figure 7-5. Check dam with gabion baskets
Graphic showing Graphic showing Check dam with pooling
Figure 7-6. Check dam with pooling

Other projects include the following:

  • Afghanistan watersheds. The following map is an example of resources available on the Internet that can be helpful for managing water resources. Additionally, records regarding temperature, rain and snow fall, and maps of the same are important tools to assist ADTs identify projects.
Graphic showing Graphic showing Afghanistan watersheds
Figure 7-7. Afghanistan watersheds
  • Education programs. Like water management, education projects must be comprehensive, target natural resource conservation, and be integrated as a value chain. For example, programs that target Afghan secondary education-age students who are taught a conservation-based curriculum are supported by an ADT demonstration farm that teaches and shows students the value of conserving natural resources. Figure 7-8 shows an example of a demonstration farm.

Market Surveys

Market surveys are extremely important in determining supply and demand and other areas such as market conditions and security. The surveys should be done with vendors and their suppliers and with the people who shop in the markets. Farm extension agents should have sample surveys for the ADTs to use in developing their own surveys. It is important this information be available to assist when conducting key leader engagements with Afghan government and provincial government officials, agriculture educators, agribusiness leaders, and farmers. Figure 7-9 is an example of a market survey.

Graphic showing Graphic showing ADT demonstration farm diagram
Figure 7-8. ADT demonstration farm diagram
Graphic showing Example of a market survey
Figure 7-9. Example of a market survey

Conclusion

What do the Afghan farmers and agribusinesses need? If you can successfully assist them in filling those needs, can they sustain them?

  • If the need is equipment or mechanical, does the farmer have access to repair parts; if it requires gas and oil, does he have an accessible supply; does he have the money to keep it going; and does he have the tools and/or technical knowledge and understanding to repair and maintain it?
  • If the need is food storage, does it require refrigeration? Can security from disease, spoilage, insects, and animals be guaranteed?
  • Do the means to transport for distribution and sale exist? Can it be maintained? Is it impacted by weather?

Always keep in mind this question: Is the project sustainable by the farmer after the ADT departs?



 

Last Reviewed: May 18, 2012

 
          |   Privacy and Security Notice   |     |   Accessibility Help   |   External Link Disclaimer   |   No Fear Act   |
 
|   U.S. Army   |   Tradoc   TRADOC   |   iSALUTE   | Ft. Leavenworth   |   Site Map   |   FOIA   |   USA.GOV   |   This is an official U.S. Army Site   |