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Chapter 5 - Identifying solutions to problems


Problem analysis
Brainstorming for problems
Problem checklist
Problem tree diagram
Objectives analysis
Analysis of strategy alternatives and project identification
Participant analysis
Summary of project identification
Criteria for establishing priorities
Project profiles
General observations on the use of CSAM and project profiles

Now that the CSAM has facilitated a better understanding of a commodity system and its problems, it is easier to identify possible solutions. The Interdisciplinary Team will have identified and described the principal characteristics of the participants and their actions throughout the commodity system. As this team obtains information about the characteristics of pre-production, production, harvest, postharvest, and marketing, each member will begin to decide what is working well within the system and what is not. The team members will be able to link problems and their causes with particular participants - e.g., farmers, intermediaries, companies, organizations, institutions, and others. This information, when properly organized and analyzed, will lead to the design of solutions, expressed in the form of projects.

The objective of this chapter is to present some instruments which will facilitate the identification and organization of problems and their causes, and the design of solutions.

Problem analysis

Problems occur at all points in any commodity system and come in all sizes. Small problems occurring on the farm - e.g., poor pruning and improper harvesting - may become very large problems in the marketplace when the produce cannot be sold due to poor quality. Someone who observes a farmer in the marketplace unable to sell his produce might conclude that the problem is in the market. In fact, the inability to market a product is usually an indicator of problem(s) in the commodity system. Unless we know the root problem and its causes, we cannot design effective solutions.

Any analysis of problems affecting commodity systems must necessarily look for causes in each component of the respective commodity system.

Problem analysis has been defined [Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ), 1983] as a set of techniques to:

· analyze the existing situation surrounding a given problem condition,
· identify the major problems and the core problem of a situation, and
· visualize the cause-effect relationships in a Problem Tree diagram.

The starting point in problem analysis, therefore, should be the identification of as many of the related problems as possible and their respective causes.

As should be apparent from any analysis of a commodity system, the problems vary in accordance with the type of participant. Farmers, for example, may have problems related to land, labor, information, financial resources, cultural practices, management, markets, and many more. The farmers' problems are likely to cover the full range, from planning all the way through the system to marketing.

Problems experienced by intermediaries and traders begin at the farm gate, although in many cases the causes of the problems are linked with preharvest factors. The types of problems affecting intermediaries are more likely to relate to operating capital, communications with suppliers, regularity in supplies, quality of produce, infrastructure, packaging materials, and transportation.

Public sector institutions may have internal constraints caused by local politics, staffing problems, deficient resources, contradictory sectoral policies, poor leadership, and many more. Farmers' groups and other private sector organizations may not be achieving their objectives due to poor organization and management, or problems related to staff, working capital, infrastructure, equipment and others.

The more in-depth the commodity system analysis carried out, the greater the number of problems and causes identified. The purpose of the detailed description of a commodity system is to provide an information base for problem identification. If each member of the Interdisciplinary Team is experienced and knowledgeable in his/her particular area, and if the description of the commodity system is carried out in detail, then conditions will be set for a problem brainstorming session.

Brainstorming for problems

Brainstorming for problems in a commodity system can be facilitated if the participants are brought together in a comfortable and informal setting with a discussion leader and rapporteur. While the group leader stimulates discussion, the rapporteur lists all the problems and causes of problems suggested by the participants. At this stage the problems are listed as they arise, in no particular order.

Brainstorming sessions should be carried out with all members of the Interdisciplinary Team after each has had ample opportunity to review the available information on the commodity system. The group leader must insure that the problems presented are existing ones, not potential or anticipated ones or personal opinions.

During the brainstorming session, members of the Interdisciplinary Team will suggest problems and causes of problems negatively affecting a particular commodity system. During this process, one suggestion will lead to another, creating a cross-fertilization of ideas. Once the respective team members have exhausted their supply of ideas, the recorder will produce a listing of all the problems. This list should be distributed to each participant for review and modification and a final list should be prepared.

Problem checklist

Once the brainstorming session is completed, the Interdisciplinary Team may choose to review the checklist of Potential Problems presented in Annex 11. Since this is a rather long list, it could take several hours or days to analyze point by point. To avoid inappropriate use of scarce time, the checklist should be reviewed quickly by each team member, to jog the memory, with the purpose of identifying important problems or causes of problems that may have been overlooked in the brainstorming session.

The checklist may also be used as a format to summarize problems as shown in Table 5.1 or to serve as a guide in organizing the problems from the brainstorming exercise by particular components of the commodity system. By grouping the problems according to their respective points in the commodity system, the team puts them in a perspective which contributes to understanding of cause and effect relationships.

The priority problems identified in Table 5.1 were obtained as follows: First, an interdisciplinary team of fruit production and marketing specialists carried out a brainstorming session to identify the problems affecting the production and marketing of paw paw (papaya) in Barbados. A very long list of problems was obtained which was then reordered following the guideline checklist in Annex 11. The same team of specialists then reviewed the complete list of problems to identify those of highest priority. These were then listed as presented in Table 5.1. The point in the system where the problem occurs and the nature of that problem are presented in the first column of Table 5.1. More specific details of the problem are indicated in the last column on the right. In this latter case, details should be included showing how the problem affects quality, quantity, price or availability of product. The details have been simplified in Table 5.1 due to space constraints.

Table 5.1: Priority problems in the production of paw paw (papaya) in Barbados*

POINT IN THE COMMODITY SYSTEM WHERE PROBLEM OCCURS

INDICATE PRIORITY PROBLEMS (X)

SUMMARIZE PROBLEMS IMPACTING QUALITY, QUANTITY, PRICE OR OF COMMODITY

AGRICULTURAL POLICY:


- credit

X

no loan portfolios for bull


- planning

X

bias towards non-food crops, e.g., cotton

INSTITUTIONAL ASPECTS


- staff (MOA and BMC)

X

too few to provide necessary services

ENVIRONMENT


- soil

X

heavy soils in project area

PRE-PRODUCTION:


- irrigation systems

X

not available at production size


- packing houses

X

none available


- planting material

X

susceptible to bunchy top disease

CROP CHARACTERISTICS:


- uniformity of size

X

fruits cover wide range of size

PRODUCTION


- farm inputs

X

proper type unavailable


- technical know-how

X

proper techniques unknown


- water

X

poor distribution of rainfall


- labor

X

expensive, scarce, low yields

HARVEST

X

tool inadequate, techniques unknown

POSTHARVEST HANDLING


- on-farm handling

X

lack of proper knowledge of handling/packing


- packing shed

X

facilities not available

PROCESSING




- insufficient supply

X

low domestic supply


- infrastructure

X

no facilities for canning/freezing

MARKETS/MARKETING


- demand

X

market potential unknown


- supply

X

prices too high


- air transport

X

very expensive

CONSUMPTION


- local

X

competition with imports of temperate fruit


- external

X

lack information or markets

* Note: The data for this table was prepared by going through the problem checklist in Annex 11. Only the priority problems checked with an "X" are summarized here.

Problem tree diagram

A problem tree diagram a way of visualizing the cause and effect relationships regarding a particular problem situation. In such a diagram the causes are presented at lower levels and the effects at upper levels. The core problem connects the two. Thus the analogy with a tree: the trunk represents the core problem, the roots are the causes, and the branches represent the effects. The more specific the causes, the more likely they are to lie at the lower levels of the tree diagram; however, the location of a problem on a tree diagram does not necessarily indicate its level of importance.

There is no one correct way of formulating a tree diagram. Different individuals or groups, given the same list of problems and causes, will normally organize them differently in a tree diagram. This is due to the different levels of knowledge and experience of each person, and the amount of time available for analysis. Given sufficient time and exhaustive discussion, however, different interdisciplinary teams are likely to produce very similar results. In general, the more complete the level of knowledge of the participants and the longer the time dedicated to analysis, the greater the likelihood of similarity in results.

As has been stressed earlier, the key to problem solution is proper problem identification. The tree diagram facilitates the organization of problems into a logical sequence which will lead to logical conclusions and the identification of cost-effective solutions.

Figure 5.1 presents the information from Table 5.1 in a problem tree format. In this case the core problem is stated as "Low level of national production of paw paw." The causes of this core problem, as indicated in Figure 5.1, are due to: "poor institutional services for fruit farmers," on one hand, and "low quality of paw paw," on the other. The causes of each of these respective problems are identified at lower levels of the problem tree. Problems which were not identified in Table 5.1, but resulted from discussion during the preparation of the problem tree, are indicated with an asterisk (*).

Three effects from the core problem have been identified in Figure 5.1. These are: (1) non-exports of papaya which leads to the loss of opportunity to earn foreign exchange; (2) high levels of consumption of imported fruit which can result in health hazards if produce with chemical residues is imported; (3) low domestic supply of papaya resulting in high domestic prices, inflation, and imports of temperate fruits, resulting in losses of foreign exchange. Of these effects, low supply of domestic fruits, high prices on the local market and imports of temperate fruits were identified in Table 5.1. The other effects, indicated with an asterisk, were identified during discussions between team members in the preparation of the problem tree.

Figure 5.1: Problem tree showing cause and effect relationships in the production and marketing of paw paw (papaya) in Barbados, 1988

* Problems not in Table 5.1 which were identified during preparation of the problem tree.

+ For lack of space, the problems are listed vertically; they should be in separate boxes similar to the other problems shown on this level.

If so desired, causes and effects can be detailed to the point where several pages might be required to show the problem tree. In general, the more detailed the analysis, the more complete the understanding of the commodity system and the greater the probability of designing effective solutions.

The problem analysis can be concluded when the Interdisciplinary Team decides that the essential information has been included in the causal network and shows the cause-effect relationships which characterize the problem situation being analyzed.

Objectives analysis

The objectives analysis is the process whereby the problems are converted into objectives or goals towards which activities can be directed. It also includes an analysis of the objectives to determine whether they are practical and can be achieved.

In carrying out the objectives analysis there are five basic steps:

1. All the negative statements shown on the problem tree are restated as positive statements.

2. All the "objectives" are reviewed to assure that they are desirable and realistically achievable in an acceptable time frame.

3. Those objectives which do not meet the conditions mentioned in (2) are modified: those which are undesirable or cannot be achieved are deleted.

4. Any new objectives which are desirable or necessary to complement existing ones should be added to the diagram.

5. The "means-end" relationships thus derived should be thoroughly examined to assure validity, logic and completeness of the diagram. Modifications should be made as necessary.

When the problem cannot easily be converted into positive statements (objectives) it may indicate an unclear statement of the problem. In that case the problem should be reconsidered and rewritten.

In the final analysis of each objective, the question should be asked whether the achievement of the lower level objectives is sufficient to achieve the next highest objective? In other words, has the cause-effect relationship been transformed into a means-end relationship?

As an illustration, when the above guidelines were applied to the problem tree presented in Figure 5.1, the objectives tree shown in Figure 5.2 was the result. Three decisions were made during the formation of the objectives tree (Figure 5.2):

1. There is no objective for improving the production problem of "heavy soil." This cannot easily be overcome in the short run, so it was not included.

2. There is no objective for establishing a processing industry for papaya. The private sector has no interest in this goal at this time, so it was not included.

3. A technological package must be developed and published in the form of a tech-pack for the training of farmers: therefore, this objective was added.

Figure 5.2: Objectives tree for the production and marketing of paw paw (papaya) in Barbados, 1988 (derived from Figure 5.1: Problem tree)

* For lack of space, the following problems are listed vertically. They should be shown in boxes like the other objectives at this level.

By starting at the bottom the objectives tree and working upwards, it can be seen that the achievement of the lower level objectives will lead to the achievement of the objective at the next highest level. Each objective seems to be realistic and attainable within the actual circumstance of the local culture and environment. Thus we can conclude that the objectives contained in this tree diagram are viable and can give direction to development projects.

Analysis of strategy alternatives and project identification

Continuing with the Barbados papaya example, Figure 5.3 shows some worksheet notations which can help in an analysis of the situation. Each of the rows of objectives has been assigned a number from one (top row) to 7 (bottom row) in the right-hand margin. The objectives in the top rows are quite general whereas those in the bottom rows are more specific. If the problem tree had been developed to its full extent, the bottom-most rows would be even more specific. As the objectives become more specific, they might better be called expected results or outputs. For example, in row 7, expected results can include: a papaya tech-pack, trained staff, an organized research program, an irrigation system, wind breaks, improved cultural practices, improved tools, improved postharvest handling, trained laborers, and a packing shed. From row 6, an expected result might be an improved system for production and distribution of planting material.

A few of the objectives in rows 1 and 3 are somewhat out of place when compared with the others. That is, they deal with inflation, health hazards and consumption of imported temperate fruits and need not necessarily be included when considering action to improve the production and marketing of fruits. These can be eliminated without affecting the strategy to be developed and, in fact, have been crossed out in Figure 5.3. Upon analysis of the remaining objectives in rows 1 to 4, it becomes obvious that they are closely interrelated, i.e., they deal either with import substitution or export development, both of which affect foreign exchange earnings.

If an attempt were made to define one General Objective which encompasses all these objectives (rows 1 to 4) it might be the following:

"Increase the domestic supply and exports of good quality fruit."

At the fifth level of objectives (Figure 5.3), there is a distinct dichotomy in which one branch (see circle #1) specifies objectives to be achieved within public sector institutions, e.g., Ministry of Agriculture, and the other branch (see circle #2) specifies objectives which can best be achieved by working directly with the private sector (farmers, intermediaries, etc.). Since target groups are different in each case, and since the institutional objective deals with fruit whereas the other deals only with papaya, it would make sense to consider these as two distinct project areas within an overall strategy.

Figure 5.3: Identification of alternative strategies and projects, based on the objective tree (Figure 5.2)

* For lack of space, the following problems are listed vertically. They should be shown in boxes like the other objectives at the 6th and 7th levels.

Participant analysis

When persons, groups, institutions, and organizations see that they have something to gain from a project, they are much more likely to play an active role in working toward the success of the project. Problems do not exist in isolation but are closely linked with people, groups, institutions, and organizations, and usually more than one person or group. This leads to a further complication in that a problem affecting one person or group in a negative way may be beneficial to others. Therefore, any attempt to remove a particular constraint may come up against resistance. As examples:

· Import laws disadvantageous to farmers may have been lobbied into place by traders. Since traders (importers, wholesalers, exporters) normally have more political and economic clout than do farmers, the laws are difficult to change.

· The organization of a marketing cooperative may put some intermediaries out of business. These might then use their economic strength and political influence to weaken the cooperative.

· A government marketing board may be suffering great losses in both dollars and produce while benefiting employees with jobs, and consumers through low prices. Any attempt to improve operational efficiency by reducing staff will be met with strong resistance.

· Two or more institutions may be duplicating research or training efforts, but professional pride and competition may keep them apart.

Parallel to the process of describing systems and identifying problems, the Interdisciplinary Team should analyze the diverse participants and their characteristics, e.g., status, interests, resources, motives, attitudes, strengths, weaknesses, and their potential support or opposition to actions that remove constraints. Important questions are: Which are the target groups? Which will play a supportive role? Which will benefit from the actions (potential supporters)? Which will be affected negatively (potential opponents)? An attempt should also be made to identify how the persons or groups will be affected.

In the execution of the Participant Analysis, the Interdisciplinary Team should collect the necessary information to fill in Form 5.1. The steps involved in this process are indicated below:

1. List all types of participants (persons, intermediaries, groups, companies, organizations, institutions, projects and others) identified in the analysis of the commodity system. These are all potential target, support, or opposition groups (Note: at this point the reader should refer to Forms 4.1 and 4.5 where different participants in the production and postharvest systems were identified).

2. Review the list to determine whether each represents a homogeneous unit or whether the group can be further subdivided - e.g., government institutions can be divided into the Ministry of Agriculture, Planning Unit, and Marketing Board. Intermediaries may be categorized as wholesalers, retailers, and exporters.

3. Characterize and analyze each participant, considering his/her social characteristics, organizational structure, status, interests, motives, attitudes, strengths, weaknesses, shortcomings, and potential role to be played.

4. Identify possible positive and negative consequences of introducing changes into the commodity system and the potential impact upon the diverse participants.

5. Fill in Form 5.1 indicating whether participants are target, support or opposition groups, or whether they belong to some other group affected by changes in the system. Describe how they are affected, emphasizing the economic or social impact.

6. In the case of ongoing projects, identify those which complement, duplicate or compete with the proposed project.

7. Develop strategies for dealing with the more important persons, groups and/or ongoing projects.

Form 5.1: Expected impact of efforts to modify a commodity system

PARTICIPANTS IN COMMODITY SYSTEM*

HOW AFFECTED

Positive Effects

Negative Effects

Target groups:



-



-



-



-



Support groups:



-



-



-



-



Other groups affected



-



-



-



-



Ongoing projects affected



-



-



-



-



* Note: Refer to Forms 4.1 and 4.5 to identify the participants.

Projects benefiting large numbers of participants are more likely to receive support during the implementation phase. Projects having a negative impact upon some participants with strong economic and/or political clout are more likely to run into delays during the implementation phase.

Based on the results of the participant analysis, the Interdisciplinary Team, in coordination with planners, should attempt to reach a general consensus as to whose interests and views are to be given priority when carrying out problem analysis and project design.

To return to the Barbados papaya example, the participant analysis showed that the FAO had just initiated a technical assistance program to assist the Ministry of Agriculture in rationalizing its agricultural policy. Additionally, interviews with specialists determined that the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) had just authorized a loan to the Barbados Development Bank to establish a line of credit for fruit producers. Consequently, since these two problem areas were felt to be well on their way to being resolved, both were excluded from the two circled areas which encompass possible project ideas (Figure 5.3). Nevertheless, both the FAO and the CDB actions remain integral parts of an overall strategy to improve fruit production in Barbados.

If the two circled areas are to be considered possible project areas, then the level 5 objectives in Figure 5.3 can be considered the specific objectives for each project, i.e.:

· Improve institutional services for fruit producers, and
· Improve the quality of papaya produced in Barbados.

Thus far in this analysis we have identified a general objective, two specific objectives (one for each project) and various expected results or outputs. Furthermore, logic tells us that if we continue one step further, we could Identify a number of specific activities which will be required to achieve the expected outputs. These would undoubtedly include such things as training, planning and construction of physical facilities, planting wind breaks, diagnosing farmers' specific needs for planting materials, and designing and testing new tools.

Summary of project identification

In synthesis, the analysis of Figures 5.1 to 5.3 has resulted in the following:

· A causal relationship has been identified between problems on the farm, postharvest handling, public sector institutions and the country's balance of payments situation.

· It therefore stands to reason that resolution of the problems at the lower levels of the problem tree could produce a positive impact on the overall economy of the country.

· The objectives tree facilitated the identification of objectives and desired results which should in turn lead to the formulation of projects to overcome the identified problems.

· By identifying participants, ongoing actions, and means-end relationships, conditions are set to identify priority project areas.

Given this information, a strategy for developing the papaya industry in Barbados can be summarized as follows:

Execute a series of actions through both public and private sectors to remove the on-farm production and postharvest handling constraints and thus significantly increase the availability of good quality papaya for the domestic and exports markets. Efforts should concentrate on improving the institutional services for fruit producers in general, including improved planting material for papaya, and improving infrastructure and human resources in selected production zones. An ongoing research and information network will be established within the Ministry of Agriculture.

Such a strategy led to the identification of the five actions or projects presented in Table 5.2.

Criteria for establishing priorities

Because there may not be sufficient resources to implement all the projects simultaneously, some projects may have to precede others. In the Barbados case, for example, the development of good quality planting material is undoubtedly of the highest priority while such actions as the institutionalization of a supply system for farm inputs, while important, is of a lower level of priority.

Criteria to be considered in determining priority should include technical feasibility, costs and benefits of the project or action, social impact, and political support for project or action. Criteria of local significance can be added as conditions warrant. To quantify the relative importance of the different projects, the Interdisciplinary Team carrying out the analysis can arbitrarily assign numbers to each criterion, say one for low priority and five for high priority. An application of this methodology for the case of papaya in Barbados is presented in Table 5.2.

In the interpretation of Table 5.2 we can conclude that all five actions are technically feasible and that none have any political opposition. The benefit/cost ratio is highest for the generation of good quality planting material and the installation of irrigation; without either of them efficient papaya production could not take place. The social impact is highest for the generation of quality papaya planting material; its development will stimulate many farmers to initiate papaya production and employ more people. The packing shed is also important since it will create new jobs for a number of persons.

Table 5.2: Prioritization of actions and projects for the development of the paw paw (papaya) industry in Barbados

CRITERIA*

ACTIONS AND PROJECTS

Generate Quality Planting Material

Improve Supply of Farm Inputs

Install Irrigation System

Improve Harvest Tools

Construct Packing Shed

1. Technical feasibility

5

5

5

5

5

2. Benefits/costs

5

3

5

4

4

3. Social Impact

5

2

1

1

4

4. Political feasibility

5

5

5

5

5

Total

20

15

16

15

15

5. Falls within national objectives

yes

yes

yes

yes

yes

6. Falls within executing institution's objectives

yes

yes

no

yes

no

7. Priority of timeliness

5

3

3

2

3

*

1. If technology readily exists, it is 5; the more adaptive research required, the lower the rating.


2. The higher the benefit to cost ratio, the better the rating; 5 is the highest.


3. The greater the social impact, the higher the rating; 5 is the highest.


4. The lower the degree of political opposition, the higher the rating; 5 is highest.


5. "Yes" if action is in line with national objectives; "No" if it is not.


6. "Yes" if action is in line with implementing institutions' objectives; "No" if it is not.


7. The higher the number (5 highest), the more timely the action and the more likely that the action is a precondition for other actions. Lower numbers indicate that the action can be delayed until other actions are in place.

After totalling the number of points, however, there are at least three additional questions which should be asked:

· Does the project fall within national objectives?
· Does the project fall within the objectives for the organization to implement them?
· When should the action be initiated relative to the other actions?

The responses to these three questions, for the case of Barbados papaya, are presented in the second part of Table 5.2. All five actions fall within national objectives. Since the irrigation system and the packing shed will be owned by private farmers, the construction of these two facilities does not fall within the objectives of the implementing institution (Ministry of Agriculture). This indicates that the actions will need at least two different implementing bodies - the Ministry of Agriculture, on one hand, and one or more farmers on the other.

With respect to timeliness, the first action is of highest priority, to be followed by actions two, three and five, then action number four, in that order. The reason for this ordering is that the generation of quality planting material is a precondition for the others, i.e., there is no need for farm inputs, an irrigation system, picking tools and a packing shed if the problem of poor planting material cannot be resolved. Farm inputs and irrigation will be required before harvesting tools and a packing shed are purchased; however, the packing shed should be initiated with sufficient time to assure that it is ready by harvest.

At this point it is useful to ask another question:

· What important political or bureaucratic decisions must be made before implementation can take place?

This question should be asked for each project identified. Sometimes the implementing agency is unable to execute certain actions without the authorization of another agency or institution. Some examples:

· Permission may be required from the Water Resources Department before an irrigation system can be installed.

· A policy change may be required before a new marketing strategy can be applied.

· A change in the organizational structure of an institution may require cabinet approval.

If these possible bottlenecks can be identified during the design stage, then strategies can be developed to keep them from becoming hindrances to the project during implementation.

Other useful questions are:

· What are government development-policy priorities?
· Is available manpower sufficient to implement the project?
· Will the action or project complement or compete with similar actions by other donor or support groups?
· Are there any other local, regional, or national conditions which may affect project implementation?

Project profiles

While there are many definitions for development projects, the important thing is to understand a project's characteristics. The more salient characteristics of a development project are the following:

1. Projects have a physical dimension which establishes limits to their available resources.
2. Projects have a temporal dimension. Since they begin and end at specific times, they can be differentiated from ongoing institutional activities.
3. Projects conform to a well defined unit (group of actions) which can be evaluated to determine its success.
4. Projects have clearly defined objectives which tend to be innovative, rather than perpetuating an existing situation.

Hence, a project is a set of interrelated activities aimed at a common goal/objective and implemented during a given period of time with a predetermined quantity of resources (goals + resources + activities + time).

If we accept this definition of a project, then we can prepare a project profile by:

1. Defining its goals, objectives and expected outputs;
2. Describing the project's principal activities;
3. Indicating the resource requirements; and
4. Establishing a time frame for the beginning and ending of the project.

Anyone capable of analyzing a commodity system and identifying priority problems and needs is also capable of identifying a project idea and expressing it in the form of a project profile.

The key to project identification and formulation Is knowing what the priority problems are. Since the priority problems have been neatly organized in the problem tree (Figure 5.1), converted to objectives in the objectives tree (Figure 5.2) and analyzed in alternative strategy analysis (Figure 5.3), the writing of a project profile is a straightforward task. That is, the commodity system analysis has identified all the basic information necessary to prepare one, or several, project profiles.

While different people and organizations use different outlines for project profiles, basically they all contain the same type of information to greater or lesser degrees. Based on our definition of a project given above, the following minimum information should be included in a project profile:

1. Title (reflects the most important feature of the project).
2. Definition of problems/justification (derived from the problem tree).
3. Goals or general objectives (derived from an analysis of objectives tree and alternative strategies).
4. Specific objectives (derived from analysis of the objectives tree and alternative strategies).
5. Expected outputs (identified from the lower levels of the objectives tree). The expected outputs are the results wanted at the end of the project.
6. Activities to be executed under the project which will produce the expected outputs. (These are a logical extension of the expected outputs and must be carried out to achieve the expected outputs.)
7. Expected duration of the project (determined by the time required to complete all project activities in their proper sequence).
8. Estimate of costs (derived from an analysis of inputs required to implement activities).
9. Implementing organization or agency (determined through an evaluation of organizational capability, source of funding, and local politics).

Project profiles are short descriptions of potential projects. As noted, they can be written in many different formats. Annex 12 presents two project profiles developed following the guidelines presented in this manual (Chapter 5) and based on Figure 5.3.

General observations on the use of CSAM and project profiles

The purpose of this manual is to provide a methodology to study a particular commodity, from planning production to final distribution and consumption, and to identify priority problems occurring along the way and the means of resolving them. The careful reader now has the necessary information and tools to identify problems and to prepare project profiles. However, you cannot feed a child project profiles, nor are they useful for purchasing health care or school books. What then do we do with a project profile?

The answer, of course, is to move them into the proper channels which will lead to funding. This funding can then be used to execute priority activities which will improve the efficiency of food systems. These outputs hopefully will generate economic or social benefits for the intended beneficiaries of the project.

In any country, there are a number of local, national, multinational, international, bilateral and non-governmental organizations active in agricultural development activities. Some organizations only provide loans; others only grants or technical assistance. Still others may provide loans, grants and technical assistance. While some organizations only work through governments, others only provide their assistance through the private sector. Some development organizations provide financial and technical assistance based on lime more than a two page profile. Others may require several volumes of additional information before they release a dollar.

In whatever circumstances, the project profile plays a key role in obtaining assistance from development organizations. Project profiles resulting from the application of the CSAM represent the principal results of a thorough, albeit rapid, appraisal of a commodity system. Those individuals who have managed the implementation of the CSAM must insure that decision-makers, when presented with project profiles, understand the tremendous effort that has gone into the identification of priority problems and the subsequent design of appropriate solutions expressed in project format. A CSAM implementation report will sometimes help in this respect, but often decision-makers are too busy to go into the details of a larger report. Still, in one way or another, they must be made aware of how the project profile has been developed and made to understand the validity of its recommendations.

If a project profile is submitted to a potential donor who likes the project and offers to finance it, so much the better However, in most cases, project profiles are not immediately financed since they normally do not provide the potential donor with sufficient information to determine feasibility and level of risk. Still, it is the project profile which either stimulates the donors to ask for additional information (a positive sign) or inform you that they are not interested (avoiding further waste of time). Profiles, therefore, are a very important tool for agricultural development.

Good profiles may lead either to direct assistance or, if additional information is required, they may become the first step In the project cycle followed by development banks. This project cycle includes: project formulation and evaluation; appraisal and negotiation; project financing and implementation; monitoring and evaluation. One way of contributing to a good project cycle of agriculture development is by learning to prepare good project proposals. The first step in this process is learning to write a good project profile.

Many donor agencies require the use of the Logical Framework (Rosenberg and Posner, 1979) for the presentation of a project proposal. The application of a CSAM and the resulting project profiles will yield the majority of the information required to complete a "log frame." Information on the Logical Framework and methods for using CSAM-generated information in the development of a log frame are contained in Annex 13.


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