From 8 to 12 December 2008, a pilot workshop was held on “Formulation of Investment Projects in Agriculture and Rural Development”, in Budapest, organized by the FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia (REU) and the Subregional Office for Central and Eastern Europe (SEU), with the Investment Centre.
Recognizing the importance of proper analysis and development of public investment projects to meet the objectives of national development plans and strategies, the workshop focused on all stages of the project cycle, helping participants to understand and improve their technical skills in investment planning, formulation, implementation and evaluation. The innovative approach integrated best practices and requirements of international financing institutions working in partnership with FAO (e.g. World Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the International Fund for Agricultural Development).
Some 20 participants attended from Ministries of Agriculture in 11 countries of the region (Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Macedonia, Moldova, Serbia, Tajikistan and Ukraine). Candidates were selected for their interest in investment work and whose current duties include liaising with donor agencies, managing project formulation and design, or carrying out project implementation. Also present were FAO staff from Budapest, Rome and field offices.
J. Nagy (SEU), assisted by REU/SEU staff, oversaw overall workshop coordination. R. Jehle (REU) acted as moderator and facilitator. P. Lucani and F. Vita, Centre retired experts, prepared the material and conducted the training and practical exercises.
The workshop was opened by M. Kadleèíková, FAO Assistant Director-General/Regional Representative for Europe and Central Asia, who highlighted the importance of agricultural investment to cope with present demand and future trends in global food supply, and C. Gregorio, Chief of the Investment Centre Service for the region, who outlined the Centre’s commitment to build up capacity in REU countries for investment planning, formulation, implementation and evaluation.
The five-day training sessions covered all key stages of a project cycle, from why investing in agricultural development is a priority need, to the planning framework for project identification, preparation, appraisal and implementation, and actual preparation of draft projects. Various typologies of projects and sector programmes were explored and essential analytical tools for project design were illustrated. FAO staff spoke on themes of relevance, such as irrigation planning issues and lessons learnt, the European Union rural development support programmes, REU programmes in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and the RuralInvest package developed by the Centre for formulation and evaluation of small to medium-scale investment projects.
Participants indicated that replication of a similar workshop in their countries or on a regional or subregional basis, would be of great interest to their governments. Most agreed the content and topics were well balanced and only minor modifications are needed for future workshops. Participants and presenters agreed that the practical exercises and case studies were very important and more time should be devoted to these as well as more discussion on country priorities. Keen interest was also shown by the participants on financial and economic analysis methodologies and on the RuralInvest package.
It is envisaged that similar workshops will be given in most, if not all FAO regions and subregions and repeated when necessary. A second investment cycle workshop is in the planning for 2009 for the Subregional Office for Central Asia in Ankara, Turkey.