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Concept Note - IFAD 6th Regional Forum

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  • 1. Concept Note IFAD 6th Regional Forum “MAKING SMALL FARMS IN W EST AND CENTRAL AFRICA MORE PRODUCTIVE AND PROFITABLE” 14-17 November 2011, Libreville, GabonBACKGROUND AND RATIONALEThis year, the 6th IFAD Regional Forum (previously “Implementation Workshop”) willtake place from 14th to 17th of November 2011, in Libreville, Gabon. The forum is beingorganized and financed jointly with the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries andRural Development of the Republic of Gabon.The Annual Regional Forum is an important knowledge-sharing event, which enablesIFAD-funded projects, and development partners from throughout the region to meet,network and share experiences and review performance with the objective of improvingthe lives of the rural poor. These fora form a cornerstone of the portfolio managementprocess, and an important part of the West and Central Africa (WCA) strategy tocontinuously improve the performance of projects and grants in terms of relevance aswell as quality, and to promote collaboration among participating stakeholders.In the last two years, the regional fora continue to evolve from a portfolio-review focusto more a projects-leading knowledge sharing event. For this year’s event, the role ofprojects and IFAD staff partners will be further expanded as knowledge and learningfacilitators and range of interactive techniques will be used during the forum.The central theme of the forum is “Making Small Farms in West and Central AfricaMore Productive and Profitable”. The theme captures the dynamic approach to ruraldevelopment, and expresses the broad range of contexts and issues that the forum willfocus on from the challenges communities are facing in meeting basic food securityneeds, to helping rural communities engage more profitably with market opportunities.The forum is taking place during the year when IFAD has renewed its engagement tosupport smallholders’ agriculture. The recently approved Strategic Framework 2011-2015 outlines IFAD’s vision in sustainably increasing rural incomes and food security andfacilitating economic transformation. In addition, the meeting is also taking place againsta backdrop of difficult times (financial and economic, climate change) that need to beacknowledged in future action. Designing coordinated responses to address the currentchallenges mean actively seeking effectiveness and creative thinking on the part of theproject implementers and partners who will be attending the 6th Regional IFAD Forum inorder to improve what we do together and how we do it.OBJECTIVES OF THE FORUMIf small farmers are to play a significant role in helping meet the requirements forincreased production, regional strategy for agricultural development must provide for ameans that enables farmers’ organizations (FOs) to increase the productivity and theincome-earning capability of its small farmers. FOs are the primary agriculturalstakeholders. Most concerned by agriculture, their role is central to changing andstrengthening agriculture in the region. They have detailed understanding of theirimmediate surroundings, and play a decisive role in the concrete achievement ofagriculture’s potential. Available evidence indicates that FOs can provide a mechanismto increase the efficiency with which resources are allocated on the ground. 1  
  • 2. The main purpose of the Forum is to provide a platform for IFAD-funded projects andtheir partners to share experience and lessons learned on their partnership with FOs inWest and Central Africa.Specific objectives are: to (1) reflect, take stock of implementation experiences todate about different approaches, and share best practices and evidence-based lessonslearned on the role of FOs; (2) inform on the evolution of IFAD’s strategic focus andoperational approaches with a particular emphasis on the region; (3) facilitate continuedimprovement in project implementation through sharing of experiences and lessons; and(4) assess progress and delivery in achieving the targets laid out in the Dakar ActionPlan for 2011 and develop measurable follow-up 2012 Action and Supervision Plans forimproving project implementation.EXPECTED OUTPUTS• Analysis of lessons learnt, best practices, and opportunities to address agricultural investments and their poverty reducing impact and sustainability within the national and regional context of project activities and food security and growth;• Key constraints/challenges affecting agricultural investments in the region and recommend measures for solving these;• Analysis of project, country and regional constraints that are impeding current project implementation strategies and results, and recommended approaches and actions to solve these;• 2012 Action and Supervision Plans for projects and country programs is reached; and• Forum reports and good practices capturing experience from projects.FORUM ORGANIZATIONAL MEASURESParticipantsA total of approximately 250 participants are expected to join the forum. From each ofthe countries, representatives of the following stakeholder groups will be invited:• Projects staff (110)• national authorities responsible for agricultural development (24)• FOs and other members of civil society (40)• relevant regional and international organizations and development partners (15)• IFAD staff (60).Forum Organizing CommitteeForum organization will be a collaborative arrangement between IFAD and the NationalOrganizing Committee in Libreville, Gabon. The detailed management of the Forum willbe the responsibility of IFAD Forum Management Committee. This will be led byZoumana Bamba, Knowledge Management Officer, and include Perin Saint-Ange,Regional Portfolio Manager, Steven Schonberger, Regional Economist, and Richard Aiello,Organizational Change Learning and Development - Team Leader.In addition, IFAD and project staff will be asked to contribute as facilitators, rapporteursand other key roles in the implementation of the workshop sessions.Forum methodologyTo achieve the expected outcomes, a learning, dynamic and interactive environment willbe created to share experiences and project results. Selected participants are expectedto play active roles as presenters and facilitators. Particular emphasis will be placed onsharing of experiences and lessons learned by project staff in order to stimulate peerlearning through both the formal sessions and informally during breaks, meals, etc. 2  
  • 3. FORUM PROGRAMThe forum will consist of a four-day program of events which will include:OPENING AND CLOSING SESSIONSFormal opening and closing remarks will be made by IFAD’s Regional Director and theMinistry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Rural Development of Gabon.THEMATIC SESSION – MAKING SMALL FARMS IN WEST AND CENTRAL AFRICAMORE PRODUCTIVE AND PROFITABLE - Session leader, Steven Schonberger, RegionalEconomistDesired Results:1. A common appreciation and understanding amongst participants of IFAD’s focus on strengthening farmer organizations as the main mechanism for sustainable access to the services and markets needed for smallholders to compete as providers of agricultural products in WCA.2. Better understanding of the practical elements involved in supporting PPPs through IFAD-financed projects.3. Awareness of tools which IFAD will be using with partners to develop farmer organizations and PPPs in the region.Results Verification:Evaluations and exit interviews with participants consistently indicate knowledge of OPstrengthening as central approach to achieving broader objectives in region. Someknowledge of the practical elements involved and experiences in the region with OPstrengthening and PPPs. Expressed interest to implement country communicationsprogram in their country and to participate in relevant capitalization workshops.Mechanisms for Achieving Results:1. Overall presentation by Regional Economist of FOs and PPP approach.2. Panel presentations and discussions by farmer organization, project staff, private sector partners and CPMs on case examples.3. Share-Fair with projects, farmer organizations and private sector.SHARE-FAIR SESSION: SHARING OF LESSONS LEARNED AND EVIDENCE-BASEDBEST PRACTICES ON FOS - Session Leader, Zoumana Bamba, Regional KnowledgeManagement OfficerOverall Objectives1. To provide a space for sharing current thinking, practice and lessons learnt in working with FOs in linking smallholder farmers to markets, accelerating adoption of technologies and inputs, and advisory services; especially those that benefit smallholder, including women and marginalized rural communities.2. To capture islands of successes and the lessons and best practices from selected projects so that they be up-and out-scaled.Expected Results1. Shared understanding and enhanced profile of the vital role of FOs within the context of the present environment for agricultural and rural development.2. Good practices, lessons learned and policy options for improving the future delivery and effectiveness of FOs endorsed and widely disseminated. 3  
  • 4. Mechanisms for Achieving Results:1. Exhibit of lessons learned and experience from projects, farmer organizations and private sector.2. Sharing of materials on results, practices, initiatives and lessons learned.COUNTRY COMMUNICATIONS AND CAPITALIZATION APPROACHES SESSION - SessionLeader, Zoumana Bamba, Regional Knowledge Management OfficerDesired Results:1. Sharing and improvement of KM and Communications tools and mechanisms being used in WCA for capturing lessons for policy and practice.2. Sharing of current practices and results in communication, knowledge sharing and learning.Expected outputs1. Recommendations for improving methodologies and tools to ensure that communication and knowledge sharing mechanisms respond to the needs of projects.2. Definition of 2012 programme of work for capitalization.Mechanisms for Achieving Results:1. Overall presentation by Regional Knowledge Management Officer of communication and knowledge sharing approaches.2. Panel presentations and discussions by project staff and CPMs on case examples.3. Sharing of knowledge products and communication materials.PORTFOLIO SESSION - Session Leader, Perin Saint-Ange, Regional Portfolio AdviserDesired Results:1. A common appreciation and understanding of the status of the portfolio and key issues for attention emerging from the 2011 Regional Portfolio Review.2. Sharing knowledge and information on management and implementation procedures for more effective project field impact.3. A review of progress in achieving the targets laid out in the Dakar Action Plan and the development of follow-up 2012 Action, and Supervision Plans for improving project implementation.4. Improved project performance based on lessons learned from implementation and solutions and innovative approaches to addressing portfolio challenges.Expected outputs1. Analysis of project, country and regional constraints that are impeding current project implementation strategies and results, and recommended approaches and actions to solve these.2. 2012 Action and Supervision Plans for projects and country programs is reached.Mechanisms for Achieving Results:1. Overall presentations by Perin Saint-Ange, Regional Portfolio Adviser on the performance of the portfolio and of key issues and challenges.2. Discussions by Forum participants on the performance of the portfolio.3. Working groups for finalizing 2012 Supervision and Action Plans. The working groups will be based on the new divisional architecture of regional hubs and clusters.FIELD VISIT - Session leader, Gabon Organizing CommitteeAn important side activity is a field visit to an agricultural development project thatfocuses on improving farmer livelihoods. 4  
  • 5. PRE-FORUM PREPARATIONS1. A Forum Website will be made available for participants to be briefed on the forum objectives, program, working procedures, and preparatory tasks. Most forum reading materials will be made available through the Website.2. Online discussion - A Virtual Pre-Forum Discussion Forum will be organized, through the FIDAfrique Website, to obtain participants "feed-forward" information or inputs regarding topics to be discussed during the forum.3. Selected projects will be requested to prepare materials/documentation based on templates for the share-fair.4. Prior to the forum a two day session will be organized to ensure that all facilitators: (i) have a common understanding of standards of facilitation, (ii) have common facilitating ability and techniques for creating a dynamic environment, (iii) understand expectations and have built links between the different presentations.AFTER-FORUM (FOR INFORMATION)STAFF LEARNING EVENT - WCA HIGH PERFORMANCE TEAMS WITH HQ AND FIELDSTAFF - Learning Events for WCA staff in teams based in HQ and in the field – 19-20November 2011 – Event leader, Richard Aiello, Organizational Change Learning andDevelopmentOverall objectives1. Develop and test on selected WCA operational/business process, effective team practices to improve results through strengthened collaboration and team spirit between HQ and ICO staff;2. Produce a measurable action plan by team based on existing business practices and processes, which will be implemented and followed up on after the event; and3. Increase networking among WCA staff working in or with field offices, with particular emphasis of ICO staff working with their colleagues at HQ and other ICOs.Learning Outcomes1. Increased ability to use tools and modern practices to integrate ICO staff in the regular WCA activities2. Increased awareness and ability to work effectively as one team on key processes. 5