FINAL EVALUATION “Support to Development of Agricultural Cooperatives”

Publication Date: 08/12/2021

The Final Evaluation Report consists of a project background, methodology, main findings (including analysis of in-depth interviews and focus group results), conclusions, recommendations and lessons learnt. The methodology used triangulation, combining desk research (qualitative and quantitative secondary data) and primary data collected during the mission in North Macedonia via interviews and focus groups in Skopje and other locations.
Relevance: The project was clearly relevant to the context of North Macedonia and the Western Balkans region. The interventions were timely and focused on addressing the priority needs of farmers, important for enhancing sustainability of North Macedonian agriculture. Its design was based on the in-depth needs assessment, which was a collaborative effort carried out by the partners, stakeholders and project beneficiaries. In the course of its implementation, the identified needs farmers and stakeholders were also met by the project to a great extent.
Effectiveness: The effectiveness of the project was visible in several areas. However in some areas more time is needed – likely until the completion of the project - to unveil the project outcomes and impacts. The project greatly succeeded in creating a significant number of new ACs and increasing the involvement of farmers into this kind of business model. Yet, their membership size is often small. Despite the efforts to consolidate representation of the AC’s, there were mixed results regarding the umbrella organization. On the one hand, it visibly improved the planning, management, and provision of services while ensuring the continuation of the funding until the end of 2020. On the other hand, it split into two entities, which hampered the consolidation process. There is limited progress that is visible in terms improved business performance of the ACs. However, the project lifespan was too short to detect a major shift in economic terms.
Efficiency: The implementation of the project was smooth and largely in line with its budget and timeline. The project encountered minor delays and budget issues from the beginning. Yet, the project was complemented with in-kind resources of the partners and thus was cost-efficient. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the project duration had to be extended. The management of the project was very efficient and responsive against this force majeure. The project lifetime was extended and this allowed for an adequate adaptation to those unusual circumstances.
Sustainability: Despite the relatively successful establishment of the ACs, the sustainability of the project has been called into question due to the fact that related legal frameworks have not been adopted and the challenges ACs face in accessing the markets. The cooperatives benefitted from investments to upgrade farm facilities (machinery, post-harvest storage), yet they were not clearly embedded into functioning value chains. The pandemic proved to be challenging for enhancing the links between the farmers and other value chain actors. Participation in face-to-face meetings and business events was seriously constrained. Yet, the project succeeded in facilitating contacts between business partners, especially for the AC Prespansko Jabolche.

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