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Australia Balochistan Agribusiness Program – Phase 2, implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations- $11.45m over 2017-2020

Summary of publication

Through the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), Australia funded the Australia Balochistan Agribusiness Program phase 2 (AusABBA II). By promoting sustainable agricultural practices and providing technical support to policy development in agriculture and livestock, AusABBA II sought to reduce poverty and economic inequality in six of Balochistan’s districts bordering Afghanistan and Iran.

In July 2017, FAO and DFAT entered into AusABBA II, consisting of a further two 3‑year phases until June 2023. A stop-go point was scheduled for the end of the first 3‑year phase on June 2020. Due to the phase-out of Australia’s bilateral program to Pakistan, the stop-go point was exercised. Recognising the investment’s strong performance history, the spirit of partnership between FAO and DFAT in Pakistan, and the need for a responsible exit, DFAT agreed to a no-cost extension for AusABBA II until December 2020. To increase the scope for continuance of program outcomes beyond DFAT funding, and for the wider dissemination of lessons learned, an evaluation was commissioned.

FAO undertook a partner-led evaluation of AusABBA II between January and March 2021. The FAO’s Office of Evaluation contracted a team of independent evaluators. Attached is a summary of key findings. 

The review found that:

  • AusABBA II was successful in formalising farmer groups and linking them up with local commercial markets.
  • AusABBA II’s adaptive management approach to inclusive market development was innovative. It addressed underlying market inefficiencies around a selection of commodities where the poor stood to benefit most. This helped it to become one of the flagship projects for FAO in South Asia.
  • AusABBA II led to significant improvements in productivity and profitability for households engaged in agriculture and in women’s empowerment. To ensure sustainability, these changes need to be supported through continued investments in farmer marketing groups by government and other donors.
  • While the agribusiness value-chain approach is valuable, it requires longer‑term support in light of Balochistan’s business climate and capacity constraints of local farmers and government.

The independent evaluation made four broad recommendations for AusABBA II partners to consider, including:

  • AusABBA II farmers’ organisations should be further supported on their journey to becoming formal business organisations.
  • The project’s farmers’ organisations should seek to link up with other social and infrastructure development programs in their respective districts.
  • The project has established the business case for women to participate in agribusiness in a deeply conservative region. Further support is needed for women farmers to become more organised and engaged with market systems.
  • Local sourcing of agricultural inputs is necessary to build private sector networks and stimulate local businesses. FAO’s centralised procurement, while important for ensuring quality and transparency, at times contributed to ineffectiveness in case of some key inputs, such as seeds, which often arrived late for optimum results in a season.

DFAT’s response to the partner-led, independent evaluation report:

  • DFAT considers the report to be of high quality. It has addressed the Terms of Reference well. The report also is consistent with the Evaluation Plans and Evaluation Tools documents prepared by the independent team.
  • DFAT will continue to follow up with FAO on the development of a communication plan and resources that will allow AusABBA II partners and other interested stakeholders to raise awareness of learnings and support up-take of recommendations.

Full publication

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations website: Evaluation of the project "Australia Balochistan Agri-business Programme-Phase Two (AusABBA II)"

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