Published on 23 Sep, 2021

SEAD End of Project Survey and Economic Impact Assessment show positive results

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With the SEAD project coming to an end, we conducted an end-of-project survey with the objective to determine the contribution of SEAD to the outcome at policy priority level: Sustained food security in Rwanda by meeting national needs for education, research and technology transfer in agricultural production, value chain management and agribusiness.

More specifically the survey aims to provide data that demonstrates to which extent the project has contributed to the achievement of the outcome as formulated by Nuffic:  

a. Increased productivity/Enhanced food security 

b. Employment creation (on/off farm)/ Income earning opportunities 

c. Environmentally sustainable rural development and livelihoods. 

We contacted the stakeholders involved in the activities revolving around the 3 pillars of the SEAD project: research, extension services and education. Using an online data collection tool and in-person interviews we reached out to education partners (Head of Institutions, Management and Trainers/lecturers, possibly students), private sector organizations, (Farmers, Cooperatives, Agribusinesses, Federations, Associations, and institutional Authorities (including MINEDUC, MINAGRI, RAB, CICA, HEC, RDB, District & Sector agronomists and Veterinarians). SEAD international consortium partners were also included in the survey. 

As part of the survey, we reached out to 38 farmers and cooperatives, 11 districts, 38 lecturers and professors and instructors 9 leadership and senior managers as well as key institutional authorities. 

Survey answers show that SEAD training has helped Farmers better understand and put in to practice modern farming techniques and better face some of the key challenges in their sector. This is already starting to have a positive impact on the quality and yield of outputs they produce, as well as on their income levels.  

SEAD has also had a positive impact on Cooperative Manager’s ability to develop Cooperative strategy and business planning, as well as general Cooperative development and governance  – building a good foundation for future growth in farming cooperatives and helping them to better support their membership. As a result, almost all Cooperative Managers reported they felt positively about the future growth prospects of their Cooperative.

Agribusinesses reported improvements in knowledge and skill of existing staff and new recruits, as a result of the SEAD programme activities – demonstrating that SEAD interventions have supported improvements in the relevance of graduate skills, and thus their employability and future prospects in terms of securing and retaining employment/livelihoods. Agribusinesses supported by the SEAD interventions have also reported being able to better face some of the key challenges in their sector. 

Academic staff working in education institutions reported the learning of a breadth of new skills / knowledge from the value chain actors during outreach activities, which they were able to apply to make improvements in course content and teaching approach. This greatly enhanced their teaching of formerly mostly theoretical curricula to better reflect everyday practice and respond to real challenges. Academic staff felt that students’ view of vocational/technical training had improved since the SEAD programme interventions, as well as seeing an increase overall in the number of applicants to agriculture-related courses. The majority of academic staff also reported to see more and better mainstreaming of gender and inclusion in content and methods of teaching. 

Academic staff also highlighted strengthened links to other higher education institutions – particularly through Service Training and Innovation Centres (STICs) organised by SEAD and quoted examples of education staff conducting SEAD funded PhD studies at higher education institutions in the Netherlands – and how this has helped with the exchange of ideas and expertise, leading to collaborative research projects and research papers. 

A key outcome of SEAD outreach activities has been to support academic institutions in improving their understanding of the education/training needs of farmers in Rwanda– and all farmers responding to the survey agreed that lecturers and facilitators made efforts to understand and respond to their needs. 

District and Sector stakeholders identified the SEAD interventions as aligned with the key challenges that they felt were facing the sector.  In addition to increasing their knowledge and skills in relation to technical areas covered by the training, District and Sector stakeholders also highlighted how the SEAD training had created a forum for sector actors to meet, improving engagement across the sector, and contributing to wider collaboration and knowledge/ideas. Almost all District and Sector stakeholders felt that the SEAD project made a positive contribution towards the establishment and strengthening of partnerships between education institutions and local authorities. This cross-sector engagement has helped to create supportive networks between sector actors – where help and problem-solving can be sought – contributing to overall improvements in resilience of individual actors and the wider sector. 

Over 60% of academic services staff reported improvements in their ability to successfully mainstream Gender and Inclusion in their teaching approach and course content. Academic staff also highlighted specific new skills / knowledge gained around “the role of women in entrepreneurship” and the “impact of empowering women” – as well as “how to be inclusive in daily lives” from SEAD training and learned from other value chain actors via SEAD. Many academic institutions have also seen an increase in the number of female applicants to courses, since SEAD started. 
As part of the Rwanda SEAD post project evaluation, Mott MacDonald economic development specialists are also undertaking an appraisal of the economic impacts of the SEAD programme using a method tested in several other projects: Transparent Economic Assessment Model (TEAM). They are assessing the extent to which the project helped increase productivity and income within the Rwanda agriculture sector as well as the implications for food security and rural livelihoods. The results of this economic impact assessment are forthcoming in the final report on SEAD as interviews and analysis have not yet fully completed at the time of issuing this final newsletter.