Approaches

Technical Assistance Groups (TAG) [Tajikistan]

approaches_2448 - Tajikistan

Completeness: 83%

1. General information

1.2 Contact details of resource persons and institutions involved in the assessment and documentation of the Approach

Key resource person(s)

SLM specialist:
SLM specialist:

Weissen Hugo

hugoweissen@kaswag.com.au

Austria

SLM specialist:

Kaelin Laurie

lauriekaelin@kaswag.com.au

Austria

Name of the institution(s) which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Approach (if relevant)
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) - Germany

1.3 Conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT

When were the data compiled (in the field)?

20/05/2011

The compiler and key resource person(s) accept the conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT:

Yes

2. Description of the SLM Approach

2.1 Short description of the Approach

Technical advisory groups working on a 'fee for service' basis provide an effective service to farmers to achieve measurable yield increases, based on regular crop monitoring, crop management advice and effective use of inputs (fertilisers, water, pesticides, etc.)

2.2 Detailed description of the Approach

Detailed description of the Approach:

Aims / objectives: The TAG concept is designed to achieve the following key objectives: (1) Provide an effective agronomic advisory service to farmers to achieve measurable yield increases, based on regular crop monitoring, crop management advice and effective use of inputs (fertilisers, water, pesticides, etc.), (2) Support the development of agricultural input supply and distribution, and (3) Operate as independent entities on a competitive 'fee for service' basis (fee per ha), working towards achieving self sustainability.

Methods: TAGs are the central component of the framework and follow a very simple operational structure, basically consisting of a “Senior Agronomist” (SA), a “Organisation Manager” (OM) and a defined number of “Field Agronomists” (FA). The SA will register an advisory business as well as the OM and FA. The cooperation will be regulated by cooperation contracts. The SA will engage directly into service contracts with farmer clients to whom they will provide crop management recommendations throughout the entire production cycles. TAGs will be based in defined geographic areas, operating with local staff (SA, OM, FA) and build up a customer base large enough for financial self sustainability.

Stages of implementation: (1) TAGs are registered as enterprises, (2) TAGs develop business plans, (3) TAGs develop work plans and field records, (4) each TAG signs contract with cooperation partners (TAFF and GIZ-PSD project), (5) TAGs get first payment from cooperation partners (555 USD per TAG), (6) TAGs sign consulting contracts for 500 ha, farmers pledge to pay for advisory service 24 TJS/ha in the whole season, (7) quality control of advisory contracts concluded: visit of contracted farms to ensure the farmers understand the TAG-system, (8) TAGs do market analysis for the regional availability of suppliers for pesticides, fertiliser etc., mechanisation contractors, banks, buyers, (9) second payment from cooperation partners, 5 TJS per ha up to 500 ha contracted area per TAG, (10) third payment from cooperation partners, same conditions as previous point, (11) fourth payment from cooperation partners, 12 TJS per ha contracted area (only if field advisors are contracted and have received first salary, first field records are made and filed to the TAG documentation), (12) first payment from clients/farmers, 12 TJS per ha contracted area, (13) second payment from clients/farmers, 12 TJS per ha contracted area, (14) fifth payment from cooperation partners, 5 TJS per ha contracted area (only if contracts are fully pay through clients, TAG must handover documentation of their work).

Role of stakeholders: Cooperation partners provide expertise and training, support to the organisational and sustainable development of TAGs and financial support. NGOs (Agricultural Extension Service Providers) will be invited to enter into contract agreements for the provision of training to TAGs. TAGs consist of a “Senior Agronomist” (SA), a “Organisation Manager” (OM) and a defined number of “Field Agronomists” (FA).

2.3 Photos of the Approach

2.5 Country/ region/ locations where the Approach has been applied

Country:

Tajikistan

Region/ State/ Province:

Khatlon, Soghd, RSS

Further specification of location:

Yovon, Hissor, Vakhsh, Djomi, Konibodom, Zafar, Kuljob, Vose

2.6 Dates of initiation and termination of the Approach

Indicate year of initiation:

2011

2.7 Type of Approach

  • project/ programme based

2.8 Main aims/ objectives of the Approach

The Approach focused mainly on other activities than SLM (productivity increase)

The main objectives of the approach were to: (1) Provide an effective agronomic advisory service to farmers to achieve measurable yield increases, based on regular crop monitoring, crop management advice and effective use of inputs (fertilisers, water, pesticides, etc). (2) Support the development of agricultural input supply and distribution. (3) Operate as independent entities on a competitive 'fee for service' basis (fee per ha), working from the start towards achieving self sustainability.

The SLM Approach addressed the following problems: low agricultural production, lack of technical knowledge

2.9 Conditions enabling or hindering implementation of the Technology/ Technologies applied under the Approach

institutional setting
  • hindering

weak capacity of governmental agricultural extension services

Treatment through the SLM Approach: establishment of independent agricultural extension services

knowledge about SLM, access to technical support
  • hindering

little or no access of farmers to effective agronomic technical assistance services

Treatment through the SLM Approach: establishment of technical advisory groups TAGs

3. Participation and roles of stakeholders involved

3.1 Stakeholders involved in the Approach and their roles

  • local land users/ local communities

Entered contracts with TAGs to employ their advisory services

  • SLM specialists/ agricultural advisers

All senior agronomists are male. They were selected on the basis of their perceived experience and agronomy knowledge. Field agronomists were selected by their respective SA. Some of the field agronomists are female.

Received training provided by the cooperation partners (training of trainers)

  • NGO

AIN, ATAC and SAS Consulting (and other agricultural extension NGOs)

  • international organization

GIZ-PSD project, TAFF Tajik Agricultural Finance Framework (EBRD)

3.2 Involvement of local land users/ local communities in the different phases of the Approach
Involvement of local land users/ local communities Specify who was involved and describe activities
initiation/ motivation none
planning none
implementation passive the land users pay the TAGs for their services with a service fee
monitoring/ evaluation none
Research none

3.3 Flow chart (if available)

Description:

The Technical Assistance Group (TAG) Framework

Author:

Laurie Kaelin

3.4 Decision-making on the selection of SLM Technology/ Technologies

Specify who decided on the selection of the Technology/ Technologies to be implemented:
  • SLM specialists alone
Explain:

agricultural extension service to provide assistance to land users

Decisions on the method of implementing the SLM Technology were made by by SLM specialists alone (top-down)

4. Technical support, capacity building, and knowledge management

4.1 Capacity building/ training

Was training provided to land users/ other stakeholders?

Yes

Specify who was trained:
  • field staff/ advisers
Form of training:
  • technical advisory service
Subjects covered:

Innovative approaches to crop management, effective use of agricultural inputs (fertilizers, pesticides, water, etc), basics of advisory work, cotton growing, modern ways of plant protection, cooperation with other service providers, improving the performance of the TAG team, and improving the TAG business were key focus points.

4.2 Advisory service

Do land users have access to an advisory service?

Yes

Specify whether advisory service is provided:
  • at permanent centres
Describe/ comments:

Technical Assisstance Groups (TAGs); Key elements: TAGs provide know-how on modern crop production and crop management techniques to individual farmer clients., TAGs establish links with input providers and buyers of produce, TAGs are financially self-sustainable through the service fee they collect from farmer clients

Advisory service is quite adequate to ensure the continuation of land conservation activities; The value of crop rotation to conservation and improvement of soil health is clear to the TAG. Problems associated with erosion and fertiliser leaching are being discussed in field training sessions.

4.3 Institution strengthening (organizational development)

Have institutions been established or strengthened through the Approach?
  • yes, greatly
Specify the level(s) at which institutions have been strengthened or established:
  • local
Specify type of support:
  • financial
  • capacity building/ training
Give further details:

The TAGs were registered as formal entities. They were supported by the coordination partners financially and through training sessions.

4.4 Monitoring and evaluation

Is monitoring and evaluation part of the Approach?

Yes

Comments:

economic / production aspects were regular monitored by project staff, land users through measurements; indicators: Measurement of yields by TAG and farmers, accumulation of data over time

area treated aspects were regular monitored by project staff, land users through observations; indicators: Approx. 17,000 ha being covered by TAG

area treated aspects were regular monitored by project staff, land users through measurements; indicators: Nearly 900 Dehkan Farms serviced

no. of land users involved aspects were regular monitored by project staff through observations; indicators: Communication between TAG, land users, input suppliers and project staff

management of Approach aspects were regular monitored by project staff through observations; indicators: gender of contracted farmers

socio-cultural aspects were regular monitored by project staff through observations; indicators: Measurement of yields by TAG and farmers, accumulation of data over time

economic / production aspects were regular monitored by project staff, land users through observations; indicators: Agronomic measurements of crop progress by TAG and project staff

technical aspects were regular monitored by project staff through measurements; indicators: Comprehensive collection of land use activities

technical aspects were regular monitored by project staff through observations; indicators: None

management of Approach aspects were regular monitored by None through measurements; indicators: None

There were several changes in the Approach as a result of monitoring and evaluation: Introduction of record keeping for field activities to serve as a decision making tool in the future. Introduction of systematic crop progress evaluations enabling much improved crop management. Communication between farmers and input suppliers is streamlined, with the expected outcome of improvements in quality and timing of input usage.

There were several changes in the Technology as a result of monitoring and evaluation: New tools introduced for record keeping and crop progress monitoring. Improvements in timing and quality of field activities (cultivation, fertilisation, irrigation etc). Improved access regarding timeliness and quality of production inputs.

4.5 Research

Was research part of the Approach?

Yes

Specify topics:
  • economics / marketing
Give further details and indicate who did the research:

Market analysis of regional availability of suppliers of pesticides, fertiliser etc., mechanisation contractors, banks, buyers.

5. Financing and external material support

5.1 Annual budget for the SLM component of the Approach

Comments (e.g. main sources of funding/ major donors):

Approach costs were met by the following donors: international (GIZ-PSD, TAFF): 20.0%; national non-government (TAGs): 80.0%

5.2 Financial/ material support provided to land users

Did land users receive financial/ material support for implementing the Technology/ Technologies?

Yes

If yes, specify type(s) of support, conditions, and provider(s):

TAFF/GIZ-PSD project will provide a voucher to the senior agronomists to pay for additional NGO services, which they might need based on individual requirements. The voucher will cover 80% of the cost

5.3 Subsidies for specific inputs (including labour)

  • other
Other (specify) To which extent Specify subsidies
Establishment of TAGs at the beginning partly financed
Comments:

During the initial establishment period of the TAGs they received 5 supportive payments. Those are either fixed amounts, or based on the number of hectares contracted by the TAGs

5.4 Credit

Was credit provided under the Approach for SLM activities?

No

6. Impact analysis and concluding statements

6.1 Impacts of the Approach

Did the Approach help land users to implement and maintain SLM Technologies?
  • No
  • Yes, little
  • Yes, moderately
  • Yes, greatly

In the longer term land users benefit from agronomic advise to improve sustainable land management (e.g. fertiliser use, irrigation efficiency, crop rotation).

Did the Approach empower socially and economically disadvantaged groups?
  • No
  • Yes, little
  • Yes, moderately
  • Yes, greatly

Employment of male and female agronomists through TAG, partly funded by service receivers (farmers). Expected increases in land productivity as a result of advice will lead to higher farm income.

Did the Approach lead to improved livelihoods / human well-being?
  • No
  • Yes, little
  • Yes, moderately
  • Yes, greatly

Employment of agronomists through TAG, is partly funded by the service receivers (farmers). Expected increases in land productivity as a result of this agronomy advice will lead to higher farm income.

Did the Approach help to alleviate poverty?
  • No
  • Yes, little
  • Yes, moderately
  • Yes, greatly

Employment of male and female agronomists through TAG, partly funded by service receivers (farmers). Expected increases in land productivity as a result of advice will lead to higher farm income.

6.2 Main motivation of land users to implement SLM

  • increased production

Farmers expect increased production as a result of agronomic advice

  • increased profit(ability), improved cost-benefit-ratio

Framers expect increased farm income as a result of agronomic advice

6.3 Sustainability of Approach activities

Can the land users sustain what has been implemented through the Approach (without external support)?
  • no
If no or uncertain, specify and comment:

Land users rely on agronomic advice and on timely access to good quality inputs. TAGs, if successful, can provide a service to the farmer for which he/ she is prepared to pay for. TAGs if successful however, are expected to continue and grow their advisory services businesses and become self sustainable.

6.4 Strengths/ advantages of the Approach

Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the land user’s view
Quality agronomic advice (How to sustain/ enhance this strength: Ongoing training und upskilling of agronomists. Establishment of a strong core of agronomic advisors who themselves will train new agronomists as their advisory businesses grow)
Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view
Systematic and professional approach to the provision of services (How to sustain/ enhance this strength: Ongoing training of TAGs and NGOs)
TAGs are registered service providers (How to sustain/ enhance this strength: Return clients, increase in client numbers)
Networking between TAGs and input suppliers (How to sustain/ enhance this strength: Facilitation and improvement of communication, training)

7. References and links

7.1 Methods/ sources of information

  • field visits, field surveys
  • interviews with land users

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