10 mistakes NGOs, traders and donors make when empowering farmers
Learning from mistakes – whether these are your own or ones that others make – is a very effective way to adjust your activities in order to be more successful. Over the past years, working on a large number of projects with our clients and partners, we have seen certain mistakes recur.  These mistakes lead to resources being used less efficiently, activities being less effective and therefore goals not being met.  We believe NGOs, traders and donors have A LOT to win if they can avoid these 10 common mistakes.

  1. The approach of the program is too fragmented
    An unaligned program, in which program partners implement their own approach, using their own metrics and targets, leads to inefficiencies and therefore the suboptimal impact of the program as a whole.
  2. The program infrastructure is insufficiently strong
    There needs to be an infrastructure of a sufficient number of assessors, who are trained as certified assessors, in order to be flexible and absorb changes in the assessment planning.
  3. There is no dedicated project manager to manage the assessment process
    A project manager needs to oversee and monitor the assessment process to make sure the assessments are conducted within planning and manage the assessors to ensure good communication with the farmer organisations or SMEs as well as smooth data collection.
  4. Market players are not on-boarded at an early enough stage
    In a market driven program the relevant market players need to be involved from the beginning of the programme, so their requirements can be taken into account. Also, the market players and other partners involved need to learn to speak the same language.
  5. The planning of the program is unrealistic
    In practice, when implementing a programme there are always unforeseen circumstances. So, when planning assessments one needs to consider these, and also plan sufficient travel time in order to align with the planning of other dependent activities.
  6. Farmers do not understand the assessment result
    Ensure ownership of the assessment results by the farmers by collecting their feedback on the draft report of the assessment and providing a detailed explanation of these outcomes. By doing this, farmers recognise the importance of certain topics, recognise themselves in the report and are motivated to improve on their weaknesses.
  7. The data quality is not safeguarded
    It is important to contract assessors that comply with the SCOPEinsight criteria to ensure smooth data collection and safeguard data quality. A poor quality of data requires a lot of time to double check with the farmer organisation or SME and correct. It is something you want to avoid!
  8. Stakeholders are not assembled on a regular basis
    Convene all stakeholders in the program on a regular basis to provide an update on progress, re-align the goals and targets and exchange learnings. This not only improves the cooperation amongst the stakeholders, but it also facilitates and accelerates alignment.
  9. Bottlenecks are not flagged in time
    Create escalation procedures within the program to flag project delays and poor data quality at an early stage. This will help to tackle issues at an early stage before they might impede the target of the program.
  10. The data is not used to track performance or create linkages
    Use the outcomes of the assessments as input for the capacity building plan. Share data with program partners, in line with local privacy regulations, and report regularly on progress and realized impact. Share the reports with the market players, so the market opportunities for the farmers can be seized.

Would you like to know how we helped our partners avoid these mistakes? Contact our business developers today!