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Agricultural Productivity

Knowledge and expertise

The staff of John Fargher + Associates have knowledge and expertise appropriate to the agricultural productivity needs of donor clients. John Fargher has formal qualifications in agricultural science (BAgSc 1980), economics (MNatRes (Economics) 1996) and management (Advanced Management Program 1998). As a specialist in strategic programming and performance management, he also undertook specialist training in evaluation at Oxford University (1998), with the World Bank Institute (2004) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (2004).

With more than 25 years of experience as a rural development practitioner, and with post-graduate qualifications in economics and management, as well as 15 years senior management and multilateral bank experience, John has relevant qualifications for, and advanced knowledge of, the design, management and evaluation of agricultural productivity and natural resource management investments. He has development experience in Africa (north, horn, east, south and west), Middle East, Asia, SE Asia, the Pacific and the Caribbean. John has lived in cross-cultural context for long-term program postings (rural development in Iraq-1980-1984, performance management in Vietnam-2004-2008) as well as worked in more than 35 countries for short and medium-term development tasks. His expertise covers the whole aid programming cycle for agricultural productivity – from strategic planning (e.g. review of Australia’s engagement with International Fund for Agricultural Development – 2011) and portfolio analysis (e.g. rural development portfolio in eastern Indonesia – 2011), through concept and design (e.g. design support to $45m program for Africa Food Security Initiative, 2013; quality at entry assessment of Lao Rural Development Program, 2012; and Timor-Leste Seeds of Life III, 2010) to implementation and management for development results (e.g. evaluations of PNG Agricultural Research and Development Support Facility – 2010, and Indonesia Smallholder Agricultural Development Initiative – 2010). Since 1995 he has increasingly worked in performance management, monitoring and evaluation with a focus on aid effectiveness in rural development.

John has knowledge and expertise in approaches to agricultural research that are likely to maximise impact on food security and nutrition, particularly for small producers and poor communities. For example, he was engaged to support CSIRO design a $45 million program of research for development projects in East Africa and West Africa under the Africa Food Security Initiative in 2013. Similarly, he led the evaluation of the PNG Agricultural Research and Development Support Facility (2010) that highlighted weak linkages with private sector stakeholders such as producers, input suppliers and traders. This knowledge and expertise was also used for John’s inputs to the review of Australia’s engagement with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (2011).

John has knowledge and expertise in institutional strengthening and reform of national agricultural research organisations to strengthen their focus on development results. For example, he led evaluation of the Vietnam Collaboration for Agriculture and Rural Development (2011) and also evaluation of the PNG Agricultural Research and Development Support Facility (2010) which both focused on strengthening the institutional change processes supported by AusAID.

John has particular knowledge and expertise in participatory approaches to agricultural development, including working with public and civil society organisations to facilitate agricultural innovation. For example, in his work for the World Bank in China for the Pastoral Development Project (2002-2003) he introduced participatory rural appraisal techniques that were used to engage herders, traders and researchers in the design and implementation of change processes for sustainable pasture-land production. John introduced and supported similar processes for the design and implementation of World Bank projects in Turkey (Eastern Anatolia Watershed Management – 1991-1993) and Armenia (Natural Resource Management and Poverty Reduction Project – 2000-2003).

Much of the identification, design and appraisal work John did for the World Bank focused on risk and vulnerability assessment of rural communities and households. He has more than 20 years of experience applying Participatory Rural Appraisal and related rapid appraisal methods and tools to such assessments. For example, in Tanzania (2003) John used wealth ranking, trend and change analysis; transect walks and seasonal mapping; participatory monitoring – especially of daily activities and food (calorific) intake; and case studies to work in partnership with counterparts to identify spatial and temporal patterns of risk and vulnerability. The resulting data were used to construct problem trees with stakeholders and focus interventions at institutional, policy, program and on-ground levels to reduce risk and vulnerability. During the supervision mission for DFID/World Bank of the China Watershed Management Project (2008) he conducted rapid appraisal of household risk and vulnerability to threats of drought and the shock of changed government policy on free grazing in the Yellow River watershed. Using semi-structured interview techniques, and applying international benchmarks such as Engel’s coefficient, enabled a rapid assessment of the current poverty risk and vulnerability which enabled an evaluation of the relevance of project activities.

As a member of the AusAID M&E Expert Panel (2009-2012) John has provided ad hoc advice and strategic direction, including for policy development. For example he was a member of the 3-person team reviewing Australian engagement with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (2011), he finalised the Office of Development Effectiveness review of AusAID investments in rural development (2011), and he was the technical quality at entry reviewer for the design of Timor-Leste Seeds of Life (2010) and Indonesia Rural Development Program (2011).

High-level analytical and strategic-thinking skills, combined with the capacity to engage with a wide range of stakeholders from senior cabinet members to partners in a cross-cultural communication context, have supported his work in this area for AusAID and other GoA agencies. He has advanced skills and knowledge in program theory (theory of change and program logic). John also has an advanced understanding of the operational context of international development and aid effectiveness principles – having worked with OECD DAC and Government of Vietnam around the Paris Declaration and Accra Agenda for Action. He has worked with projects, programs, facilities, multi-donor trust funds, and budget support modalities as well as with a wide range of donors other than AusAID including DFID, World Bank, GIZ, ADB and JICA.

John’s technical and programming expertise has been applied to design quality initiatives at both strategic and operational level – ranging from small regional initiatives (e.g. Tanzania US$6m Coastal Livelihoods Program – 2003) to very large strategic investments (e.g. Turkey US$180m Eastern Anatolia Watershed Management Project – 1991-1993). The design work is informed by a practical understanding of program theory – applied using various tools including logical frameworks (all World Bank and DFID work), theory of change analysis (most recent AusAID work) and program logic models (recent AusAID work in Indonesia, PNG and Vanuatu).

The focus of John’s knowledge and expertise is providing evidence and well-informed professional opinion to support client agencies make informed decisions on aid delivery mechanisms, partnership approaches and governance arrangements – skills that were honed in Vietnam between 2004 and 2008 when John supported the Ministry of Planning and Investment in contributing to negotiations for the Paris Declaration and proclamation of the Hanoi Core Statement (the first national response to the Paris Declaration).

Demonstrated experience

John has experience in 4 disciplines related to agricultural productivity: crops and livestock, forestry, soils and natural resource management, and agricultural economics. He chaired the South Australian Forest Industry Development Board (http://www.pir.sa.gov.au/forestry/forest_industry_development_board 2009-ongoing) and was Chair of the South Australian Water Resources Council (1997-2004) and a member of the Natural Resource Management Board of the state – all strategic bodies providing advice to Cabinet and Ministers on the sustainable development and management of rural resources in South Australia. John has post graduate qualifications in natural resource management and economics that have supported his work in Australia (e.g. irrigation research reform in the Murray-Darling Basin – 1995-2000) and internationally (e.g. World Bank Armenia Natural Resource Management and Poverty Reduction Project – 2000-2003 and China Pastoral Development Program – 2002-2003). John has applied his agricultural economics skills at enterprise level (e.g. value chain evaluations for the Smallholder Agriculture Development Initiative – 2010) and policy level (e.g. lead author of National Farm Forestry Strategy).

Much of John’s work has supported institutional strengthening and capacity building needed to build partnerships across jurisdictions, agencies and sectors to develop negotiated management plans for water. For example, in Turkey he led the rural development aspects for design of the Eastern Anatolia Watershed Management Project - a large World Bank investment (US$180m) that reformed watershed planning systems in the Ministry of Forests to include forest communities and stakeholders from a wide range of government agencies at national and provincial levels. Change management and institutional strengthening processes were designed and implemented with his support at national level (especially around watershed management roles and responsibilities); at provincial level (especially around implementation and monitoring of actions to implement watershed management plans) and district level (especially around planning and implementation of watershed management actions). The planning frameworks John developed in Turkey brought together community interests articulated by participating households and broader public interests articulated by government policy – effectively engaging bottom-up and top-down processes to support resource allocation decisions in a Community Driven Development context. The importance of a voice for women was specifically acknowledged, with one important response being implementation of gender-segregated participatory planning meetings, at the request of community members. This addition to the planning process added considerable value and is consistent with AusAID’s gender equality guidelines.

Similarly, in South Africa, John contributed to the early implementation of the National Water Act (1998), particularly developing guidelines and demonstrating practical frameworks for participatory water resource planning. As part of a 3-member team contracted by the South African Water Research Commission, he led the practical demonstration of participatory planning processes for integrated planning and allocation of water resources. This included leading the first water allocation negotiation under the Act for the Kat River Catchment. The success of this experience led the Water Research Commission to engage the team to prepare Guidelines for participatory water resource management – a three volume publication for which John prepared the Economic and Investment Tools volume.

John has experience in one or more of the regions in which the Australian aid program operates including Africa, Middle East, Asia, South East Asia, the Pacific and Caribbean. He has worked in ASEAN (Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Vietnam); Africa (Angola, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Mauritania, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda); the Caribbean (Barbados, Belize, Guyana, Jamaica, St Lucia, Trinidad); China; Europe (Greece, Romania, France, Turkey, United Kingdom) the Pacific (PNG, Samoa, Vanuatu and by desk Solomon Islands); and the Middle East (Armenia, Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Kuwait, Iran, Iraq, Yemen). John’s developing country experience has ranged from village and household level (e.g. designing and implementing farm surveys in China, Mauritania, Senegal, Tanzania or Vietnam) through national level (e.g. monitoring capacity development for Government of Vietnam) to regional and program levels (e.g. Caribbean performance framework). He has worked in conflict-affected areas (e.g. Aceh, Papua, Mauritania, Iraq); fragile states (e.g. Timor-Leste, PNG) and the poorest areas of middle-income countries (e.g. Nusa Tenggara Timur, Papua Barat and Tay Nguyen).

John has designed, implemented, supervised and monitored as well as evaluated investments in dissemination of agricultural innovations to farmers, their input suppliers and also their traders and markets. For example he supported CSIRO to design a $45 million program of research for development projects in eastern and west Africa under the Africa Food Security Initiative in 2013. This included a significant input on social diffusion and the role of the private sector and other civil society agents in productivity change. Similarly, his work for the World Bank in Turkey for the Eastern Anatolia Watershed Management Project (1991-1993) he supported forestry and pasture research scientists to engage with forest communities and herders using participatory rural appraisal and farming systems research methods to demonstrate innovation on-farm and in-village. At the same time, he engaged seed and fertiliser suppliers and local government leaders as part of the change process. Similarly, in the China Hebei Watershed Management Project (1995-1998) John worked with fruit buyers, wholesalers and retail outlets in Shandong as part of the process to increase demand for new innovations in apple production and post-harvest handling. Experiences such as these inform John’s more recent work including leading the Technical Advisory Group for Timor-Leste Seeds of Life Program (2011-2012) – which includes advising on the technical aspects of systems to monitor change in community seed production groups and seed market performance in Timor-Leste – and evaluating rural development programs in eastern Indonesia (2010). These experiences also informed design and subsequent supervision work implemented by John for the World Bank (e.g. Armenia Natural Resource Management and Poverty Reduction Project – 2000-2003; China Pastoral Development Program – 2002-2003) – which included use of participatory rural appraisal and farming systems research methods to link producers researchers and traders. The focus of all this work was ensuring that incentives and information were structured in a way that enabled adoption of innovations as part of the change process leading to poverty reduction.

These experiences enabled John to lead finalisation of the Office of Development Assistance review of AusAID rural development programs over the past decade (2010-2011). The report included analysis of change processes that link research institutions with farmers, private sector institutions and companies, civil society and public sector agencies.

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