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Strengthening Food
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I used to work in implementation, so I’m attracted to those aspects of NORC’s work that provide useful learning for program implementers. Our midterm evaluations allow them to make course corrections in real time. Our final performance evaluations help make their next implementations more effective.

Lauren Persha, Senior Research Scientist
International Programs

NORC has been at the forefront of developing and validating evidence-based interventions meant to improve agricultural productivity, the economic well-being of farmers, and reliable access to nutritious food for people around the world.

We recently evaluated USAID’s Yaajeende project in three regions of Senegal. Yaajeende is part of USAID’s Feed the Future initiative, which is designed to increase food production and improve nutrition, particularly for vulnerable populations such as women and children. The evaluation—which included a survey of 2,470 households in 157 villages and group discussions in 27 villages—assessed the program’s impact across four key areas: women and children’s health and nutrition; household food security and economic well-being; water, sanitation, and hygiene; and agriculture production and practices. Our data collection and analysis revealed noticeably different outcomes in Yaajeende’s three target districts and highlighted the contextual factors that likely contributed to those differences. These insights will help USAID more effectively tailor future programs to specific regions.

We just completed a baseline evaluation of USAID’s Supporting Deforestation-Free Cocoa in Ghana project. Ghana is the second-largest supplier of the world’s cocoa, but the Ghana Cocoa Board estimates that up to 40 percent of cocoa farms suffer from low productivity and high disease and pest loads. But many of Ghana’s cocoa farmers are smallholders with insecure land tenure arrangements that prevent or discourage them from replanting old and diseased farms. USAID’s activity addresses this problem by clarifying land use agreements. It couples those efforts with farm restoration activities designed to improve cocoa productivity, farmer livelihoods, carbon sequestration, and reforestation. NORC’s evaluation will allow USAID to refine its interventions and roll them out on a larger scale throughout Ghana.

25% of Ghanian cocoa farmers sampled were somewhat or very worried they could lose the rights to their farm against their will within the next three years.

NORC also works closely with organizations that involve the private sector in development initiatives. We’re currently evaluating several projects sponsored by the International Finance Corporation and the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program:

  • In Rwanda, we are evaluating a $26 million investment in a food processing plant that will support smallholder farmers, a $4.5 million line of credit to support the capital needs of seasonal smallholders, and an effort to build the financial and management capacity of farmer cooperatives and strengthen their ties with commercial buyers.

  • In Malawi, we recently evaluated a $10 million investment in Malawi Mangoes, the country’s first commercial fruit farming and processing company.

  • In Kenya, we are evaluating a $33 million investment in Twiga Foods, a company that uses a mobile platform that connects small-scale farmers with local vendors and markets.