The purpose of this evaluation was to provide feedback to the Western Cape Department of Agriculture (WCDoA) and relevant government authorities involved in policy administration, concerning the role and functioning of Agricultural Economists and the services that are required by their clients in the Western Cape Province.
The 6 Key Evaluation Questions were:
1. What is the role of Agricultural Economics services in the public, as well as agricultural and agribusiness sectors in South Africa?
2. What is the function of an Agricultural Economist in the public, as well as agricultural and agribusiness sectors in South Africa?
3. Considering questions “a)” and “b)”, what is the role of ‘Programme 6: Agricultural Economics Services’ at the WCDoA?
4. How is ‘Programme 6: Agricultural Economics Services’ structured at the WCDoA?
5. How does the Agricultural Economics Services Programme at the WCDoA compare to similar Programmes in other institutions?
6. What does the Agricultural Economics Services Programme at the WCDoA need to do to improve performance in line with the identified benchmarks?
Data was collected from a wide range of sources: a literature review; a satisfaction survey of existing and potential users of Agricultural Economics Services with 353 respondents (of these, about 124 were from farmers across the five Districts, and the remainder covering internal Provincial government users, agribusiness, academia, commodity organisations, and other public and private sector organisations); a survey of current and ex WCDoA Programme 6 staff; a survey of University Heads of Agricultural Economics Departments; a survey of the Directors of Provincial Programme 6s; two focus groups (emerging farmers and commercial banks); and a range of key informant interviews with Programme 6 staff, organised agriculture, and emerging farmers.
Practical and implementable recommendations were developed to address the following:
1. Programme 6 organisational re-design processes to address identified issues to enhance service delivery;
2. Programme 6 consultations with commercial and emerging farmers to obtain detailed inputs to enhance priority Agricultural Economics services identified; and
3. The WCDoA to identify and implement actions to improve internal Provincial processes (e.g. Human Resources) which are undermining effective Programme 6 service delivery.