Training entitled “Methodology and practice for Monitoring/Evaluating the impact of Agricultural Policy. Policy scenario for future State support to agriculture in Azerbaijan” took place on 2nd of March 2021. The training was held in the video conference mode via Zoom platform.
The trainers included experts from Council for Agricultural Research and Economics (CREA), Italy - Mr. Roberto Cagliero, Ms. Beatrice Camaioni, and Ms. Annalisa Zezza.
Mr. Roberto Cagliero presented topic “Monitoring and Evaluation of agricultural policy: methodology and best practice”. His presentation covered three main subtopics - Policy design, what does evaluation mean? Information and indicators. While speaking of policy design, Mr. Roberto stressed that first a problem should be defined, solution types identified and then scenarios prepared.
Then, participants were explained the difference between monitoring and evaluation. Thus, monitoring is a continuous task of reviewing information and stocktaking of budgetary inputs and financed activities that generates quantitative data and gives feedback on the implementation. While Evaluation is a judgement of interventions according to the results, impacts and needs that provides evidence for decision-making and improves effectiveness, usefulness and efficiency.
Speaker talked about information and indicators. Indicator is a tool to measure the achievement of an objective. It is an aggregate of data that allow quantification (and simplification) of phenomena. Indicators cannot allow drawing conclusions but interpretation/ assessment.
Ms. Beatrice Camaioni presented topic “Practical example of use of indicators for assessing the impact of agricultural policy”. The presentation stressed the importance of intervention. In order to improve farm productivity/competitiveness, create jobs, or increase rural income and sustainable development: one measure is not enough! It is necessary a package of interventions. Then, she spoke on how to monitor and evaluate. Here the actors are policy maker, paying agency, researchers (data analysts, economists, agronomists, IT experts). The next 20 slides were about farm investment intervention. The program lasts for 7 years. It was noted that the intervention finance farm is modernized through introducing innovation or new technologies, increase of product value added, increase product quality standard, cultural diversification, increase of labour security and environmental standard. Support implied 40% of the admissible expenditure (in EU), where aid intensity was planned to increase up to 60% in case of investment in mountain area and for young farmers (in EU). At the start of the period, the following targets are set to achieve by the end of the period - Amount to spend for the intervention - The number of farms to finance - The % of farms to finance.
The last speaker Dr. Annalisa Zezza presented her topic “Policy scenario for future State support to Agriculture in Azerbaijan”. In her presentation, Dr. Annalisa first present about current situation in Azerbaijan’s agricultural sector. According to data analysis, it looks like the current policy results are not reaching the national objectives of productivity growth, sustainability, simplification of controls and administration and trade performance. It was stated that subsidy payments are different per crop and cover a large number of farms. Also, it was mentioned that in trade policy in Azerbaijan some shortcomings, such as not compliance with WTO rules and standards, the current direct agricultural support is in Amber Box (trade-distorting for WTO) are present.
Then, the speaker presented first proposals by the Twinning. In addition, crop rotation principles were explained to the audience. The proposed reform should produce an efficiency gain especially in those cases where, after the decoupling process, farmers will quit production activities where specific payments made them artificially profitable. Payments will make a basic income safety net for farmers allowing them to cope more adequately with increasing price volatility on global markets. The introduction of basic Cross-Compliance (agronomic, animal welfare and hygiene requirements) will provide a further basis for justifications of the support provided to farmers through direct payments being in line with growing citizens expectations in terms of provision of safe, healthy food and a sustainable use of natural resources although there will be the need to monitor compliance which imply new costs and administrative burden. Rural development measures financed by a consistent national policy represent a fundamental structural tool to accompany subsidies and increase farms’ competitiveness and diversification.