Evaluation Program International Agro ChainsClient: Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs | Sectors: Natural Resources
The government has been working for years to strengthen the position of the Dutch agro and food sector internationally.
One of the means used for this is the Program International Agro-chains (PIA). Ecorys was asked by the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality to make an evaluation of this program. This study focused specifically on workability and effectiveness, possibilities for improvement for the policy instrument, and insight into making the effects of PIA tangible.
Within the PIA instrument, budgets are allocated to the international Agricultural Council Network, a worldwide network of Dutch representatives at 36 embassies covering more than 70 countries. PIA offers agricultural councils financing for various small-scale activities, such as market studies, network activities, workshops, trade missions and attendance at agricultural trade fairs. In addition, similar activities are carried out in the Netherlands, such as incoming trade missions or expert visits.
This evaluation has made it clear that it is not possible to clearly establish the effectiveness of the PIA instrument. This is mainly due to the lack of (1) an evaluable objective, (2) monitoring of indicators and (3) a clear intervention logic. The PIA instrument is nevertheless assessed as effective by the parties involved. The interviewed parties were positive about the use of the PIA, in particular the ability to put new, innovative topics on the map with PIA activities and to set things in motion.
A wide range of effects has been identified at different levels based on the discussions held and the EffectArena with stakeholders. Direct outputs (1st order effects) of PIA include diplomatic relationships between governments, visibility of Dutch companies, knowledge sharing, and relationships between companies. Net effects (2nd order effects) range from the prevention of market barriers, to increasing market transparency, and to strengthening the 'brand' of the Netherlands. The infographic visually summarizes the relationship between the objectives and the various activities, outputs and net effects.
Finally, a number of recommendations have been drawn up by Ecorys to improve both the operation and the measurability of the effects of the PIA instrument. The recommendations concern, among other things, reformulating the PIA objectives, strengthening the intervention logic, revising responsibilities and creating a multi-year perspective.