Report for Extenal Review: Site visit
CSU/Botswana Cowpea Project
December 10-15, 1984
By P.E. Hildebrand
Notwithstanding the continuation of the severe drought in
Botswana, this project has made great strides since last year. Facing
a dramatic situation of very limited precipitation and unpredectible
rains, the main objectives of the project are to devise tillage and
planting practices to allow planting of cowpeas immediately when
sufficient rain has fallen and to produce varieties adaptive to the
conditions of the country.
Botswana is primarily a livestock country. Livestock and
off-farm work are the major earning activities of the farmers. Crops
then, are a cash-saving activity meaning that if a crop is produced,
livestock will not have to be sold to provide food for the family.
Given this structure and the uncertain potential for producing them,
crops that are mostly produced under very low input situations. This
is the challenge facing the Cowpea CRSP in Botswana.
Release of the early, erect variety ER-7 by the Government of
Botswana has created a great deal of enthusiasm for the CRSP.
Acceptance of the variety among most of those interviewed is evident,
but it is not unanimous. Concerns are on improving varieties similar
to the ER-7 and on the technic of blending varieties to provide
multipurpose leaves (spinach) for human consumption, forage for
grazing, and grain. The project is working on varietal improvement
but does has not have the resources to consider the other aspects
The variety/spraying tests conducted with several farming systems
groups in the country and approximately 30 agricultural extension
agents (A/Ds) also received mixed reaction. In particular, the work
with the A/Ds was mostly misunderstood. The Project was working with
the A/Ds to test a hypothesis that thrips were causing blossom drop.
The Project supplied sprayers to the A/Ds, seed, and training. The
extension agents were very happy with this collaboration and
substituted it for some of the demonstration plots they are required
to have. Hence, it was not work added to the A/D burdens and it did,
for nearly the first time, provide a strong link to research.
However, this activity was viewed by many outsiders as an attempt to
demonstrate to farmers the value of chemical insect control. For that
reason, many people in the country were quite opposed to the activity.
As a result of the review, it is hoped that this misunderstanding has
been cleared up.
At the time of the evaluation last year, concern was expressed
about the relationship between the CRSP and the Agricultural
Technology Improvement Project (ATIP). The situation has improved
significantly during the last year. ATIP conducted two bench-mark
surveys for the CRSP, and has analized the results and written reports
which are very useful. They are also testing varieties coming from
the CRSP and tillage equipment being produced by it. To date, field
testing of CRSP results by ATIP has been light, but both anticipate
that more will be done as more promising varieties are selected and as
the ATIP project begins to put somewhat less emphasis on its multiple
visits survey and therefore more on field trials.
The environment for enhancing the collaboration among several of
the units within the Division of Agricultural Research (DAR) appears
very favorable at the present time, and indeed some is already
occurring as mentioned above.
The concern expressed by the Director of Agricultural Research,
David Gollifer, for relatively more station research and relatively
less field testing by the CRSP can be met when the field testing is
taking over by the ATIP Farming System Teams. This is a favorable
shift in emphasis and can enhance the institutionalization of the
foreign donor projects into the Division of Agricultural Research.
1. Involvement and support from US institution.
a. Institutional integration.
The project is supported by the Department of Agronomy at
Colorado State University. One professional and one administrative
position are involved. Services include backstopping, administration,
and a proposed research project involving low night time temperatures.
b. Institutional back-up support provided.
CSU purchases and ships equipment and manages salaries of
personnel in Botswana.
c. Institutional interest in continued involvement.
Unknown to this reviewer.
d. Actions needed.
The research being planned in Colorado on low night time
temperatures should be initiated in Summer, 1985.
2. Project administration.
a. Fiscal management.
No problems that we are aware of.
b. Program management and logistics.
In-country the team is still functioning with inadequate
transportation. Requests for clearances in Washington have been
delayed excessively. Nonetheless, the US-PI is managing well, a
completed program, and utilizes resources wherever they can be found.
A surprising number of persons and projects are collaborating with the
c. Actions needed.
A continuing shift of on-farm trial responsibility from the
CRSP to the ATIP Farming Systems Project will provide the CRSP team
more time to undertake additional needed research.
Seven persons are being paid by the CRSP. Two of these are
Batswana studying for MS degrees and two are women. One is on loan
from the CRSP project in Tanzania.
Unpaid: six individuals including one new peace corp
volunteer to replace the volunteer who has recently left.
b. Adequate number and type.
Given the resources available to the project, this does not
appear to be a constraint.
c. Involvement of women.
Two women work directly with the project and many other work
in a collaborative mode with the project.
All the personnel appear to be functioning in a highly
e. Staff concerns.
Concerns were expressed that the US-PI has not been able to
interact as much as would be desirable with the staff because of heavy
administrative and travel demands. This is not to critize the travel
which is viewed as being highly productive in itself, but it does lead
to a valid concern from the staff.
f. Actions needed.
Given the fact that the reviews and reports are required and
the travel highly productive, no specific changes in action seem
4. Equipment and facilities.
Transportation remains a problem to the team. The host
country institution provides what transportation it can, but this is
very limited by their own very limited resources. Requests for
vehicle purchase have been delayed many months in Washington.
The land which is provided on the Sabele Station for
irrigation appears to be shallow and of poor quality. This may have
some negative impact on the research product.
c. Actions needed.
More rapid approval of transportation requests from
Washington. If possible, provision of an area with better soils on
the Sabele station.
5. Project progress.
a. Frequency and usefulness of US/HC team travel.
By combining home leave with business travel, several CRSP
locations were visited. Stops were also made at three US universities.
Though this created a fairly long absence of the PI from the host
country, it appears to be a highly effective use of the PI's time.
b. Level of the US/HC team communication and communication
with HC AID Mission. Generally this seems to be adequate.
c. Appropriateness of activities to goals.
All activities of the team appear to be appropriately
directed to goals of the project.
d. Progress toward research objectives.
Three baseline surveys have been completed. One of these was
designed especially for women farmers. The continuing drought has
hampered the capability of the team to obtain much of the data
desired. However, progress is being made in reaching the objectives
of the project. In particular, the germ plasm collection has been
increased to 700 entries. Tillage implements have been devised and
are moving into the testing stage.
Karen Conniff arrived in host country too close to the initiation
of rains to be able to prepare a research proposal as well as she
would have liked. Given the uncertainty of rains in the country,
however, it was necessary for her to establish one of her trials. The
objectives of this project could be refined and possible can still be
incorporated into a later planting yet this year.
e. Progress toward training objectives.
Two host country students, one male and one female, and one
female US student are engaged in graduate study in the US. Another
female US student is conducting dissertation research in host country.
Two host country technicians received short term non-degree training
f. Attention to issues of related disciplines
g. Contribution of work to small farmers systems.
The project is working very closely with small farmer
systems. This category is highly satisfactory.
h. Contribution of work to US agriculture.
Some of the generic material developed or screened in host
country may well be adaptable to the drier conditions found in the US.
New information on drought can also be utilized in US agriculture.
The proposed research on low night-time temperatures can also be
directly applicable in the US.
i. Actions needed.
None specifically indicated.
6. Active linkages established.
a. Host country institutions.
The CRSP has established linkages with a large number of
host country organizations. This is effective in aiding progress
toward project objectives and institutionalizing project activities in
the host country.
b. US organizations.
Linkages have been established with the University of
California, Kansas State University and Michigan State University.
c. Other CRSP Projects.
Linkages has been established with CRSP projects in Brazil,
Senegal, Nigeria and Tanzania.
d. Actions needed.
7. Summary of status.
a. Specific strengths.
A very active and enthusiastic US-PI. This applies equally
to all the staff working in the host country.
b. Specific weaknesses.
The level of training of host country technicians is still
lower than desirable. Continued efforts will need to be made to
improve the host country capability in this category.
c. Change from previous review.
The host country PI position is still being filled by an
administrator on a temporary basis. Otherwise all concerns of the ERP
in the last review have been significantly improved upon.
d. Expected schedule of future outputs.
Much of the progress in producing outputs depends upon the
rains. However, new lines to replace or augment ER-7 should be
available for nation wide testing in two years. Tests of the tillage
equipment are being initiated and results will be available within one
8. Summary of recommendations.
Efforts directed toward enhancing the collaboration of the
commodity units within the DAR with the ATIP farming systems project
should prove to be highly productive and should be actively pursued.
December 20, 1984