FFM and FFM SPS recognised for improving the livelihoods of ACP producers

The external mid-term evaluation of the FFM and FFM SPS programmes was conducted between September and November 2021. The evaluation methodology consisted of document review, design, dissemination and analysis of a survey with a representative sample of partner-beneficiaries – 89 invited with a 91% response rate, and interviews with a multitude of stakeholders – national, regional and/or supranational.
The main findings of the final evaluation report were very positive, indicating that more than 90% of the partner-recipients interviewed during the evaluation reported that they had seen an improvement in the livelihoods of their employees/affiliates/producers-suppliers since the start of the FFM and FFM SPS programmes.

Other positive elements that emerged from the external evaluation were (i) very high levels of satisfaction of the partner-beneficiaries of the programmes – particularly in terms of technical assistance and training activities; (ii) flexibility and capacity to adapt in the implementation according to national contexts and exogenous events, particularly with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic; (iii) direct job creation by the partner-beneficiaries – reported by more than 80% of respondents; (iv) diversification of the destination markets for MSMEs and producer groups, with more products sold on national and regional markets than in the past; and (v) creation of a network of experts competent in a wide range of subjects in most of the countries where the programme is active, whose technical and teaching competence is supported periodically, thus ensuring the sustainability of the programmes over time.
At the same time, a series of recommendations were made relating to methodological confirmations, such as the need to implement any new programme whilst maintaining the continuity of the FFM and FFM SPS programmes, and also regarding points for improvement in terms of programme monitoring, activity reporting, proactivity with regard to countries that are less dynamic in requesting support for such programmes, and strengthening the role of the steering committee.

The final phase of the FFM SPS programme and the implementation of the new COLEACP Fit For Market+ (FFM+) programme funded by OACPS and the EU will incorporate these recommendations.
It should be noted here that FFM+ has been designed and is being implemented as a continuation of the FFM/FFM SPS programmes and the results of the COLEACP COVID-19 Action Plan implemented from March 2020. FFM+ support has been designed to contribute to the transition of ACP agriculture towards a more sustainable food and agricultural system, integrating the priority areas of action recognised by the EU Green Deal’s Farm to Fork strategy.

The end of the FFM programme is also an opportunity to consolidate all the developments undertaken over the past 5 years in terms of information production, technical material – e.g. training tools – and support methodologies. A final technical report, accompanied by an illustrative synthesis, will be produced and disseminated, using in particular the main lessons learned from the external technical evaluations conducted on the FFM and FFM SPS programmes.