During the meeting, FFTC Acting Director Dr. Hideo Imai took the opportunity to express his sincere appreciation to the Council of Agriculture (COA), Executive Yuan, Taiwan ROC for its unparalleled commitment and effort in providing administrative and operational support to the Center, and for playing a central and key role in the attainment of FFTC's mission as an agricultural information center in the ASPAC region for almost four decades now. Meanwhile, in his opening address, the Honorable Minister of COA, Dr. Wu-Hsiung Chen, acknowledged FFTC's key role in promoting institutional and technical cooperation in agriculture among countries in the ASPAC, as well as in bridging the technological gap between developed and developing countries by allowing small-scale farmers to benefit from the region's scientific and technological advancements.
The Strategic Plan was approved in 2006, and has since served as the Center's blueprint in formulating its annual work programs, as well as its policy and institutional strategies toward strengthening its international partnership within the ASPAC region. Traversing into its second year of implementation, it was deemed necessary to assess how the Strategic Plan has been translated into annual work programs and implementable projects, especially in terms of whether the targeted topics and technologies are aligned with the plan's mission statements, or if the information and technologies collected from such projects have potential impact in alleviating the plight of small-scale farmers in the region. Limitations and constraints in the translation of the Strategic Plan must also be identified to better address the gaps in successfully attaining its missions.
Despite a number of constraints and limitations, however, the TAC members acknowledged that FFTC through the years has accumulated a huge body of knowledge and information on agriculture transformed into usable and practical information materials and publications. Participants to FFTC activities have also created a "multiplier effect" in terms of filtering down timely and innovative technologies gathered from FFTC projects to the ultimate users, the farmers, and by translating them into information materials and capacity-building activities like field demonstrations and training courses in their respective countries.
In the last two years, the Strategic Plan's mission statements have been indicative of the topics and technologies that must be addressed by FFTC in response to current agricultural issues and concerns. Among the recommendations from the TAC is for the Center to intensify working with partner institutions in each country in terms of project formulation and identification. Efforts must be enhanced to expand partnership and collaboration with other potential research and academic institutions in the region through better communication/information exchange. Opening up new avenues of cooperation with partner institutions in each country through co-sponsorships and counterpart funding must also be pursued.
In terms of widening the reach and impact of FFTC projects, outputs from various activities can be transformed into usable, practical, retrievable information, in the form of a database, where such elements as subject, relevant technology, and experts can be stored and be made readily available to all users in the region.
FFTC is equally committed to continuously improve the efficiency and effectiveness of its project implementation. Hence, the Center seeks to develop and institutionalize an appropriate systematic mechanism for performance evaluation, the results of which are intended to help improve future project implementation. The performance evaluation system shall aim at ensuring quality standards and efficient project performance based on such criteria as: attainment of project objectives; quality and relevance of outputs related to project objectives, in particular and to the Strategic Plan, in general; quality and efficiency of project implementation and working with partner organizations; meeting participants' expectations; identifying follow-up activities, and so on.
During the TAC meeting, the members were joined by two distinguished resource speakers, Mr. Toshio Kondo from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Ms. Shya-li Alice Chou from the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research (TIER), who shared their lessons and experiences in developing performance evaluation systems.
The TAC members recognized that among the many ways to improve FFTC project performance is to establish a project monitoring and evaluation mechanism. A performance evaluation system is a key part of any project cycle. Performance evaluation frameworks are used as basis for strengthening accountability, determining quality and effectiveness of project implementation, and identifying lessons that can be used to improve future strategy and attainment of goals and objectives.
For FFTC, an appropriate performance evaluation scheme must take into consideration its unique organizational characteristics and project activity types. It was also suggested that the purpose of FFTC's evaluation system must be as basis for determining quality and effectiveness of project implementation and in identifying lessons that can be used to improve future activities.
Figure 1 COA Minister Dr. Wu-Hsiung Chen delivers his opening address during the 19th FFTC-TAC Meeting.
Figure 2 During the field observation tour, the FFTC-TAC members visited the King Car Biotechnology Co., Ltd. (left) and the Marine Research Station, Institute of Cellular and Organismic Biology in I-Lan county, Taiwan ROC (above).
Figure 3 TAC Meeting
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