This report documents the findings of an evaluation study of the impacts of N2Africa, a ten-year ‘research-in-development’ project that aimed to harness nitrogen fixation for the benefit of small-scale farmers of legume crops. The study analysed N2Africa’s contribution to development outcomes using the methodology of process tracing as a structured way of critically reviewing the change process.
The evaluation focused on N2Africa’s activities in Ghana and Ethiopia. In Ghana, the evaluators examined the evidence base underlying the contribution claim, ‘N2Africa has been a relevant contributory factor in the expansion of soybean production in northern Ghana’. In Ethiopia, they verified the claim that ‘N2Africa has contributed to the increase in production, distribution, uptake and expansion of market demand for legume inoculants’. The evaluation identified the critical causal assumptions underlying the project’s Theory of Change in each case. After reviewing available project documentation and other literature, additional data were gathered through stakeholder interviews. The study sought to verify whether the expected changes had taken place, and assessed the size and importance of N2Africa’s contribution to each of the observed outcomes.
The study found convincing evidence that N2Africa contributed substantially to a process of technological upgrading of soybean production in northern Ghana, yet the project played a relatively small part in the overall increase in soybean production in that region. In Ethiopia, there was clear evidence that N2Africa had made a decisive contribution to expanding the production and supply of legume inoculants, and had stimulated awareness of and demand for inoculants among small numbers of legume farmers. However, the project has only helped the market for legume inoculants to reach a small fraction of its potential.