Assessment of the
Foya Rice Development Project


After the FAO team joined the Foya pilot rice scheme in mid 1970, the team became gradually aware of the following major problems in the scheme:

1. Water availability for irrigated rice
The Foya scheme was presented as being designed for two irrigated rice crops per year. When the dry season started in October 1970 the FAO team found that the
flow of the Foya River very rapidly decreased. Yet the Foya River was the only source of irrigation water for the pilot project of 280 ha. Subsequently the team started to measure the flow of the Foya River at regular intervals during the dry season. Unfortunately the data showed that during the dry season, from October to April, there was only sufficient irrigation water available for 20 % or 50 ha of the pilot project area of 280 ha, assuming a crop water requirement of 1.1 liter/hectare /second for irrigated rice. In addition the team observed during the rainy season from May to September the opposite situation occurred, when the entire 280 hectare project area was frequently flooded for periods of up to four days, causing considerable damage to the standing rice crop. The capacity of the main drainage canal was insufficient to cope with the excess rainwater. See the images shown under Workshop and flooding

2. Land development cost.
The FAO team was informed that land development cost for the Foya rice scheme amounted to US$ 1 250 per ha, covering costs from initial land clearing up to the establishment of the first crop. Comparing this figure of US$ 1 250 /hectare with costs of land development in similar projects in other countries, (average $ 500 /hectare ), van Santen found the per hectare development costs for the Foya rice scheme far too high. To make matters worse, when cross checking the data received, van Santen found that a number of essential expenditures had been excluded from the above cost estimate. Van Santenís revised estimate of the additional non-recorded expenses was that the total land development costs in economic terms of the Foya Pilot Rice Development Scheme were actually in the order of between US$ 1 400 to $ 1 500 per ha.

3. Economic feasibility of the Foya rice scheme.
On the basis of a cropping intensity of 120 per year with rice, a low value crop, The teamís conclusion was that the Foya pilot rice scheme was economically not feasible.
In the early 1970s, long before availability of electronic calculators and personal computers, calculation of the internal rate of return for a complex project as the Foya
rice scheme would have needed a large processing support team for several weeks. In the absence of such a support team, the teamís economist made a rough estimate and found an economic internal rate of return of below 1%, far below the minimum of 12% internal rate of return accepted by the World Bank and other international funding agencies. Recent digitalized recalculations of the IRR confirmed the 1972 estimate.  The calculations were based on the following assumptions:  Initial investment $ 1 250/ha; annual production costs $ 100/ha; Gross returns $ 200/ha (average yield 2000 kg of rough rice/ha @ $0.10/kg)

4. Design of alternative development strategies
In an attempt to solve the problems observed the FAO team designed a number of strategies to cope with the problems identified for the Foya Pilot Rice Cultivation Scheme:

Strategies for improvements within the Foya pilot scheme

The rural economy
Lofa County 1970's
A pictorial story


Charles van Santen
December 2005