How did conservation agriculture go to scale? A case study in utilization-focused evaluation

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Ricardo Ramirez
Cynthia Neudoerffer
Michael Salomons



The Foodgrains Bank has an established record working in agriculture and food security with resource constrained, marginalized farmers in sub-Saharan Africa. The three outcome areas of the Scaling-Up Conservation Agriculture in East Africa (SUCA) Program were: the adoption of conservation agriculture systems, an enabling institutional environment, and the promotion of enabling policies. These program areas were expected to yield intermediate outcomes that, together, would lead to the ultimate outcome of improved food security and sustainable livelihoods for smallholder farming households in East Africa. This case study reports on the end-line evaluation of the five-year program.


To illustrate the overlap between utilization-focused evaluation (UFE) and collaborative approaches to evaluation (CAE). The case study profiles an agricultural intervention, and explores how the evaluation design accommodated the systemic nature of the program.


Scaling-Up Conservation Agriculture in East Africa (SUCA) was a five-year program of the Canadian Foodgrains Bank implemented from 2015-2020 to expand the size and scope of Foodgrains Bank’s work in conservation agriculture in East Africa. The program supported local partners with a target of 50,000 male and female farmers practicing a minimum of 2 of 3 conservation agriculture principles, and to improve food security and sustainable livelihoods for 18,000 of these farmers’ households across three countries. 

Research design

The Foodgrains Bank was directly involved in the evaluation design through the definition of evaluation uses and key evaluation questions. Eleven implementing partners in East Africa were involved in primary data collection and some initial analysis.

Data collection and analysis

A mixed method approach was used combining quantitative, qualitative, and participatory / visual data collection tools. A robust, intersectional gender lens was applied to the data collection instruments in the form of gender disaggregated data collection and gender-focused questions across most data collection instruments. 


The collaborative process confirmed a sense of ownership by the primary evaluation users over the evaluation design. The evaluation design combined outcome and learning uses that took advantages of the implementing organizations’ commitment to learning. The findings demonstrated the value of the program and produced a framework illustrating the multi-disciplinary approach underlying its success.


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Ramirez, R., Neudoerffer, C., & Salomons, M. (2022). How did conservation agriculture go to scale? : A case study in utilization-focused evaluation. Journal of MultiDisciplinary Evaluation, 18(42). Retrieved from


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