Based on a report put forward by Patton in Alkin, it is stated there are three key elements of evaluation:
- Systematic information collection
- People or groups of people who are identifiable
- Decision-making related to a product or enhancing program effectiveness
Like every other sector, the agricultural sector has its own characteristics which are both complex and multi-faceted. The concept of agriculture started about ten thousand years ago and is related directly to how people respond to environmental changes and the means that allow humans to survive, organise, develop technologies, evolve socially, and prosper. The major challenge faced by the agricultural sector today is feeding the world population equitably and protecting the environment from irreversible negative changes simultaneously. Every agricultural program is a part of a highly complex, interrelated system, the evaluation of which involves considering contextually sensitive issues.
Agricultural evaluation involves:
- Re-examining the adequacy of the project logic that is pre-determined in planning and appraisal documents.
- Determining the project adequacy in addressing and overcoming the situational constraints, and promoting the desired results.
- Determining result deficiencies and the associated reason by comparing achievable achievements with expected ones.
- Assessing the efficiency and effectiveness of project activities and the ways they are managed.
- Determining both the intended and unintended impacts of the project.
- Examining the result of the project.
- Determining the increase in production and the associated reasons.
- Examining the project’s economic efficiency.
- Presenting the lessons learned by implementing the project and the subsequent recommendations.
The purpose of an agricultural evaluation is to provide a report to justify spending and to understand whether the set objectives have been met.
Even though major portions of the country are arid, agriculture is one of the driving factors of the country’s economy. Australian agriculture contributes 3% to GDP, which is about $50 billion. A report put forward by the National Farmers Federation states that “there are approximately 134,000 farm businesses in Australia, 99% of which are Australian owned. Each Australian farmer produces enough food to feed 600 people, 150 at home and 450 overseas. Australian farmers produce almost 93% of Australia’s daily domestic food supply”. The agricultural products of the country are quite contrasting, including wheat, barley, sugarcane, lupin, chickpeas, oats, barley, etc. Australia is the world’s largest producer of lupin bean, the world’s second-largest producer of chickpeas, and the fourth-largest producer of barley and oats in the world.
Australian Agriculture: Then and Now
Today Australia’s livestock industry has more than 27 million sheep contrary to 1788 when the country’s livestock industry had just 7 horses, 7 cattle, 29 sheep, 74 pigs, 5 rabbits, 18 turkeys, 29 geese, 35 ducks, and 209 fowls. Liberated prisoners were granted land in the colonisation of Australia in 1787 in New South Wales. This land was tax, rent, fee, and acknowledgment free for ten long years. Free migrants and marines were also granted similar grants in 1789. By 1860, 1.2 million acres of land were under crop production, contributing to Australian agriculture.
With the advent of rail, heavy machinery, and technology, the requirement for manual labour decreased and so was the need for horses and bullocks to draw carts. Machinery replaced sickles and reaping hooks for ploughing the fields and bullocks were replaced by tractors, trains, and trucks for heavy work and transport. This eased the harvesting of crops and grains and therefore the number of farms grew rapidly. The evolution of grain storage (silos) and processing facilitated farmers to store grains on farms for future use to feed livestock or store for use in the next season’s crop. Eventually, refrigeration influenced Australian agriculture in the 19th century, prior to which, perishable items were stored in cool rooms or ice boxes, and the meat was canned or preserved. To sustain the farms, vegetable gardens, fruit trees, dairy cows, and slaughterhouses were run.
With the advancement in technology and farming practices, came educated farmers. Enhanced productivity, biosecurity, and environmental sustainability made Australian farmers stand out in the world market. Agriculture has become export-oriented over the last twenty years where approximately two-thirds of overall production is now exported.
Characterised by recurring droughts, heat, floods, and temperature fluctuations, Australia’s climatic condition is extreme, which is challenging for the agricultural food production system. Droughts are a critical issue since the late 1700s and continue to affect agriculture through crop and stock losses. Agriculture is one of the governing factors of the Australian economy. But, foreign government policies in global agricultural trade have impacted Australian farmers negatively. China is the largest importer of Australian agricultural products, followed by Japan, the US, and the Republic of Korea.
Australian farmer’s database-KG2 is the go-to specialist resource for stakeholders in the Australian agricultural industry, known for providing independent research and marketing services. Contact us to know about Australian agriculture in detail.