Often projects form a clear and distinct portion of a larger, less precisely identified program. The whole program might possibly be analyzed as a single project, but by and large it is better to keep projects rather small, close to the minimum size that is economically, technically, and administratively feasible. Similarly, it is generally better in planning projects to analyze successive increments or distinct phases of activity; in this way the return to each relatively small increment can be judged separately. If a project approaches program size, there is a danger that high returns from one part of it will mask low returns from another. A 100,000-hectare land settlement program may well be better analyzed as five 20,000-hectare projects if the soils and slopes in some parts are markedly different from those in others. Analyzing the whole project may hide the fact that it is economically unwise to develop some parts of the 100,000-hectare area instead of moving on to an entirely different region. When arranging for external financing or planning the administrative structure, it is sometimes convenient for planners to group several closely related projects into a single, larger “package.” In these instances it may still be preferable to retain the separate analyses of individual components, in a composite of the whole, rather than to aggregate them into a single, overall analysis.
Again, all we can say in general about a project is that it is an activity for which money will be spent in expectation of returns and which logically seems to lend itself to planning, financing, and implementing as a unit. It is the smallest operational element prepared and implemented as a separate entity in a national plan or program of agricultural development. It is a specific activity, with a specific starting point and a specific ending point, intended to accomplish specific objectives. Usually it is a unique activity noticeably different from preceding, similar investments, and it is likely to be different from succeeding ones, not a routine segment of an ongoing program. It will have a well-defined sequence of investment and production activities, and a specific group of benefits, that we can identify, quantify, and, usually in agricultural projects, determine a money value for.
If development can be pictured as a progression with many dimensions-temporal, spatial, sociocultural, financial, economic-projects can be seen as the temporal and spatial units, each with a financial and economic value and a social impact, that make up the continuum. A project is an undertaking an observer can draw a boundary around-at least a conceptual boundary-and say “this is the project.” As well as its time sequence of investments, production, and benefits, the project normally will have a specific geographic location or a rather clearly understood geographic area of concentration. Probably there will also be a specific clientele in the region whom the project is intended to reach and whose traditional social pattern the project will affect.
Given the usefulness of the project format in the development process, the project has increasingly been used as a “time slice” of a long-term program for a region, a commodity, or a function such as agricultural extension. Although such projects normally have a definite beginning and end, the importance of these starting and finishing points is reduced. Such , a use of the project format also makes quantification of benefits more difficult because some benefits may not be realized until subsequent phases of the program that are not included in the project. Often a project will have a partially or wholly independent administrative structure and set of accounts and will be funded through a specifically defined financial package. I hope that, after following the methodology presented.