The evaluation team (ET) appraised background documents, and for 21 days, visited field sites in Nepal, India and Bangladesh during February 2015. Field time in Bangladesh was restricted to only one of six hubs due to risks associated with socio-political disturbances (severe hartals).
The Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia (CSISA) staff presentations to the ET helped compensate for reduced field visits, but we are the first to recognize that site visits are critical to gaining data and understanding the program. The CSISA Initiative is complex. It is composed of different management across countries and a diversity of innovation and adoption processes, involving many diverse international and national stakeholders. This complexity made it challenging for the ET to capture all aspects evenly, in all places. On the other hand, this complexity also makes CSISA a powerful, holistic research and development model that can, and does, bring about changes in sustainable intensification and strategic farm-level diversification. Complexity should be understood as a positive dimension, regardless of the difficulties in appraising CSISA’s “Big Tent” (projects across the Initiative) performance and impact.