Feature Stories



Experience of Developing PPSD for the Assam Agribusiness and Rural Transformation Project (APART), India

on behalf of 'Team APART' by M. Rahman, Sr. Procurement Specialist, ARIAS Society

APART is a new generation project in World Bank's portfolio, given the apparent complexities in its scope, the need for temporal and spatial synchronization of diverse activities including production, aggregation, processing, and marketing of agri-products necessary for optimum utilization of resources and maximum benefits. Intervention on all aspects of the value chain viz. on-farm production, post-harvest handling and processing, marketing of farm products is necessary for achieving the transformative results and project development objectives.

The Project Procurement Strategy Development (PPSD) for APART has been prepared based on the World Bank's 'New Procurement Framework to determine the optimum procurement approach to be adopted to deliver the right procurement result. While preparing the PPSD, the market situation, the operational context, previous experience and the risks present were taken into consideration.

The Challenge and Opportunity:

From the Operational Context, the ARIAS Society, the implementing agency, has been in an advantageous position with its experience and knowledge since 1995 in implementing 2 consecutive World Bank supported projects in Agriculture sector in India. Nevertheless, PPSD being a completely new concept for the project team, initial understanding took time. However, the procurement team of ARIAS being well conversant with World Bank Procurement Framework, could prepare PPSD  in time with inputs from the technical team. World Bank Procurement Team engaged with the project right from the beginning and conducted a one day workshop for developing a common understanding of the requirements and roles and responsibilities of technical and procurement team.

Procurement under the project are diverse ranging from animal vaccines to live animals to roads, markets and warehouses modernization, hiring of investment fund manager, cluster development, support to partnering with international not for profit organizations.  This is made more complex by the involvement of many implementing Departments like (i) Agriculture, (ii) Industries and Commerce, (iii) Fishery, (iv) Animal Husbandry and Veterinary, (v) Public Works (Roads), (vi) Cooperation, (vii) Handloom, Textiles and Sericulture, and (viii) Panchayat & Rural Development.

Organizing such a huge number and diverse set of Departments, acquainting them with the new procurement regulations of the World Bank and the concept of PPSD and taking them on board during preparation of PPSD was a challenging and intricate task. The sustained perseverance of ARIAS has ensured active involvement of the Departments in the development of the PPSD to bring in their ownership and domain knowledge.

Market Analysis:

An analysis of the key focus areas for procurement under the project was undertaken and their market potentiality was carried out ahead of preparation of the PPSD. Several rounds of detailed discussions were held with all the line departments of APART, major sector experts and the ARIAS has collated relevant secondary literature pertaining to similar operations elsewhere.

The procurement team along with the technical team has extensively engaged in the stakeholder consultation workshops during the project preparation phase and collated plethora of information relating to the market for different procurement envisaged under the project. In addition, internet based information was also extensively used to identify the different potential players in the market for the various key procurements, market size of suppliers, market share etc.
Limited presence of large consulting firms in the North Eastern (NE) region of India including Assam was another hindrance in market exploration. Large consulting firms (and their personnel) in most cases are reluctant to come to Assam, as the NE region has in the recent past went through difficult situations and floods are a chronic problem in most parts of the state.  

Information available from the State Public Works Department from its computerized vendor/contractor data base of over 3000 registered Class-I contractors were used for assessing the market for civil work contracts in the Project. On the other hand, during the analysis it was found that the market for Vaccines for Pigs and other Livestock has been found to be limited in India with very few manufacturers and suppliers. These leads about market for different types of procurement emerged from the PPSD preparation and helped in planning appropriate market approach options in the Procurement Plan.
As a departure from the conventional project approaches, APART makes a concerted effort in bringing in clean and climate resilient technologies and consider economic, social and environmental sustainability as one of the main objective of the program. This focus has significant impact on procurement program for the project, as the technology in such context requires the Project to bring in many international, not for profit institutions on strategic partnership arrangements. In order to achieve the above objectives, ARIAS scanned nationally and internationally available sources for such supplies and service solutions. PPSD development process helped ex ante identification of such national and international institutions for collaborations with adequate justifications for direct contracting options.

Impact and Lessons Learnt:

A very positive factor that has influenced the successful preparation of PPSD is that the project team of ARIAS has numbers of technical professionals hired from the market, who are well versed with the supply side as well. Moreover, the PPSD would not have been possible without the support and guidance by the World Bank Task Team. It is apparent that the procurement unit of the project implementing entity must engage extensively with the technical team, experts and the stakeholders during the project preparation phase to understand the project or else they will not be able to prepare a good and effective PPSD.  

With the preparation of PPSD, there is a good understanding of the suppliers and the markets in which they operate and how these shape the nature and availability of goods or services to be used by the project. For example, the market dynamics or commercial practices/contract conditions are different for some goods/services from those followed in public procurement. This aspect may dither certain potential firms/bidders. With the market analysis done, ARIAS now understands how technology and other factors are driving changes in the market for the particular goods or services required by the project, how goods and services are priced and how service quality and standards are set by suppliers, and this will help during developing Specifications/Conditions/Terms of Reference which reflect conditions in that market, keeping the core procurement principles of the World Bank intact.

Overall, development of the PPSD has been a great challenge but at the same time, it has also been a great learning experience.  However, more learning will come during implementation of the PPSD.

The Project was approved by World Bank Board on August 30, 2017.
For more information on PPSD and procurement in the project, please contact A K Kalesh Kumar (kalesh@worldbank.org)