External Evaluator Lessons Learned Article 1

Lessons Learned
External Evaluator Lessons Learned
External Evaluator Lessons Learned Article 1



Our ongoing evaluations and continuous learning across pilots have generated early insights on the suitability of a pull mechanism approach, pull mechanism design, market impact, and development impact. These early insights are based on AgResults pilots in Kenya, Nigeria, Zambia and Uganda, which aim to incentivize the private sector to invest in creating sustainable, smallholder-oriented markets for beneficial agricultural technologies.

  • The Kenya pilot incentivizes manufacturers and distributors of improved on-farm storage devices to increase sales of these devices to smallholders for storage of grains in maize growing regions of Kenya, with the ultimate objective of improving food security.
  • The Nigeria pilot incentivizes maize aggregators to increase smallholders’ adoption of Aflasafe, a biocontrol agent that mitigates prevalence of cancer-causing aflatoxin in maize, with the ultimate objective of reducing health problems caused by acute and chronic aflatoxin exposure.
  • The Zambia pilot incentivizes maize millers to sell biofortified pro-Vitamin A (PVA) maize meal, and incentivizes seed companies to sell PVA maize seed, with the ultimate objective of reducing the incidence of Vitamin-A deficiency.
  • The Uganda pilot incentivizes seed companies to increase the quantity and quality of legume seeds available, with the ultimate objective of achieving the nutrition and income benefits of increased legume production by smallholders.

In all these pilots, the pull mechanism is designed to incentivize a pre-identified set of private sector actors in the technology value chain (manufacturer, distributor, aggregator, processor, or input provider) to invest in achieving pre-defined outcomes. The pull mechanism defines a prize, outcomes which will trigger the prize, conditions on these outcomes, and an objective means for verification of the outcomes. For example, the Kenya on-farm storage pilot provides a prize to storage distributors for the level of storage sales they achieve (the outcome) on the condition that the sales be made to smallholders within the targeted grain-growing areas. The overarching theory of change across these pilots is based on the premise that the efforts of multiple private sector actors to achieve these outcomes will lead to investments in the development of sustainable and smallholder accessible markets for the technology. In the next section, we discuss initial lessons that we have learned from our ongoing evaluations of the pilots.


Key Lessons

  • Pull mechanisms are appropriate to create market for socially beneficial technologies if the market failures limiting the development of the market can be addressed by private sector; or there are not a multitude of constraints.
  • Lack of response by private sector to the pull mechanism incentives is an early indication of  the need for early course correction
  • The tradeoff between market impact and impact on ultimate beneficiaries needs to be recognized and understood.


The AgResults initiative is a partnership between: