AgResults is a $145 million multilateral initiative that uses Pay-for-Results prize competitions to incentivize, or “pull”, the private sector to overcome agricultural market barriers by investing in innovative research and delivery solutions that improve the lives of smallholder farmers. At our core we are an experiential learning initiative, continuously building evidence on what works, and what does not, in using prize competitions to spur sustainable market change.Read more about our approach
Smallholder Farmers Reached
Current and Past Projects
Prize Funds Awarded (approx)
February 24, 2020
Three years in, the AgResults Vietnam GHG Emissions Reduction Challenge Project has had the opportunity to reflect on its accomplishments testing climate-smart agriculture technologies that increase rice yields. On January 8, the project hosted a learning event with key stakeholders; shortly after, participating private sector companies received prizes for their Phase 2 Crop 2 achievements.
The January 8 learning event brought together key representatives from the Thai Binh People’s Committee, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Crop Production Department, Thai Binh DARD and its Extension Centre to reflect on the project’s efforts to drive down GHG emissions in rice production in the province. Also in attendance were four private sector competitors — An Dinh, Thai Binh Seed, FARI SEED, and Binh Dien Fertilizer — who are participating in the Pay-for-Results prize competition to develop, test, and scale up technologies and tools to reduce GHG emissions in rice production.
The event included remarks a Spring and Summer 2019 Crop evaluation from the Project Manager (SNV) and the Secretariat, as well as an overview of the verification and prize award calculation process. SNV also facilitated a discussion among the four competitors about their experiences as participants. These conversations highlighted the opportunities and challenges around encouraging smallholder farmers to adopt technological packages and modify their practices.
“I would like to thank the Project Management Board of AgResults for initiating this challenging yet meaningful project in Viet Nam,” said Mr. Tran Manh Bao of Thai Binh Seed Corporation. “Thanks to the project, at the corporate level, we have realized the importance of sustainable agriculture production and our own roles model to further enhancing it.”
The event, which was the project’s second Lessons Learned event, reflected the continued emphasis on openness and interaction among the competitors, government officials, and the project staff.
“All key technical and management challenges are regularly collected, documented, and discussed among all parties for timely solutions and appropriate refinement of rules,” explained Project Manager Lead Tran Thu Ha. “This complete transparency has helped the project move forward steadily and has been appreciated across all stakeholders.”
Following the event, AgResults finalized the awards to competitors for their work during Phase 2 Crop 2 of the project. This period covered the summer cropping season, during which the four competitors continued to scale their improved rice growing technologies with smallholder farmers; all four competitors were again successful in increasing yields and reducing rice emissions. These four received proportional prize amounts from a total prize purse of US $500,000 based on their results: Thai Binh ($301,111.49), Binh Dien ($75,820.17), An Dinh ($67,507.46), and FARI SEED ($55,552.88).
Overall, the four technology packages in Crop 2 resulted in an average yield increase of 23.19% and an average GHG reduction of 12.46% against baseline practices. To date, more than 7,000 smallholder farmers have participated in applying these technologies to their rice production processes. 2020 will see two more cropping seasons in which competitors attempt to scale their technologies to as many farmers as possible as they compete for the grand prize.
The AgResults Vietnam GHG Emissions Reduction Challenge Project (2017 – 2020) is a US$8 million prize competition that aims to develop, test, and scale up innovative technologies, tools, and approaches to increase yields and reduce GHG emissions in rice production. The project uses results-based prize incentives to encourage private competitors to deliver packages and training to smallholder farmers. These new approaches will help lower GHG emissions, protect the environment, and ultimately reduce poverty among smallholder farmers in the Thai Binh province in the Red River Delta.
Funded by USAID (US), DFID (UK), DFAT (Australia), GAC (Canada), and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, AgResults has designed and implemented prize competitions since 2013 focused on spurring fundamental change in market relationships between the private sector and smallholder farmers....
February 21, 2020
The Secretariat of AgResults (“Secretariat”) invites your organization to submit a proposal (“Proposal”) to provide Data Collection and Tracking Services (DCTS) in accordance with this Request for Proposals (“RFP”) for the AgResults Tanzania Dairy Productivity Project (“Project”).
The Project is a new project under the AgResults Initiative, which is financed by the governments of Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. For more information about AgResults, please visit www.AgResults.org.
The Project consists of a Pay-for-Results prize competition designed to spur improvements in smallholder dairy productivity in Tanzania. The prize incentive offered by AgResults will target the private sector to drive improved dairy input availability and use, resulting in increased smallholder dairy productivity and incomes.
The Secretariat expects to award a Firm-Fixed-Price Contract to the organization(s) hired for the services detailed in this Request for Proposals (RFP) for a period of four years and two months: Project Period: March 23, 2020 to May 31, 2024
Proposal procedures and instructions follow this letter in Appendix 1 and are incorporated herein and are made a part hereof. By submitting a Proposal and the required completed and signed “Anticorruption Compliance Certification” (Appendix 5), you will have consented to the terms of this RFP, including the proposal procedures and instructions.
Please note the deadline for receipt of proposal, with all required signatures, including a completed and signed Anticorruption Compliance Certification, is due no later than 1700 Hrs. US Eastern Daylight Time (US EDT) on March 06, 2020. Proposal documents should be submitted in one email to email@example.com. Please indicate “Dairy Project DCTS RFP” in the subject line of the email. The full timeline for this RFP is included in Appendix 1.
AgResults will review and evaluate proposal submissions using the evaluation criteria specified in Appendix 4 of this RFP and will select the organization(s) at its sole discretion. The selected organization(s) will be notified in writing. Notwithstanding the notification by the AgResults of the contemplated award, no work shall commence prior to the issuance and signature by the AgResults Secretariat of a Project DCTS Agreement. AgResults reserves the right to select any number of applying organizations or not to select any organization. The AgResults Secretariat reserves the right to award a contract for all or a portion of the work required, issue more than one contract, or to not award a contract.
We look forward to working with you on this opportunity. Should you have any questions or comments please direct them to firstname.lastname@example.org. We appreciate your responsiveness and look forward to a mutually beneficial business relationship.
The RFP and associated documents are linked below:
January 30, 2020
By Tulika Narayan, Abt Associates
As the External Evaluator for AgResults, Abt Associates uses a mix of quantitative and qualitative methods to determine if the AgResults Pay-for-Results prize competitions achieve their objectives. Tulika Narayan serves as the Research Director.
Pay-for-results (PfR) approaches are gaining traction with donors both because they pay only if results are achieved and because they offer the possibility of channeling significant private sector resources into development. One type of PfR approach is the “Challenge Project,” which pits multiple private sector actors in a race to win prizes awarded based on their performance.
AgResults, a $145 million multi-donor initiative, is running a series of such competitions, which award prizes to private sector actors for achieving agriculture development objectives: In Nigeria, competitors won prizes for every metric ton of AflasafeTM-treated maize they procured from smallholder farmers. (AflasafeTM is a biocontrol product that addresses cancer-causing aflatoxins that contaminate maize and other crops in humid climates.) In Kenya, competitors shared prizes in proportion to the volume of improved on-farm storage capacity they sold to smallholder farmers. AgResults has an ongoing competition in Vietnam with grand prizes and proportionate prizes for competitors who increase farmer adoption of low-emission, rice-production technologies.
In designing these Challenge Projects, an important decision is determining the size of the prize. Prize sizing usually focuses on the potential competitors: What prize amount would incentivize competitors to engage in the new market? As the External Evaluator, we argue that an additional consideration should be included if the donors want a positive net return on their investment: Prizes should be based on expected benefits. The prize needs to be higher than what would incentivize private sector to engage in the market, and lower than the expected benefits minus other program costs. In other words, the prize should be such that the return on investment is positive. Ideally, the return on investment should be greater than other alternative approaches to achieve the same goal. If competitors appear to be motivated only by a prize much higher than the expected net benefits, a PfR project may not be the most cost-effective way to achieve the development objective. A comparative cost-effectiveness analysis can assess if traditional approaches, such as grants, are a better strategy.
Let us consider the recent AgResults Nigeria project to assess whether the prize amount allowed the donors to generate a positive return on investment.
Yes, they did. In Nigeria, considering the total cost of the program and the scale of adoption by the end of the third year (when the impact evaluation was completed), the AgResults competition cost $85 for every $100 increase in annual net maize revenue per farmer. This does not include the project’s primary expected benefit: better health from avoiding the consumption of aflatoxin-contaminated maize by farmers and other consumers. This implies that the project had a positive return on the donors’ investment and the prize amount was reasonable. If adoption of AflasafeTM continues and farmers continue to benefit, the return on donor investment will be even higher. In fact, creating a sustained market for the technology is one of the key expected benefits of challenge projects. This highlights the importance of considering the timing of the benefits and analyzing what works best for the appropriate time period. In some markets it may be reasonable to expect that the benefits begin to accrue much farther out in the future. These future returns need to be accounted for.
Before defining the prize value, program designers must estimate the total benefits after accounting the number of expected beneficiaries. This estimate helps set the prize amount given the associated project management and verification costs. Understandably, conducting the analysis in advance means tackling uncertainty in the expected benefits. It is important to recognize if there is significant uncertainty up front. Such awareness can also provide a basis for defining minimum thresholds before the prize is paid out to ensure a positive return on investment or value for money.
Let us consider the AgResults Vietnam example: The Vietnam project anticipates that encouraging 16,000 farmers to apply rice production technologies that reduce GHG emissions and increase rice yields is an achievable goal. It expects to pay out $3.3 million in prizes over four years. Adding in management and verification costs of $4.6 million, the total project cost is about $7.9 million. The expected benefit of adopting low emissions technology ranges from $29 to $302 per farmer annually depending on assumptions about area under cultivation per farmer (averaging 0.25 hectares1), expected income increase from rice cultivation per farmer (5% to 30% increase over annual rice income of $380 per farmer2), expected reduction in GHG emissions (1 CO2e MT/hectare to 18 CO2e MT/hectare per year3) and the social cost of carbon ($42 per MT CO2e).
After discounting for returns that accrue later at a 12% discount rate, the total benefit of the project will range from $942,000 to $17.3 million by the end of the two-year implementation phase of the project. Since AgResults expects project management and verification costs at $4.6 million, the project will not yield a positive return at the lower end of the range of benefits. However, if the benefits are at the high end of the range, then the project will yield a positive return. As a benchmark, in the first rice season of Spring 2019, the average reduction in GHG emissions was 0.6 CO2e MT, which is close to the lower bound for GHG emissions.
As mentioned above, an expectation for AgResults projects is the sustained use of the technologies. To account for these benefits, one needs to make forward-looking assumptions on the scale of adoption: will the scale of adoption increase, decrease, or remain the same? Ideally all scenarios should be evaluated to help benchmark the prize. As an example, in Vietnam if the 16,000 farmers continue to adopt the technology for a total of 20 years, the present value of benefits would range from $7.1 to $73 million. At its current $7.9 million cost, the project would not yield positive returns in the lower range but could afford a very large prize if the benefits are in the higher range.
Alternately, a prize of $2.5 million (instead of $3.3 million) would have ensured that even in the low scenario, the project yields a positive return. If a higher prize value is needed to attract competitors, defining prize value and parameters that set a minimum threshold before prizes are paid may address the possible negative return on investment. This could be set by defining a minimum threshold of total emissions reduction achieved, or the number of smallholder farmers reached by competitors or both at which benefits are greater than cost. Most importantly, we argue that assessing the expected benefits, and the uncertainty therein, is critical before program designers define the prize value.
1. USAID Analysis of Investments for achieve Low Emissions Growth rice survey in Vietnam, 2013.
2. USAID Analysis of Investments for achieve Low Emissions Growth rice survey in Vietnam, 2013.
3. At the lower end the emissions can in fact increase. Assuming that all technologies result in a reduction, we have used 1 CO2e MT/hectare as the lower bound....
January 24, 2020
On January 22, the AgResults Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) Vaccine Challenge Project, which uses a prize competition to support the development and uptake of high-quality FMD vaccines tailored for Eastern Africa, officially launched. Two launch events took place during the EuFMD Global Vaccine Security Meeting and brought together stakeholders from the animal health industry to recognize the project’s potential.
Held at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) headquarters in Rome, a daytime session included presentations from the Pirbright Institute, AgResults, and GALVmed about the project’s goals and approach. In attendance were animal health companies from around the world interested in participating in the competition and developing new FMD vaccines. After the presentations, potential competitors had a chance to ask questions and learn more about the prize structure and timeline.
Following the daytime session, an evening reception featured Her Excellency Zenebu Tadesse Woldetsadik, the Permanent Representative of Ethiopia to the FAO, as well as Dr. Berhe Tekola, Director of Animal Production and Health at FAO. This reception allowed potential participants to meet one-on-one with AgResults and Project Manager GALVmed and continue earlier conversations.
“The FMD issue is not only an issue of economic benefit. It goes beyond that,” said Dr. Tekola. “For a smallholder to lose a cow, they are not just losing an animal, but they are losing their livelihood. FAO values what [AgResults] is doing and we will keep collaborating with you because no individual organization can do their work alone.”
GALVmed CEO Dr. Carolin Schumacher, who spoke at the daytime session, noted that the project could bring real change to an extremely challenging environment.
“Endemic throughout Eastern Africa, FMD has devastating effects on livestock production and utility that can significantly impact livelihoods and food security, especially for smallholder farmers,” said Dr. Schumacher. “The AgResults ‘Pay-for-Results’ model is designed to both incentivize industry actors to focus resources on this underserved market and enable buyers to better combat FMD through more consistent vaccine purchases—with the end-goal being a long-term, regional FMD control framework and a sustainable market for FMD vaccines.”
The project uses a prize competition to achieve two interconnected goals for FMD control: creating a high-quality vaccine to address all regional risks and building stronger distribution networks. The prize is structured as a cost-share that reduces the cost-per-dose for buyers, enabling public and private sector actors to better combat FMD through more consistent purchases of the new vaccines. Such efforts aim to create a market around an effective solution that will improve animal health and strengthen farmer livelihoods. These goals align with AgResults’ broader objectives.
“Since 2013, AgResults has been working all over the world on prize competitions that tackle critical agricultural and market challenges,” said Rodrigo Ortiz, lead consultant for AgResults. “We are excited to lead this effort to leverage private sector innovation and address vaccine development and distribution in Eastern Africa.”
Over eight years, the project is expected to incentivize manufacturers to invest in developing and distributing a high-quality vaccine by demonstrating the economic benefits. By developing a stable market around FMD control, smallholder farmers should more easily access the vaccine, which is expected to reduce losses in productivity and livestock among smallholder farmers.
Speaking on her organization’s role as Project Manager, Dr. Schumacher said, “GALVmed’s expertise in facilitating efficient delivery of quality veterinary medicines to smallholder farmers fits very well with the project’s intention to integrate commercial and policy approaches to achieve widespread adoption of the new vaccines.”
For more information, visit the AgResults FMD Vaccine Challenge Project page. Please note that this page will continue to be updated in early 2020.
The project is part of AgResults, a $145 million collaborative initiative between the governments of Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the World Bank Group that uses prize competitions to incentivize the private sector to overcome market barriers and create lasting change. Through AgResults’ Pay-for-Results model, these competitions encourage actors to achieve predetermined results thresholds and quality for monetary prizes....
January 6, 2020
On behalf of the AgResults Tanzania Dairy Productivity Challenge Project, the Project Manager (PM) Land O’Lakes Venture 37 invites your organization to participate in a prize competition through which the Project aims to test Pay-for-Results mechanism approaches to scaling up innovative technologies, tools, and approaches to increase dairy productivity through the use of improved input. The competition will take place in the coastal region of Tanzania, and specifically the regions of Dar es Salaam, Pwani, Tanga, and Morogoro (excluding Kilombero and Ulanga districts).
Land O’Lakes Venture 37 is calling for applications from potential Competitors who are established entities from the private, parastatal, and non-profit sectors to participate in the project.
The RFA outlines the competition background, objectives, and rules, and includes an application form. In submitting an application, your organization consents to the RFA terms, including the application procedures and instructions.
Please note the deadlines for receipt of the application, with all required signatures and certifications, is due no later than 1700 Hrs. ET on February 28, 2020. Application documents must be submitted in one email to AgResultsTanzania@gmail.com or hand delivered to Veterinary Complex;131 Nelson Mandela Road, Dar es Salaam. Please indicate “Competitor RFA-AgResults Tanzania Dairy Productivity Project” in the subject line of the email or on the cover page.
The Project management team will review applications according to the criteria described herein. The applicants whose applications meet the selection criteria will be invited to participate in the competition.
We encourage you to submit an application and join us for a chance to win prizes and contribute to the development of a dairy sector in Tanzania. Should you have any questions or comments please direct them to NMrema@landolakes.org. We appreciate your timely response to this RFA and look forward to cooperating with you on this important project.
January 6, 2020
by Justin Kosoris
This blog post was originally published on the USAID Climatelinks blog.
“No pilots fail, but no pilots scale.”
Dr. Bruce Campbell, director of the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture, and Food Security, lamented this on the first morning of the 5th Global Science Conference on Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA). This was a common refrain at the conference: Many technologies and practices are effective on a small scale but have limited widespread uptake.
How can we overcome this struggle and scale crucial climate-smart technologies and practices? As we showed at the CSA conference, AgResults’ prize competition model that leverages private sector innovation and investment offers a solution. By engaging the private sector to scale up climate-smart technologies, we can mitigate emissions and prepare smallholder farmers for a changing climate. AgResults’ work in Vietnam shows how a prize competition creates a potential roadmap for scale using three steps: 1) short-term incentives, 2) potential for replicability, and 3) carbon market creation.
Short-term incentives. The Vietnam prize competition’s objective of reducing GHG emissions is leading to near-term economic benefits beyond the prizes. GHG emissions are not easily measured or monetized, but the competition is incentivizing behavior changes that could have tangible economic impacts for farmers and competitors: For smallholder farmers, practices that reduce on-farm GHG emissions may increase yields and reduce input and labor costs. For companies, incorporating these technologies into their business models boosts the likelihood that the Vietnamese government will recognize production practices that could create a possible market share for a “clean” rice product. These incentives bridge the gap between current practices and hard-to-quantify emission reductions. They could motivate participating companies and the government to expand climate-smart rice farming practices through the target region of Thai Binh Province in the Red River Delta. Scaling nationally, though, hinges on replicating this approach in Vietnam’s largest rice-producing area, the Mekong River Delta.
Potential for replicability. The project’s robust verification system makes it an appealing candidate for potential replication and expansion. Building on the project’s GHG verification system or using another approach such as the Sustainable Rice Platform, a relatively small prize fund in the Mekong Delta could spark a scale-up similar to we are seeing in the Red River Delta. The political will exists: Already the Vietnamese government supports scaling up climate-smart farming practices to help the country meet its Paris Agreement goal of agriculture-led GHG emissions reductions. However, without a market that monetizes carbon reductions, immediate economic benefits from improved practices may not be enough to overcome upscaling costs.
Creation of a carbon market. Although our project does not explicitly focus on creating a carbon market, its proven model for verifying reductions provides the technical clout to support an eventual carbon credit market for rice farming in Vietnam. The project uses similar verification methods to California’s carbon credit market for rice farming, although Vietnam’s thousands of small fields — a far cry from sprawling California farms — bring unique monitoring challenges. Yet armed with political will and the ability to track and verify data, a dedicated coalition of public and private stakeholders could pilot a carbon market for Vietnam. The additional income from selling carbon credits, on top of efficiency gains from reduced input costs and increased yields, could propel scale-up beyond the reach of any prize competition.
By combining short-term incentives with a replicable design, AgResults’ prize competition in Vietnam has laid out a potential roadmap for scaling climate-smart technologies. We were honored to contribute to the conversations at the CSA conference, and we welcome the chance to think through how similar initiatives could incentivize further private sector action through prize competitions....