Our Unique Approach

AgResults is a $152 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

Our Portfolio of Innovative Projects

Nigeria

Completed
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Nigeria Aflasafe™ Challenge Project

Completed

Uganda

Completed
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Uganda Legume Seeds Challenge Project

Completed

Zambia

Completed
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Zambia Biofortified Maize Challenge Project

Completed

Vietnam

Completed
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Vietnam Emissions Reduction Challenge Project

Completed

Kenya

Completed
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Kenya On-Farm Storage Challenge Project

Completed

Brucellosis (Global)

In Progress
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Brucellosis Vaccine Challenge Project

In Progress

Foot and Mouth Disease Vaccine

In Progress
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Foot and Mouth Disease Vaccine Challenge Project

In Progress

Tanzania Dairy

In Progress
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Tanzania Dairy Productivity Challenge Project

In Progress

Indonesia Aquaculture

In Progress
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Indonesia Aquaculture Challenge Project

In Progress

Senegal Crop Storage Finance

In Progress
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Senegal Crop Storage Finance Challenge Project

In Progress

AgResults by the Numbers

133

Competitors

394362

Smallholder Farmers Reached

10

Current and Past Projects

$12.9m

Prize Funds Awarded (approx)

News and Blog

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Published: October 17, 2022

Exploring the Post-Project PVA Maize Market in Zambia

October 17, 2022

Vitamin A deficiency is a significant problem in Zambia: More than half of Zambian children ages 6 months to 5 years are deficient in Vitamin A, increasing their vulnerability to infections such as diarrhea, sight impairment, and other health problems. To combat this, in 2012, HarvestPlus, a multi-donor agricultural health and nutrition program, released three hybrid seed varieties of Pro-Vitamin A (PVA) maize high in beta-carotene. HarvestPlus aimed to target rural areas and promote the adoption of new PVA maize hybrids among smallholder farmers. Following these efforts by HarvestPlus, in 2014 AgResults launched a Pay-for-Results prize competition to (1) incentivize seed companies to produce and sell PVA maize seed to farmers and (2) incentivize millers to purchase PVA maize from farmers to mill and sell as PVA maize meal to urban and peri-urban consumers. However, myriad enabling environment challenges limited private sector participation, along with low consumer awareness and demand, so AgResults was forced to close the project in early 2018.

Although the AgResults project did not produce the intended results, it still laid the groundwork for later growth. Two seed companies that participated in the competition and were awarded monetary prizes continued to incorporate PVA maize into their operations in the following years. PVA maize is now a significant portion of their sales, and these actions have also encouraged competition for PVA maize seed production among from several other seed companies.

In the four years since the project ended, PVA maize seed sales have noticeably increased. A half dozen seed companies, including some of whom participated in the AgResults competition, have continued to sell PVA maize seed and improve their practices around PVA maize seed production. Their actions have been buoyed by increased demand for PVA maize, largely driven by government programs and non-governmental organizations through programs focusing on rural consumption. At the same time, as public opinion of PVA maize has improved among peri-urban and urban populations in Zambia, there has been a diversification of PVA maize products in the markets – no longer just maize meal but also snacks and other food products. Looking ahead, it will take a combination of efforts led by the government and by the private sector to determine the long-term future of the PVA maize market in Zambia.

A Lessons Learned article explores this narrative in more detail.

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Published: October 03, 2022

AgResults Shares Experience Scaling Mitigation Practices at Forum Dedicated to Climate and Clean Air

October 3, 2022

Improvements to air quality can have many benefits, ranging from public health to agriculture to water quality. From September 26-30, the Global Methane, Climate, and Clean Air Forum discussed opportunities to protect the climate and improve air quality, specifically focusing on the role and impact of methane. AgResults joined the conversation on September 28, contributing its perspective on using a Pay-for-Results prize competition to scale climate-smart agriculture technologies to mitigate GHG emissions in Vietnam rice farming.

The Forum, sponsored by the Global Methane Initiative and the Climate & Clean Air Coalition, brought together industry leaders, technical experts, researchers, and policymakers to engage in a series of plenary sessions and technical panels. In addition to an in-person gathering just outside of Washington, D.C., the Forum featured a virtual attendance option.

On September 28, Justin Kosoris of AgResults joined a technical panel session titled “Best Practices in Scaling Mitigation from Paddy Rice” that was moderated by Jack Okamuro of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Other panelists included: Tran Dai Dghia of Vietnam; Michele Reba of the U.S. Department of Agriculture; Bjoern Ole Sander of the International Rice Research Institute; and Shailendra Mishra of Olam.

During his presentation, Mr. Kosoris explored how AgResults’ Pay-for-Results prize competition (2017-2021) in Vietnam encouraged the private sector in Thai Binh Province to develop and scale rice farming technology packages to mitigate GHG emissions, reduce water consumption, and increase productivity. By working with smallholder rice farmers in the Red River Delta, competing businesses were able to adjust their business models and investment strategies to raise awareness of climate-smart agriculture practices.

“While the total GHG emissions were less than originally anticipated, the project showed the potential for this type of funding mechanism to drive greenhouse gas-mitigating behaviors at scale,” said Mr. Kosoris. “Our challenge now is to develop cost-effective means of verifying emissions reductions, particularly as carbon markets begin to emerge for agricultural commodities.”

The project, which used a Pay-for-Results prize competition structure, worked well as a model to incentivize scaling in part because all three main stakeholder groups saw the ‘pull’ mechanism as effective: Private sector companies saw it as sufficient motivation to drive changes to their business model to promote sustainable rice farming technologies. Smallholder farmers saw it as a means to access new farming techniques and innovative fertilizer products that improved yields and value chain relationships. And the Thai Binh Province government viewed the PfR model as having potential to replicate elsewhere in the country.

In terms of what comes next for Vietnam, there are already efforts underway to scale the AgResults approach in the Mekong Delta and develop an alternative to the Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP). These activities aim to cover 200-500,000 hectares, driving wide-scale adoption of green farming practices, increasing incomes, and empowering women-led households and enterprises.

Through its five days, the Global Methane, Climate, and Clean Air Forum successfully engaged a diverse set of stakeholders to discuss the importance of air quality and the significance of methane in this discussion. AgResults was glad to join the conversation and share its perspective on the role that a Pay-for-Results approach can play to incentivize adoption and scaling of climate-smart agricultural technologies and practices.

For more information on the Global Methane, Climate, and Clean Air Forum, visit the conference website. For more details on the Vietnam GHG Emissions Reduction Challenge Project, check out the final report and the project page.

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Published: September 16, 2022

The Impact of Blending Pay-for-Results Incentivized Inputs and Dairy Advisory Services in Tanzania

September 19, 2022

Of the many threats that Tanzania’s dairy sector faces, disease is one of the biggest. Parasitic, viral, and bacterial diseases not only limit livestock productivity but also increase animal mortality. For example, tick-borne diseases cause about 72% of annual cattle mortality in Tanzania. In theory, these diseases can be controlled by drugs and improved animal health services; in reality, most smallholder dairy farmers have limited knowledge of the necessary practices to manage their animals’ health.

This limited knowledge, combined with an historical struggle to acquire productivity-enhancing inputs on the market to prevent parasites and diseases, has affected animal health, reduced milk production, increased animal mortality, and had economic consequences for smallholder farmers. However, by increasing access to high-quality inputs, including vaccines and parasite control, as well as learning proper practices to use them, smallholder farmers can improve the health of their animals – increasing productivity and incomes.

The AgResults Tanzania Dairy Productivity Challenge Project is a four-year Pay-for-Results prize competition that encourages private sector input suppliers to sell productivity-increasing inputs to smallholder farmers. By providing a prize for each bundle of inputs delivered by participating input providers (competitors), the competition plans to increase animal health and productivity, boost smallholder farmers’ income, and strengthen value chain relationships between dairy producers and the formal dairy sector. Eligible inputs include parasite control, nutrition, vaccines, and artificial insemination (AI). Importantly, to qualify for a prize, competing input providers must provide embedded advisory services with the bundles.

Competitor Approaches to Using Advisory Services

In Sales Periods 1 and 2, competitors used advisory services to promote smallholders’ use and understanding of these inputs. Competitors have increased the number of farm visits conducted by their extensionists, resulting in more diverse as well as repeat sales and improved relationships among smallholder farmers and competitors. Some competitors have even opened additional retail outlets in remote regions of the country for farmers who previously did not have access to improved inputs or advisory services. These advisory services help farmers to not only understand the importance of adopting these inputs but to see results.

As part of their strategy to proactively provide advisory services to smallholder farmers, competing input suppliers have incorporated a range of other activities, such as establishing good recordkeeping practices to support their business operations, using professional veterinary technicians specifically for AI and vaccination services, and providing extensionists with tools and equipment as they provide services to smallholder farmers. These actions are helping competitors to earn the trust of their farmer clients, strengthening relationships along the value chain and the overall enabling environment.

Case Study: Damian Agrovet Invests in Stronger Relationships with Farmers

Like other leading competitors, input provider Damian Agrovet has enthusiastically embraced providing advisory services in Sales Period 1 and 2 to equip farmers with the knowledge and skills that they need. By recruiting professional extensionists in the Gairo District, the company has provided advisory services to individuals and groups through frequent farm and village visits. Through these visits, Damian has seen repeat sales of inputs as well as improved livestock management among participating smallholder farmers.

With these higher sales and stronger relationships built during the more frequent farm visits, tick infestations and mortality rates have dropped while milk production has significantly increased. As a result, Damian has earned farmers’ trust and is further investing to manage these new and improved relationships. The company upgraded their recordkeeping system to better monitor farmer progress and ensure that they are receiving the appropriate inputs at the right time. To expand their services, they have purchased motorbikes, smartphones, and other equipment so that extensionists can provide prompt, exceptional services to the farmers in remote regions that were previously unserved.

Input Suppliers’ Investments are Translating into Noticeable Change

As the Damian example shows, using improved advisory services has resulted in significantly higher sales of productivity increasing inputs during the first two sales periods. For example, from Sales Period 1 to Sales Period 2, sales of vaccine and parasite control bundles rose 83.74% and 66.22%, respectively. Equally importantly, smallholder farmers are observing first-hand the changes experienced from using vaccines and parasite control inputs.

They have reported that: 

  • Spraying, dipping, and deworming the animals has helped eliminate external and internal parasites.
  • Farmers’ animal mortality rate has dropped significantly because of vaccinations.
  • Tick infestation has dramatically fallen with diverse acaricides to help control parasite resistance.
  • Milk production has increased due to deworming and spraying of the animals and improved nutrition.

By providing advisory services required by the AgResults competition, competitors are starting to teach smallholder farmers the importance of livestock management and the value of productivity enhancing input bundles. As farmers in Tanzania gain access to these inputs and receive regular advisory services, their knowledge of livestock management is improving as is their use of vaccines and parasite control inputs, resulting in healthier and more productive cows.

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Published: June 01, 2022

Using Pay-for-Results Incentives to Support a Reduction in Emissions Intensity in Tanzania

June 1, 2022

By Sydney Maanibe

Sydney Maanibe is a Program Manager at Land O’Lakes Venture37 based in Arden Hills, Minnesota, and is part of the Project Manager team for the AgResults Tanzania Dairy Productivity Challenge Project.

Driven by excess greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions such as methane, carbon dioxide (CO2), and nitrous oxide, climate change is one of the defining challenges of the 21st century. Transforming weather patterns and threatening food production, the impact is truly devastating. Globally, agriculture, forestry, and land use account for 18.4% of total GHG emissions. In Eastern Africa, agricultural emissions represent 34% of Africa’s overall agricultural emissions; approximately 80% of that comes from livestock.

This year, #WorldMilkDay focuses on efforts to accelerate climate action and help reduce the dairy sector’s impact on the planet. An important climate action indicator for the dairy industry is emissions intensity, which is defined as the amount of GHG emissions required to make one liter of milk. When productivity goes up, emissions intensity goes down. So by increasing productivity, the dairy sector can reduce its overall GHG emissions, helping to limit its effects on climate change.

In Tanzania, the importance of reducing emissions intensity is especially critical. Tanzania has the second largest cattle herd in Eastern Africa but is the least efficient milk producer, producing approximately 2.2 billion liters of milk per year by a herd of 28.8 million cattle and emitting a current average emissions intensity of approximately 7-9 kilograms of CO2 eq per kg. In comparison, current emissions intensity in North America is around 1-2 kg of CO2 eq per kg.

Emissions intensity is clearly a problem in Tanzania, but the country’s dairy farmers face several challenges that limit their ability to improve their animals’ productivity. These include limited access to high-quality affordable nutrition products and other inputs that can prevent diseases such as parasite control and vaccines, insufficient advisory services, and poor animal genetics.

Recognizing these challenges and their contributions to emissions intensity, the AgResults Tanzania Dairy Challenge Productivity Project is using a Pay-for-Results prize competition to encourage private sector input suppliers to deliver high-quality inputs — nutrition products, vaccines, parasite control products and artificial insemination services — and advisory services to smallholder farmers. By providing a cash prize for each bundle of high-quality inputs delivered, the competition aims to increase animal productivity, boost smallholder farmers’ income, and strengthen value chain relationships between dairy producers and the formal dairy sector.

The AgResults Tanzania Dairy Productivity Challenge Project provides monetary prizes based on the types of input bundles that competitors provide to smallholder dairy farmers.

After two years, AgResults competitors have sold more than 50,000 productivity-enhancing input bundles, supporting the provision of nutrition supplements, enhancing animal genetics, and using vaccinations as well as parasite control products to improve animal health. Smallholder farmers have noted a direct improvement in animal productivity and overall health due to the enhanced inputs and services they have received. Some have indicated that they have seen a doubling or even tripling of milk volumes from their animals.

It’s still too early to tell how these input bundles will impact emissions intensity and much harder to attribute any shifts directly to the AgResults competition. But it is efforts like this that will help to move the needle in a positive direction on dairy productivity, emissions intensity, and eventually on GHG emissions.

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Published: May 20, 2022

Tanzania Award Ceremony Recognizes Competitor Achievements in Sales Period 2

May 20, 2022

On May 19, the AgResults Tanzania Dairy Productivity Challenge Project held an award ceremony to recognize the achievements of input suppliers over the competition’s second sales period to deliver productivity-increasing inputs, along with advisory services, to smallholder farmers. Since 2020, the project has tackled issues of low dairy productivity and limited access to inputs, providing monetary prizes for businesses that deliver a variety of input ‘bundles’ and advisory services to farmers.

Held in Dar es Salaam, the Sales Period 2 Award Ceremony brought together government representatives, development partners, and private sector stakeholders to recognize the project’s growing momentum in its second year and reflect on its potential to strengthen the dairy sector. The event featured a range of perspectives, from donors to Project Manager Land O’Lakes Venture37 to the Minister of Livestock and Fisheries – culminating in the announcement of prizes.

The event began with welcoming remarks from Land O’Lakes Venture37 Team Vice President John Ellenberger.

“The project is engaging with a wide variety of stakeholders, including the Government of Tanzania, to ensure the availability of inputs and enhanced service delivery,” he said. “This strong collaboration has led to the achievements we see today. Congratulations to the competitors for their innovation and resilience.”

Then Honorable Mashimba Mashauri Ndaki, Minister of Livestock and Fisheries of Tanzania, spoke as the Guest of Honor, recognizing the significance of the prize competition to shape Tanzania’s market growth and benefit its farmers.

“The government has recognized the AgResults Tanzania Dairy Productivity Challenge Project’s contributions to the implementation of the Tanzania Livestock Master Plan,” said the Minister. “This gives us confidence that through public-private partnerships, we can solve many challenges facing the livestock sector in Tanzania.”

Rodrigo Ortiz from the AgResults Secretariat then spoke about how the Tanzania project fits into the broader goals and approach of the initiative, namely using monetary incentives to drive private sector innovation that benefits the entire value chain.

“This second year built on the experimentation and innovation of Sales Period 1,” said Mr. Ortiz. “We are very pleased with the competitors’ achievements as they continued to invest time and resources to develop new methods of reaching farmers and packaging critical inputs with important accompanying technical assistance.”

Following this, Project Manager Lead Neema Mrema provided an overview of the project and its results, remarking on the competitors’ efforts during the sales period.

“AgResults has organized this event to recognize each and every competitor’s efforts and to present them with their prizes, which required a great deal of innovation, learning, and adaptation along the way,” said Ms. Mrema. “You have set a very admirable benchmark for future competitors of this project.”

Christopher Duguid, First Secretary for Development – Economic Growth, from Global Affairs Canada spoke next, reflecting on the benefits of testing Pay-for-Results prize competitions as a development approach to drive market systems development and strengthen relationships among value chain actors.

“As we mark the halfway point of the competition, we can already see its potential to increase access among vulnerable populations and improve the lives of smallholder dairy farmers,” said Mr. Duguid, representing not only Global Affairs Canada but also the broader donor community. “The donor community is very excited to see what the competition achieves in the next two years.”

After these speeches, it was time to present the prizes, during which four competitors out of the six participants were recognized for their sales of input bundles to smallholder farmers from June 2021 – February 2022. The ten winners — Agricare Enterprises, ATOZ Universal Ltd, Damian Agrovet, IDD Agrovet, Kile Agrovet, Kilosa Veterinary Centre, MiL Animal Nutrition Innovation Centre Ltd, Oiso Agrovet, Twins Agrovet and General Supplies, and Vetfarm — engaged 8,041 smallholder farmers and delivered 37,391 input bundles, winning a total of $348,293.

Ms. Mrema reflected on the significance of the award ceremony and efforts to date by participating businesses.

“It is important to showcase the commitment that these competitors have demonstrated over the last nine months in ensuring smallholder farmers are well-served with access to high quality dairy inputs and, just as importantly, advisory services,” she said.

The Tanzania Dairy Productivity Challenge Project is part of AgResults, a $152 million collaborative initiative between the governments of Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States, the Bill & 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. Under AgResults’ Pay-for-Results model, these competitions encourage actors to achieve predetermined results thresholds and quality for monetary prizes.

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Published: March 08, 2022

How Can We #BreaktheBias by Promoting Gender Inclusion in Food Security?

March 8, 2022

By Katie Hauser

Katie Hauser is a Private Enterprise Officer at the USAID Bureau for Resilience and Food Security and currently sits on the AgResults Steering Committee.

Women comprise 43% of the global agricultural labor force, playing critical roles in agri-food systems as farmers, service providers, and entrepreneurs.1 Focused efforts to empower women could dramatically benefit entire communities. For example, if women had the same access to land and other productive resources as men, they could increase farm yields by 20-30 percent.2 Such activities could drastically increase productivity and reduce poverty: Closing the gender gap in Tanzania agricultural productivity could lead to 2.1% increase in that agricultural productivity and would lift more than 80,000 people there out of poverty annually over ten years.3

Yet for all this potential, gender gaps in access to resources and opportunities across food systems persist. As much as we need policy change, overcoming these disparities demands that we break down biases that linger in our views, behaviors, and practices. This year, International Women’s Day (March 8) asks us to imagine a world that is free of stereotypes and discrimination. By working collectively, we can #BreaktheBias and create a gender-equal world.

AgResults: Encouraging Higher Inclusion of Women in Tanzania’s Dairy Sector

It can be tough to know what this looks like in practice, but the new U.S. government’s Global Food Security Strategy (GFSS), which guides the Feed the Future initiative, provides a starting point. Covering Feed the Future’s plans for 2022-2026, this document elevates equity and inclusion as key to addressing the biggest global challenges. The GFSS highlights several approaches to integrating gender considerations into programming. I’d like to focus on one in particular: Increasing opportunities for women to access, adopt, and benefit from innovative technologies.

AgResults, a $152 million initiative that includes USAID on its donor committee, uses Pay-for-Results prize competitions to incentivize the private sector to invest in high-impact innovations that will benefit smallholder farmers. The AgResults Tanzania Dairy Productivity Challenge Project provides one possible solution to #BreaktheBias. The competition uses monetary prizes to incentivize private sector actors to sell input bundles accompanied by advisory services to smallholder dairy farmers to increase their adoption of productivity-enhancing inputs. As a prize competition, the project is deliberately solution-agnostic – in other words, it doesn’t require that competitors solve the problem in a specific way.

This means that AgResults does not mandate that competitors do certain things to address gender resource gaps. Instead, the project incorporates nudges, explaining the benefits of working with women along the dairy value chain as smallholder farmers, veterinary professionals, or extension agents. To join the competition, firms submit a gender outreach and action plan. The project’s orientation included gender sensitization training for participating companies. These actions are teaching input businesses the roles that women can and should play to build trust and drive change. With this awareness, they recognize the benefits of women being able to access, adopt, and benefit from innovative technologies that increase dairy productivity. Such efforts may also create more gender-inclusive environments like the GFSS pushes for – and breaking down stereotypes along the way.

Taking a Step to #BreaktheBias

This year, International Women’s Day does more than remind us about the importance of gender equity; it demands that we #BreaktheBias and push for a gender-equal world. I am optimistic that plans like the GFSS and innovative approaches like AgResults can point us in the right direction.

  1. CERES 2030. 2020. Ending Hunger Sustainably: The Role of Gender
  2. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. (2011). The State of Food Insecurity in the World – Women in agriculture: Closing the gender gap for development. Rome, Italy. http://www.fao.org/docrep/013/i2050e/i2050e.pdf
  3. UN Women. 2021. The gender gap in agricultural productivity in sub-Saharan Africa: Causes, costs and solutions. Policy Brief No.11. UN Women: New York

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