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)
March 8, 2020
By Jared Klassen
Jared Klassen is a Program Officer for Agriculture and Food Systems Programs at Global Affairs Canada and currently sits on the AgResults Steering Committee.
As I grabbed a banana at lunch today, a small sticker reminded me that this fruit had travelled over 3500 km to get here. I couldn’t help but wonder which farmers had been involved in this banana’s journey from farm to supermarket shelf. Globally, about 80 percent of the food we eat comes from smallholder family farmers. Of those farmers, 40-50 percent are women, who make key contributions as business leaders, entrepreneurs, market sellers, horticulturalists, and farm workers.
Yet many of these women face barriers their male counterparts do not. Women represent only 15 percent of land owners in sub-Saharan Africa, where customary law and social norms limit their ability to own or inherit land. Despite their significant role in agriculture, women access only 5 percent of farm training services and receive less than 10 percent of farm loans to grow their businesses.
At AgResults, we’ve seen how Pay-for-Results prize competitions can help food systems become more inclusive, providing opportunities for smallholder farmers to increase their incomes and improve the well-being of their families. International Women’s Day is as good a day as any to ask how prize competitions can be intentional about supporting women’s leadership and making food systems more equitable.
In addition to the inherent value in supporting women’s equality, there is strong evidence to show that making food systems more equitable would profoundly benefit communities around the world.
Equal access to productive resources could increase yields on women-run farms by 20-30%, and end hunger for 150 million people globally. In Tanzania, women with strong land rights earn up to 3.8 times more income. According to a McKinsey Global Institute report, gender equality could boost African economies by 10 percent of their collective GDP by 2025.
This year’s International Women’s Day theme, Each for Equal, reminds us that equality is not only a women’s issue. Each of us can help create a gender-equal world, “challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate women's achievements.” We can challenge our economies and food systems to be more equitable as well.
To make food systems more equitable, we must ask key questions early on when designing prize competitions: What are the barriers that women face in agriculture and food systems? Where are women already showing leadership in their communities? Are there particular crops, on-farm responsibilities, or sales practices where women lead? And how can a prize “nudge” other businesses to create more opportunities for women to lead and be appreciated for their contributions to food systems?
By asking these questions early on, rather than simply counting how many women were involved by the end of the project, we can be much more intentional in addressing inequalities to create lasting change.
One example of a successful effort to address inequality in food systems is Canada’s continued support for Ethiopia’s Agricultural Growth Program, now in its second phase. This large-scale initiative includes help for smallholder farmers to grow more nutritious foods for their families and increase their incomes.
Canada has been intentional about supporting women in Ethiopia working in agriculture. For example, a new market center has helped women farmers and farm groups who previously had to sell the vegetables they grew at cheap prices, or even throw them away during dry and rainy seasons when the vegetables would easily spoil. The new market center has enabled these women to better preserve the vegetables they grow and collectively market the produce to larger buyers. Women now play a leadership role in nearly all steps of the vegetables’ journey to market, including production, local transportation, packing, and wholesaling to large buyers. This initiative has dramatically expanded their market and income.
Similarly, we can and should structure prize competitions to encourage businesses to empower women to take leading roles in different stages of agricultural production and marketing. When strategically designed, prizes can help businesses appreciate the importance of women as customers, managers, and shapers of economies and food systems.
This year’s International Women’s Day gives us a chance to reflect on what equality could look like in our communities. Whether we encourage positive change in our workplaces, challenge businesses and influential organizations to embrace gender equality, or make day-to-day choices that celebrate women’s achievements, each of us can play a role in creating a more equitable world....
March 8, 2020
By Neema Mrema
Neema Mrema is the Project Manager Lead for the AgResults Tanzania Dairy Productivity Challenge Project.
As we celebrate International Women’s Day, we must engage both men and women to jointly make decisions and commit to making the world a better place to live. This year’s theme, ‘Each for Equal,’ shows us that it is every person’s responsibility to work toward equality without discrimination by enhancing opportunities for growth.
This is especially true in development programming, where opportunities for men and women may vary dramatically due to different needs and constraints. I serve as Project Manager for the AgResults Tanzania Dairy Productivity Challenge Project, which engages dairy input suppliers in the country’s coastal areas to provide high-quality input bundles to smallholder dairy farmers so they can improve productivity and raise incomes. Gender norms currently constrain women’s ability to make decisions and take control of high-value activities in the dairy value chain, but AgResults’ unique approach using Pay-for-Results prize competitions has the potential to reduce these barriers while encouraging participation among both men and women.
To ensure that the Tanzania competition promotes inclusivity, AgResults engaged a Farmer-to-Farmer gender specialist to identify current gender constraints in the dairy smallholder farm and input supply subsectors. From the findings, the specialist provided specific recommendations on how input suppliers can conduct outreach to better reach women and involve them in the competition. These input businesses are uniquely positioned as catalysts to transform women’s role in the dairy sector by building a more inclusive environment for women to access advisory services while also providing technical assistance support to educate smallholder dairy farmers.
The gender analysis indicated that in urban and peri-urban areas of Tanzania, dairy businesses are family-owned, while in rural settings, men own the business. But there is a stark division of labor: Women are overwhelmingly the ones involved in livestock management — from daily feeding and milking to hygiene and early detection of diseases and conception. In contrast, only men are involved during collection of milks sales proceeds, negotiation on input purchase in case of credit schemes, seminars and training, and negotiation of milk price. If input suppliers increase women’s access to high-quality inputs and advisory services, women can more easily participate in higher-value work and gain a louder voice in the process.
When veterinary and other advisory services are located nearer to the farm, women are more likely to be involved in procuring inputs. Bringing these services closer to women can increase the likelihood of input businesses engaging them. Businesses should also consider women’s workloads, schedules, and domestic duties when planning how to deliver trainings. In this way, input businesses can more equitably facilitate women’s participation alongside men to buy inputs, receive advisory support, sell milk products, and make production decisions.
The gender analysis also revealed potential hurdles to the competition’s promotion of quality inputs: Use of inputs may increase women’s on-farm workload, at least in the short-term as they begin to incorporate new practices into their approach. If a higher use of inputs translates to more work, women may not see the incentive to engage since the workload could outweigh any extra income generated. Therefore, it is critical for the project to find ways to still motivate women and persuade them to recognize the value of continued input use.
As catalysts for change, input suppliers can see this as an opportunity to instill a holistic ‘business mindset’ to dairy farmers – both men and women – so that they approach farming as a formal business. Improving knowledge of feeding practices, management practices, and good animal husbandry (care, vitamins, vaccines, water, and importance of a clean shed) will improve profitability while providing key technical support.
With its design, the AgResults Tanzania project has the potential to promote behaviors that will empower women, and we will continue to gather important lessons about gender equality as the project progresses. The IWD theme ‘Each for Equal’ reminds us that to ensure equal participation and sustainable engagement of women in Tanzania and elsewhere, we must first build an environment that enables women to access equal benefits. It is the responsibility of everyone, including myself, to take part to collectively achieve equality.
The AgResults Tanzania Dairy Productivity Challenge Project, managed by Land O’Lakes Venture37, 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. AgResults 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....
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 email@example.com. 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....