Our Unique Approach

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

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

In Progress
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Vietnam Emissions Reduction Challenge Project

In Progress

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

AgResults by the Numbers

100

Competitors

354145

Smallholder Farmers Reached

$5.06m

Private Investment Leveraged (approx)

$9.92m

Prize Funds Awarded (approx)

News and Blog

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Published: January 24, 2020

New AgResults Project Encourages FMD Vaccine Development and Uptake in Eastern Africa

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.”

GALVmed CEO Dr. Carolin Schumacher highlights the pressing need for high-quality FMD vaccines in Eastern Africa. (Photo Credit: EuFMD)

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.”

It is critical to develop a high-quality FMD vaccine tailored to the needs of Eastern Africa. (Photo Credit: GALVmed)

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.

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Published: January 06, 2020

Request for Application for Competitors for the AgResults Tanzania Dairy Productivity Challenge Project

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.

AgResults Tanzania Dairy Productivity Challenge Project Competitor Request for Applications

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Published: January 06, 2020

Why Prize Competitions Are a Viable Model for Scaling Climate-Smart Technologies

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.

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Published: November 22, 2019

AgResults Prize Competition to Spur Dairy Productivity Launches in Tanzania

November 22, 2019

On November 21, the AgResults Tanzania Dairy Productivity Challenge Project held its official launch event to kick-off the prize competition that aims to increase dairy productivity among smallholder farmers. The event, which brought together stakeholders from across the public and private sectors, was an opportunity to reflect on the project’s potential to transform Tanzania’s dairy sector.

Held at the Sea Cliff Hotel in Dar es Salaam, the launch event featured speeches from the Permanent Secretary of Livestock, Professor Elisante Ole Gabriel, among other public and private sector dairy representatives. In her comments, Mercy Karanja from the Gates Foundation acknowledged the international development sector's dedication to this key topic. As part of the event, attendees – including potential competitors across the dairy value chain – asked questions to learn more about the parameters of the competition, which will begin in January 2020 and continue through April 2024.

“I feel greatly honored to grace the launch of this Pay-for-Results prize competition, which is the first of its kind in Tanzania,” said Professor Elisante Ole Gabriel, Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries. “The innovative AgResults Pay-for-Results prize competition addresses Tanzania farmers’ limited access to high-quality inputs, and the Ministry is committed to supporting it to ensure its success.”

Permanent Secretary of Livestock, Professor Elisante Ole Gabriel officially launches the Tanzania Dairy Productivity Challenge Project.

Managed by Land O’Lakes Venture37, the project will use a competition structure to encourage companies to provide farmers with input bundles that will boost productivity and strengthen the dairy value chain. Tanzania’s dairy sector has historically struggled: 97% of cattle are low-yield breeds, poor management practices are prevalent, and there are seasonal fluctuations in the availability of forage and feed. As a result, many smallholder farmers struggle to access affordable private extension services and the high-quality inputs they need.

The project is designed to incentivize private sector competitors to package and deliver input bundles comprising a combination of parasite controls, high quality feed and/or fodder, vaccines, and/or artificial insemination inputs to smallholder dairy farmers. By encouraging businesses to provide both input bundles and advisory services, the project will address a variety of gaps in Tanzania’s dairy value chain.

As farmers gain access to quality inputs and receive regular training, their knowledge of livestock management will improve as will their use of vaccines and health inputs, in turn boosting the nutrition of cows. Healthier and more productive cows will improve the quality of the milk, positioning smallholder farmers to participate more fully in formal markets. Accessing these markets will drive up smallholder farmers’ incomes and cement their relationships with key value chain actors.

Over four years, the project aims to achieve approximately 23 million liters of additional milk production, translating in part to $9.4 million in additional farmer revenue and $4.14 million in competitor revenue. These may be ambitious goals, but the dynamic conversations from the launch event reflect the collective dedication and enthusiasm that position the competition well for success.

“We are very excited to be here today and be a part of this innovative approach to strengthen dairy productivity in Tanzania,” said Rodrigo Ortiz, lead consultant for AgResults. “This prize competition has the potential to transform the country’s dairy sector, specifically for its smallholder farmers.”

The event brought together public and private stakeholders from across Tanzania's dairy sector.

For more information, including details about the prize structure, visit the AgResults Tanzania Dairy Productivity Challenge project page. Please note that this page will continue to be updated through January 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. 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: October 30, 2019

Can a Prize Competition Ensure Lasting Uptake of Rice Technology Practices that Reduce GHG Emissions in Vietnam?

October 30, 2019

By Tulika Narayan and Judy Geyer, 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.

The problem. Agriculture accounts for 23 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in Vietnam, of which rice cultivation contributes 54 percent. The warm, waterlogged soil of rice paddies provides ideal conditions for methanogenesis — or release of methane into the atmosphere. Recognizing this, the government of Vietnam has been working towards the goal of reducing GHG emissions from rice cultivation. However, progress has been slow because rice production practices that reduce emissions are often too complex or not profitable enough for farmers to adopt.

The AgResults solution. The AgResults Vietnam Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Challenge Project in Thai Binh Province aims to (1) improve technologies that reduce GHG emissions from rice (while maintaining or improving yield) and (2) promote farmers’ adoption of those technologies. AgResults’ five donors – USAID, DFID, Global Affairs Canada, DFAT, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – are using this and other Challenge Projects to test whether Pay-for-Results (PfR) incentives can help solve various challenging agricultural problems affecting smallholder farmers around the world. As the External Evaluator, Abt Associates conducts independent evaluations to gauge the short- and long-term results of AgResults’ prize competitions.

The Vietnam project offers prizes to “competitors” (private companies such as seed companies, fertilizer suppliers, and rice traders). To win a prize, a competitor must both develop an improved technology package that reduces GHG while improving yields and succeed in getting farmers to adopt that package to scale. Prior to its Vietnam low emissions rice project, Abt evaluation of completed AgResults projects have demonstrated that PfR can be successful, particularly when farmers directly benefit from a new product or technology, independent of prize incentives.

Results from Phase 1. In the project’s first phase, which ended in 2018, 11 private sector entities competed to develop packages of low emissions rice production technologies. Of those, six competitors won prizes for developing technologies that demonstrably reduced emissions and increased yields. Four competitors who won prizes in Phase 1 decided to compete in Phase 2, which is currently underway. Phase 2 prizes will be awarded to competitors based on the number of smallholder rice farmers who adopt the technology packages, the total reduction in GHG emissions, and the increase in rice yields.

Abt’s evaluation of Phase 1 noted that the technologies used in Phase 1 — short duration variety rice, alternate wetting and drying (AWD), slow release fertilizer, reduced use of fertilizer, increased spacing of plants, and crop residue management — are not completely new. Instead, they combine existing approaches to reduce GHG emissions in new packages. All four technology packages that advanced to Phase 2 share common features with some variations. These technology packages are also largely similar in their GHG reduction and yield increasing potential. This suggests that technologies are themselves not distinct enough to explain differences in farmer adoption rates. Rather, any adoption differences stem from the strategies that competitors use to incentivize farmers, the long-term value they demonstrate to farmers in adopting the package, and the cost of resources they invest in the effort.

Will the results sustain? Abt’s interim findings suggest that competitors are giving substantial subsidies for seeds and fertilizers to motivate farmers to adopt the technology packages. This investment makes sense because the competitors have a chance to win large prizes – $500,000 at the end of each of the four crop cycles for a potential total of $2,000,000 to be shared among four competitors, provided they reach GHG emission reduction targets. In addition, the four companies have a fair chance of winning one of the end-of-project grand prizes of $750,000, $400,000 and $200,000 for the top three competitors. In addition to these subsidies for farmers who implement the technologies, some competitors have also promised to pay back a share of these prizes to the cooperative leaders and farmers. Almost all have hired cooperative leaders and village leaders to ensure that the farmers adopt the technologies.

Although competitors’ use of subsidies, conditional payments, and contract work for farming leaders bodes well for achieving strong results by the end of the project, use of the technology packages cannot be sustained after the incentives end unless the competitors and/or farmers realize clear benefits of adoption. Before Phase 2 began, Abt conjectured that farmers and competitors could benefit from adopting these technologies if they obtained premium prices by tapping into existing high-value or specialty markets, which require production systems consistent with the technologies promoted by AgResults. Interviews with competitors suggest that they are targeting safe rice markets and export markets to access premiums.

However, the one component of the technology package that has the largest influence on reducing GHG emissions – AWD – is not linked to a premium market. Therefore, even if farmers continue to adopt some components of the technology packages, it is unclear if GHG-reducing components of the technology packages will continue to be adopted after the competition ends. This was always a difficult challenge for AgResults to tackle since GHG reducing component of the technology package is a pure public good. Unless it is monetized, there would not be an incentive for farmers to adopt it.

Recognizing this, the AgResults project incentivized yield-reduction potential of the technology packages – competitors earn more prizes if their technologies increase yield. Cooperative leaders and key stakeholders suggest that for farmers to deviate from long-practiced traditions, they would need to experience yield increases of 30 percent. However, so far, the expected yield increase from the AgResults technology packages appears to be less than this threshold. It is not clear whether a modest yield increase would justify the additional input, labor, and water management costs required to implement technology packages after the subsidies end.

Abt’s external evaluation will rigorously establish the extent to which rice farmers targeted by AgResults increased their rice yields and reduced GHG emissions. Since higher yield do not mean higher income, it will also evaluate the extent to which farmers increased net returns from growing rice after accounting for all the input and labor costs. However, this analysis will be based on farmer costs after accounting for the subsidies and incentives they receive from the competitors. To assess whether the technologies are profitable after the incentives end, and whether they continue to adopt the technologies, a sustainability analysis one year after the project ends is needed.

Sustainability analysis is important. With 7,970 farmers applying technology packages on 869 hectares in Thai Binh, Phase 2 of the Vietnam project has thus far achieved stronger results compared to other development programs. But there is a lot of room for further growth: The project has two more growing seasons to expand within Thai Binh, which has a total of 80,000 hectares under rice cultivation Abt’s interim findings suggest that for these practices to continue beyond the life of the project when the incentives end, significant changes to the underlying market for low-GHG rice would have to occur over the next two growing seasons. It is also conceivable that the government of Vietnam promotes these technologies as part of their extension services, although their promotion of AWD thus far has not led to large-scale adoption. Investment in verification protocols needed to access carbon markets for payments to reduce GHG emissions would be a far more effective strategy. It remains to be seen if AgResults is successful in creating a lasting impact in tackling a difficult development challenge – only a sustainability analysis can answer this question.

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Published: October 17, 2019

From the Climate-Smart Agriculture Conference: The Value and Impact of Prize Competitions

October 17, 2019

At last week’s 5th Global Science Conference on Climate-Smart Agriculture, representatives from AgResults illustrated the value of leveraging private sector financing and innovation to transform food systems. A workshop side-event on prize competition design and a presentation on work in Vietnam to reduce greenhouse gas emissions urged conference attendees to reflect on how both public and private sector actors are crucial to addressing the agricultural challenges that accompany climate change.

On October 9, a team of AgResults experts led a session titled “Using Prize Competitions to Scale Climate-Smart Food System Innovations: A Design Workshop”, which brought together private sector and government representatives to discuss the value and role of prize competitions, particularly to address challenges related to climate change. The workshop was led by Dr. Tristan Armstrong, Agriculture Sector Specialist, Australia Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and AgResults Steering Committee member; Nikita Eriksen-Hamel, Deputy Director, Global Affairs Canada (GAC); Dr. Tran Thu Ha, Team Leader of Vietnam Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Challenge Project, SNV Vietnam; and Justin Kosoris, AgResults.

During the session, attendees learned about the AgResults model and began discussing how, when, and where prizes can leverage private sector innovation in agriculture. Although there was not enough time to complete the planned hands-on design portion of the workshop, the lively conversations reflected growing interest in and momentum around Pay-for-Results approaches in development.

“Pay-for-Results offers an exciting alternative to traditional approaches, leveraging the imagination and resources of an emergent private sector,” said Dr. Tristan Armstrong. “The side event highlighted the potential for Pay-for-Results in the field of climate-smart agriculture, and showcased AgResults’ innovative approach to agricultural development.”

In addition, Dr. Tran Thu Ha of Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV) Vietnam presented on approaches and results from the AgResults Vietnam Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Challenge Project on October 8. The presentation shared how private sector-led climate-smart innovations are transforming rice production in Thai Binh Province.

“The Vietnam Emissions Reduction Project has demonstrated innovative finance that mobilized both investment and innovation from private sector for scaling and addressing market failures,” said Ms. Tran Thu Ha. “Our presentation captured keen interest from a diverse range of participants, including local government, research institutions, financial institutions, and donor agencies.”

The Global CSA Conference ran from October 8-10 and brought together entrepreneurs, scientists, and policymakers to discuss how best to catalyze the public-private partnerships needed for food systems transformation. Introducing AgResults and its prize competition model to attendees was a great way to build on the growing momentum around private sector engagement and provide an example of the value and impact of these competitions to achieve lasting change.

Funded by USAID (US), DFID (UK), DFAT (Australia), Global Affairs 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.

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