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

October 17, 2019

rice growing in the field

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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