November 17, 2021
When food and water systems are more resilient, vulnerable populations can better access the technologies and practices they need to improve food security and bolster their well-being. But how can public and private sector stakeholders jointly stimulate this rural and agricultural development? Over four days, the Cracking the Nut Conference is exploring these complex topics, bringing a diverse set of attendees together to engage virtually on best practices and innovations. AgResults contributed its perspective on leveraging private sector investments through a breakout session on November 16.
AgResults’ breakout session on Day 2 was titled “Incentivizing Climate-Smart Rice and Resilience in Vietnam.” Led by Project Manager Lead Dr. Tran Thu Ha of SNV/Vietnam and AgResults’ Justin Kosoris, the session explored how AgResults’ Pay-for-Results prize competition 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, competing businesses were able to adjust their business models and investment strategies to raise awareness of climate-smart agriculture practices.
“We’ve seen the Pay-for-Results model really generate excitement among private sector competitors when there hasn’t been a strong development process,” said Mr. Kosoris. “In industries where there is already strong donor money, sometimes it’s hard to ‘wean’ companies off that funding to turn to Pay-for-Results approaches instead. In many cases, it takes some education, and we try to make our prize payments iterative to give competitors some capital to reinvest.”
Following an introduction to prize competitions and to the AgResults initiative, the presenters dove into the Vietnam project, first explaining the problem of emissions driven by paddy rice farming and then illustrating how the competition succeeded in reducing input costs, water resource use, and emissions while also increasing rice yields and profits for farmers (see final report for more details).
Dr. Tran and Mr. Kosoris then outlined the key lessons learned across the competition’s four years. In the latter portion of the session, the presenters guided participants through an interactive discussion of scaling through Pay-for-Results, setting appropriate targets, and approaching verification processes.
“This was the first time that the Pay-for-Results model was applied in Vietnam – and maybe the entire region,” said Dr. Tran. “But once we talked companies through the tangible and intangible benefits of participating in the project, to get verification of their technologies, to increase visibility and branding, they were encouraged to apply.”
“Even though it was the first time, the PfR pull mechanism functioned as planned and project stakeholders observed that it worked extremely well as a model to incentivize scaling,” Dr. Tran added. “It was seen as a promising new model for private sector engagement that could be replicated elsewhere.”
Through the AgResults and other sessions, Cracking the Nut has successfully engaged a diverse set of stakeholders to discuss how to make food, water, and energy systems more resilient and accessible for rural populations. By focusing on digital solutions, private sector investments, and inclusion, the conference has kept the momentum going from priority events such as the UN Food Systems Summit and COP26 to chart the best course for the future of agricultural development.