What is AgResults?

AgResults is a $152 million initiative that uses Pay-for-Results prize competitions to incentivize the private sector to invest in high-impact agricultural innovations that help achieve the following goals:

Reducing Food Insecurity

Improving Household Nutrition and Health

Increasing Livestock Productivity

AgResults’ theory of change rests on the idea that, if appropriately incentivized, the private sector will respond by creating and/ or scaling new technologies to benefit smallholder farmers:

  1. Identify or source new technology
  2. Incentivize the private sector to overcome market barriers
  3. Achieve wide-scale adoption and scaling
  4. Create sustainable markets

How AgResults Works

AgResults designs and implements Pay-for-Results (PfR) prize competitions to attempt to “pull” the private sector to overcome deep-rooted market failures in agricultural systems. Specifically, AgResults uses PfR incentives to engage private sector competitors like agribusinesses and vaccine manufacturers to develop innovative solutions that address an otherwise unprofitable market challenge. In this way, AgResults harnesses the power of the market to promote the adoption of innovative technologies with high-yield development impact.

The objectives of AgResults are to:

  1. Overcome agricultural market failures by offering results-based monetary prizes to competing private actors for the development and/or scaling up of new agricultural technologies; and to
  2. Test the effectiveness and efficiency of PfR financing in comparison with traditional approaches to the promotion and adoption of innovative agricultural technologies.

If used appropriately, PfR prizes or “pull” mechanisms have several advantages over traditional “push” funding:

Heightened awareness on global problems. Prizes can educate, inspire, and even mobilize the public, focusing attention on otherwise minimized issues.

Results-based funding. Prizes are paid only if and after the pre-defined results are achieved, meaning that a failure does not mean full loss of that funding.

Process-agnostic. Funders of the initiative do not need to predict which actions will yield the desired result, as prizes are awarded based solely on the achievement of and not the processes or steps to obtain results.

Sourcing and Designing Prize Competitions

AgResults has developed an iterative process to source and design new projects that leverage the Pay-for-Results prize competition model. The AgResults Prize Design Toolkit (February 2021) provides in-depth guidance for development donors or practitioners interested in creating their own prize competition. 

The design steps are also outlined in the graphic and description below.

Diagram of the design steps involved in the process


  1. Identify potential project concepts through a literature review and discussions with experts.
  2. Review those potential project concepts through a rigorous feasibility framework (see graphic at right) that assesses a number of factors that could be “red flags.” Concepts that pass this review may receive a “White Light” approval, meriting further exploration.

Pre-Feasibility Study and Field Validation

  1. Review literature and conduct field-based study to understand barriers to scaling up, potential competitors, and their motives.
  2. Sketch potential pull mechanism solutions.
  3. Validate concepts through analysis and external specialists and formal reviewers.
  4. Prepare preliminary design proposal for “Yellow Light” approval.

Business Plan and Expert Validation

  1. Collate feedback from the Steering Committee and experts.
  2. Draft full project business plan.
  3. Validate through iterative process with independent experts, Steering Committee, External Evaluator.
  4. Finalize plan and submit for “Green Light” approval.

Launch and Implementation

  1. Obtain needed in-country approvals.
  2. Identify and engage local stakeholders.
  3. Launch the project.
Table of feasibility framework concepts

Learning and Evaluation

One of the strategic objectives of AgResults is to understand whether PfR prize incentives can “pull” the private sector to address critical market failures in agricultural development. To achieve this learning objective, AgResults gathers evidence and packages the resulting observations and conclusions into articles, reports, presentations, and blog posts. Two sources contribute to this ongoing learning and evaluation – AgResults design/implementation stakeholders and its independent evaluators.