The AgResults Kenya On-Farm Storage Challenge Project was a four-year, US$12 million program that used a Pay-for-Results prize competition to motivate private sector competitors to develop, market, and sell on-farm storage (OFS) devices to smallholder farmers in the country’s Rift Valley and Eastern Regions. Competing storage solution companies could become eligible for prizes by reaching an established sales threshold to promote purchases of improved devices among smallholder farmers. In this way, the project would reduce post-harvest loss and boost farmer incomes. The project ran from 2014 to 2018, with final prizes awarded in October 2018. Tanager International served as the Project Manager.
Eastern Africa grows nearly 20% of the grain produced in sub-Saharan Africa, yet the region suffers from post-harvest grain losses that cost about US$1.6 billion per year (13.5% of the total value of grain production). Because many smallholder farmers are not aware of the benefits and do not access on-farm storage (OFS), they are often forced to sell their crops right after harvest. This reduces their income and requires them to purchase maize later in the season. In the cases where they do decide to store maize, they must recur to expensive pesticides during storage. The peak supply periods around harvest drives down the market price, reducing potential income. If farmers opt to use traditional methods to store their crops, especially in Kenya, they still run into trouble: The grains often fall victim to larger grain borers and other pests.
Kenya’s Pay-for-Results incentive aimed to spark product innovation and motivate private sector actors to expand distribution networks and develop tailored marketing to encourage smallholder farmers to use OFS devices such as hermetically sealed plastic bags, plastic tanks, and metal silos. The Theory of Change asserted that as farmers became more familiar with OFS technology, they would be more likely to invest in it to store more grain and reduce post-harvest loss – in turn boosting household incomes and food security.
The project aimed to improve smallholder food security by raising awareness about the role of OFS in reducing post-harvest losses and expanding access to more effective storage devices. Adoption of improved devices was expected to reduce grain loss and make more grain available for consumption. It would also reduce smallholder households’ pesticide exposure since most of the storage technologies do not require pesticide dusting. Finally, because OFS technology enables smallholder farmers to safely store grain for longer periods, they could sell their grain at higher prices and increase their revenue.
AgResults expected to achieve the following by the end of the project:
# of Competitors
Prizes Awarded (USD)
Competitor Investment (est.)
This table illustrates how our learning has evolved in Kenya from project design through implementation. Further details can be found in the Learning Library.
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In Kenya, the Evaluator has used an interrupted time series impact evaluation design to assess the project’s impact on smallholder farmers. This approach tracks the key outcomes over time before, during, and after the project. To assess how the project has impacted the market for storage solutions, the Evaluator primarily employs qualitative research guided by the structure conduct and performance paradigm.
The Evaluator carried out the first phase of the baseline in 2014, with reference to the 2013 harvest. The second phase of the baseline was in 2015, with reference to the 2014 harvest. Endline data collection finished in September 2018. The final evaluation is complete and awaiting approval before public dissemination.
Andrew Gathecha is a Team Lead on the AgResults Kenya On-Farm Storage Challenge Project and has more than 15 years of experience in agriculture, health, education, and media sectors. He holds an MBA from Heriot-Watt University and a Bachelor’s degree in business and economics from Kenyatta University. He is a certified public accountant as well as a member of the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya. Mr. Gathecha is pursuing his doctorate in business administration from the University of Newcastle.
Caroline Kipkorir has more than eight years of experience with statistics and surveys. As Tanager’s Technical Officer for the AgResults Kenya On-Farm Storage Challenge Project, she works with diverse stakeholders to achieve project objectives. Ms. Kipkorir recently oversaw a successful rural household survey of 5,647 respondents to assess uptake of hermetic technologies by smallholder farmers. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in statistics from—and is a Master’s in applied statistics finalist at—Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology.