The AgResults Zambia Biofortified Maize Challenge Project was intended as a five-year, US$7 million Pay-for-Results prize competition to increase the awareness around and consumption of biofortified, pro-Vitamin A (PVA) maize. The incentive consisted of two parts: 1) prizes to incentivize seed companies to produce and sell PVA maize seed to farmers, and 2) prizes to commercial grain millers that purchase PVA maize from farmers and subsequently mill and sell maize meal. In 2018, due to the lack of market response and ongoing enabling environment challenges, AgResults decided to terminate the project. Tanager International served as the Project Manager.
In Africa, more than 500,000 women and children die each year due to Vitamin A deficiency, which causes blindness as well as possible stunting in children. In Zambia, approximately 31% of children and 21% of women are affected by this preventable condition.
The project hypothesized that a PfR prize incentive would encourage commercial milling companies in Zambia to invest in sourcing, production, and marketing of PVA maize. This investment would increase market demand for PVA maize products and increase supply as smallholder farmers adopt PVA maize to sell and to consume at home. The overall improved market for PVA maize would translate to increased Vitamin A consumption, driving down rates of Vitamin A deficiency in Zambia.
The prizes were designed using sales thresholds to incentivize seed companies and commercial millers to increase both supply and demand of PVA maize. The competition provided threshold payments that participating companies could receive if they sold a certain amount of seed or maize meal.
The amount of money a competitor could win was calculated as 1) a base threshold payment based on the total sales threshold reached, and 2) an additional per unit payment for each metric ton of PVA maize seed or meal sold above the applicable thresholds. If participating companies failed to reach the initial sales threshold, they would not receive a prize.
The project aimed to catalyze the development of a sustainable, smallholder-inclusive market for PVA maize in Zambia and raise awareness about the health benefits of PVA maize. Consequently, the project was expected to increase consumption of PVA maize and reduce Vitamin A deficiency among smallholder farmers as well as rural and urban consumers. In addition, if increased demand led to a market premium for PVA maize, smallholder farmers were expected to boost incomes from the sale of PVA maize.
AgResults expects to achieve the following by the end of the project:
The project closed early. However, the closure has led to a wealth of learning on what works and what does not.
# of Competitors
Prize funds awarded (USD)
PVA Maize Seed Sales
Due to contextual factors in Zambia, the Evaluation approach relies more on rigorous qualitative research rather than quantitative impact evaluation and causal attribution. The mixed methods approach involved structured case comparisons of smallholder farming households, use of the Structure, Conduct, Performance analytical framework to analyze the behavior of other value chain actors, and a repeat cross-sectional survey of urban consumers to assess trends in PVA maize consumption over time.
The baseline report, available here, was carried out in mid-2015 prior to competitor participation. The endline was scheduled for late 2018 but is no longer expected as the project was terminated early.
This section shares our learning from the Zambia Biofortified Maize Challenge Project design and implementation. Further details can be found in the Learning Library.
August 18, 2019
In Zambia, approximately 31% of children and 21% of women are affected by Vitamin A deficiency. The Zambia Biofortified Maize Challenge Project (2014-2018) used a Pay-for-Results (PfR) prize structure to incentivize commercial millers to source, produce, and market Pro-Vitamin A (PVA) maize meal and boost consumer demand to increase PVA maize consumption. Although the project closed early due to the lack of market response and ongoing enabling environment challenges, it still resulted in rich learning around what works and does not work when designign and implementing PfR prize competitions.
October 14, 2022
From 2014-2018, the AgResults Zambia Biofortified Maize Challenge Project tried to tackle Vitamin A deficiency by increasing the awareness around and consumption of biofortified, pro-Vitamin A (PVA) maize. This Lessons Learned article explores the post-project PVA maize market in Zambia, looking at changes in PVA maize seed production, public and private sector demand, and broader shifts in consumption patterns.
January 4, 2021
This assessment by External Evaluator Abt Associates, updated in December 2020, found that the AgResults project played a role in creating a niche market for PVA maize, although with limited development impact because the market involved mostly better-off smallholder farmers and urban consumers. Findings suggested that the market would likely be sustained in the short to medium term.
May 11, 2021
This report by External Evaluator Abt Associates summarizes independent evaluation findings from competitions in Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, and Zambia and offers guidance for future prize sponsors. It provides evidence that Pay-for-Results (PfR) competitions can spur development of markets for technologies benefitting smallholder farmers. It also offers guidance on how to determine whether PfR is an appropriate design option and how to maximize farmer benefits.
May 24, 2021
The first in a series of five, this brief provides an overview of concept sourcing, the first phase of AgResults’ Pay-for-Results prize competition design process. It shows how program designers begin the process by brainstorming and assessing potential development challenges to see if a prize competition is best suited to address the identified problem.
June 16, 2021
This brief, the second in a series of five, provides an overview of the second phase of AgResults’ approach to Pay-for-Results prize competition design. It explains how program designers conduct deeper research on relevant market systems to articulate a Theory of Change for the competition and to reasonably estimate the project’s impacts.
June 25, 2021
This brief, the third in a series of five, provides an overview of the third phase of AgResults’ approach to Pay-for-Results prize competition design. It explains how program designers can create the set of parameters and rules that determines who competes, how to win the prize(s), and the implementation timeline.
July 9, 2021
This brief, the fourth in a series of five, provides an overview of the fourth phase of AgResults’ approach to Pay-for-Results prize competition design. It explains how program designers can determine the size of the prize purse to effectively drive participation and innovation without overpaying for results.
July 21, 2021
This brief, the fifth and final in the series, provides an overview of the fifth phase of AgResults’ approach to Pay-for-Results prize competition design. It explains how program designers can develop a thorough verification plan to evaluate competitors’ results and determine prize payments. It also summarizes the activities involved in project management of a prize competition.
January 4, 2021
This brief summarizes the close-out assessment of the Zambia Biofortified Maize Challenge Project. External Evaluator Abt Associates found that the competition helped develop a niche market for Pro-Vitamin A maize, although Vitamin A-deficient populations were a small portion of those who consumed the maize. The brief underscores the importance of directly targeting intended beneficiaries in project design.
October 24, 2017
On Tuesday, October 10, 2017, at the Radisson Blu in Lusaka, the AgResults Initiative awarded its first two…
September 7, 2017
On June 22, the AgResults Zambia Biofortified Maize Pilot Manager hosted over 40 representatives from the private sector,…
April 22, 2019
By Hannah Guedenet and Andrew Gathecha This post was originally published on the Tanager International website. From 2015 to 2018,…
October 17, 2022
Vitamin A deficiency is a significant problem in Zambia: More than half of Zambian children ages 6 months to…
Tanager International – Technical Officer/ Interim Team Lead
Kasashi Ng’ona is a Technical Officer with more than 10 years of experience grain trading and working closely with farmers and millers throughout Zambia. On the AgResults Zambia Biofortified Maize Challenge Project, he managed an innovative effort to use “pull mechanisms” to combat Vitamin A deficiency by increasing the availability of biofortified cereals in commercial markets. Mr. Ng’ona was previously with AFGRI Corporation, and has also worked with entities such as Zambia Red Cross Society, Zdenakie, and ZAMBEEF.