Abt Associates is evaluating an innovative program to involve the private sector in creating market-based solutions for smallholder farmers.
Approximately 870 million people were chronically undernourished in 2012, partly because agricultural markets in many developing countries are underdeveloped or non-existent, which limits private investment and slows technological innovation.
AgResults is a $118 million multilateral initiative addressing this gap through the use of “pull mechanisms” – results-based incentives for private companies to develop and expand agricultural innovations that promote food security and benefit smallholder farmers. AgResults is funded by Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Abt Associates –as an external evaluator for the initiative–is assessing the effectiveness of seven AgResults pilot projects as well as the initiative as a whole.
Abt staff interview small farmers in Nigeria. Abt Associates is an evaluation partner for AgResults, which is offering incentives to private firms to develop agricultural innovations that promote food security and benefit smallholder farmers. “It’s an experimental approach, with an important learning agenda,” said Stephen Bell, Abt senior fellow and one of the team leaders for the study. “We are evaluating AgResults using mixed-methods research techniques to better test theories of how agricultural markets in developing countries change in response to pull mechanisms.”
Abt is evaluating pilot projects in six countries: Kenya, Nigeria, Zambia, Uganda, Vietnam, and India, as well as a pilot to develop a vaccine for brucellosis, a contagious disease affecting livestock. The pilots are designed to:
- Encourage famers to eliminate naturally-occurring toxins from maize grown in Nigeria;
- Expand modern on-farm grain storage technologies in Kenya;
- Make broader cultivation of bio-fortified maize possible in Zambia;
- Increase the production and sale of improved legume seeds in Uganda;
- Decrease greenhouse gas emissions from rice production in Vietnam;
- Increase vaccination against Newcastle disease in backyard poultry in India; and
- Develop a better vaccine to reduce brucellosis in small ruminants.
During the baseline study for the Kenyan On-Farm Storage Solutions pilot project, a smallholder farmer shows researchers how she stores grain. “Each of these pilots requires a different evaluation design within a common theoretical framework,” said Tulika Narayan, the team’s research director. “We are carrying out a randomized control trial in Nigeria, whereas in Kenya we’re using interrupted time series. As part of our commitment to high professional standards, once our client approves the evaluation design, we post it on the Registry for International Development Impact Evaluations. We then conduct data collection and analysis, synthesize findings, and will suggest lessons learned.”
Abt has a long history and extensive expertise in a range of impact evaluation, both internationally and in the U.S. This includes randomized control trials and more recently rapid cycle evaluation. The AgResults evaluation team includes staff from across Abt, plus outside experts.
“Abt Associates will draw on its global experience providing rigorous, high-quality analysis of evidence to provide actionable insights that can improve food security for people around the world,” said Stephen Pelliccia, division vice president for International Economic Growth at Abt.
Visit the AgResults web site.