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Evaluating Prize Competitions Around the World


  • AgResults is a multi-donor initiative to test pay-for-results prize competitions.
  • Abt evaluators assess pay-for-results’ potential as a development tool.
  • We have generated evidence about competitions’ impact on markets and smallholder farmers.
The Challenge

The AgResults initiative was created by five donors after the 2010 G20 summit. The donors recognized that their resources alone could not significantly reduce poverty in the world’s poorest countries. They created AgResults to test whether pay-for-results challenge projects could provide an incentive for private sector engagement in developing and deploying high-impact technologies beneficial to smallholder farmers. External impact evaluation was woven into the initiative to provide a strong evidence base to understand whether and under what circumstances the pay-for-results approach was effective.

The Approach

Abt evaluators begin by developing an evaluation design protocol, setting forth the most rigorous design feasible in the context of the particular AgResults challenge project. Next, the baseline report assesses the situation among the private sector competitors and smallholder farmers at the beginning of the competition. At the end of the project some years later, the final report assesses the changes that have taken place during the competition and suggests lessons learned. All reports are peer reviewed by outside experts.

The Results

All evaluation design protocols, baseline reports, and final reports are posted on both the evaluation page of the AgResults website and in the site’s learning library.  

The Nigeria Aflasafe project, for example, created a niche market for supplying Alfasafe-treated maize. Market penetration was less than expected, but smallholder farmer adoption increased by 56 percentage points in AgResults villages. Smallholder farmers increased maize income by 16 percent. And consumption of Aflasafe-treated maize increased by 13 percent.

The Kenya On-Farm Storage project created an emerging market for on-farm storage devices. Adoption rose 23 percentage points in the Eastern Region and six percentage points in Rift Valley. Increases in smallholder farmers’ net revenue were not statistically significant, but farmers reduced the use of pesticide dust, an important process improvement.

Learn More:  

  1. Final Evaluation: Vietnam Emissions Reduction Challenge Project (Final Report)
  2. Lessons Learnt: Vietnam Emissions Reduction Challenge Project (Evaluation Findings)
  3. Nigeria Alfasafe Challenge Project (Evaluation Brief)
  4. Incorporating a Gender Lens into Challenge Project Design (Eval Lessons Learned)
  5. Vietnam Emissions Reduction Challenge Project (Evaluation Design)
  6. Pull Mechanisms for Overcoming Market Failures in the Agriculture Sector (Knowledge Note)
  7. Kenya On-Farm Storage Challenge Project (Evaluation Brief)
  8. Zambia Biofortified Maize Challenge Project (Close-Out Assessment)
  9. Presentation: Evidence from AgResults External Evaluation (DFID Chief Economist Series Seminar)