Impact Assessment

Effectiveness of innovation grants to smallholder agricultural producers. An explorative systematic review, by Giel Ton et.al.,2013

    Description
    Grants for agricultural innovation are common but grant funds specifically targeted
    to smallholder farmers remain relatively rare. Nevertheless, they are receiving
    increasing recognition as a promising venue for agricultural innovation. They
    stimulate smallholders to experiment with improved practices, to become proactive
    and to engage with research and extension providers. The systematic review
    covered three modalities of disbursing these grants to smallholder farmers and
    their organisations: vouchers, competitive grants and farmer-led innovation
    support funds. The synthesis covers, among others, innovation grant systems in
    Malawi (Agricultural Input Subsidy Programme), Latin America (several Challenge
    Funds for Farmer Groups), Uganda (National Agricultural Advisory Services ), and
    Colombia (Local Agricultural Research Committees - CIAL).

    The systematic review aims to synthesize the available literature in order to
    elaborate under what conditions innovation funds tend to be effective in
    facilitating innovation and benefiting the poor and women in developing countries.

    Methods for info gathering
    The review team used a systematic search in electronic data-bases to capture
    studies from different disciplines and geographical areas.
    - The relevant electronic search results (186 out of 4,322 hits) were
    complemented by hand-searching additional references through
    snowballing and reviewing project web-sites. This resulted in a total of
    227 studies.
    - Most of these studies were excluded in a later stage because they did
    not contain any information on the way in which the grant was disbursed
    and/or the role of the farmers in governing the innovation grant system.
    - Finally, the synthesis was based on 20 impact studies and makes
    reference to another 42 largely qualitative studies. These additional
    studies provide information about the functioning and effectiveness of
    the innovation grant system but do not contain a structured assessment
    of impact.

    Summary of results
    Voucher Schemes
    Hypothesis A1: The quantity and quality of inputs and services provided to
    smallholder famers are enhanced as a result of the voucher system and can be
    sustained in the future.

    Hypothesis A2: Farmers’ livelihoods, and in particular those of the poor and
    women, start to change as a result of the improved agricultural practices enabled
    by these inputs and services.

    Conclusion: moderate support in studies.

    Business Development Grant Systems
    Hypothesis B1: Competitive grants trigger value-adding business activities by
    (groups of) farmers as a way to facilitate innovation processes with smallholder
    farmers in markets.

    Conclusion: strong supporting evidence in studies.

    Hypothesis B2: Farmers’ livelihoods improve as a result of social activities and
    economic returns derived from the new value-adding business activities.

    Conclusion: weak supporting evidence in studies.

    Farmer-led Agricultural Innovation Support Funds
    Hypothesis C1: Grants to facilitate farmer-driven experimentation and learning
    open up neglected research areas in agricultural production and enhance the
    applicability of research results.

    Conclusion: moderate supporting evidence in studies.

    Hypothesis C2: Participation of local farmer organisations in decision-making
    about research funds is effective in (re-)directing the research to critical
    constraints in on-farm agricultural innovation, and particularly to the needs of
    the poor and women.

    Conclusion: strong supporting evidence in studies.

    Hypothesis C3: Participation of higher-level farmer organisations in decision
    making about research grant funds is effective in scaling-up and scaling-out on-farm agricultural innovation processes.

    Conclusion: weak supporting evidence in studies.

    Overarching question related to Innovation Grants to Smallholders
    Overarching hypothesis O1: Innovation grant systems that combine the grants to
    smallholders with enabling and brokering access to additional services to address imperfections in the innovation system are more effective in achieving improved livelihoods than the systems that work only on financing farm–level innovations (e.g. knowledge, technologies).

    Conclusion: strong supporting evidence in studies.

    Overarching hypothesis O2: Grant systems that combine different modalities of
    grant allocations (e.g. combining demand-driven research funds with service
    voucher schemes) are more effective in achieving outcomes at scale than single
    modality grant systems solely directed at farm households.

    Conclusion: moderate supporting evidence in studies.