Innovating for food security and smallholder livelihoods

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In the face of climate change, land and water scarcity, declining growth in crop yields, and dwindling public budgets, donors will need to be more innovative in how they deliver aid for agriculture. The world’s population is expected to grow by 3 billion people in the coming four decades, and 1 billion are already food insecure. Feeding them all will require every tool available. One such tool is pull mechanisms, which can help overcome the underinvestment in agriculture in developing countries by increasing the demand and compensation for new technologies. Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have committed $100 million for AgResults, an initiative that will use pull mechanisms to engage the private sector and encourage the development and dissemination of agricultural technologies aimed at improving food security and smallholder productivity. It’s a start. The first pilots under AgResults are conservative measures. Donor’s should be more ambitious in the future. With pull mechanisms, donors are looking for partners willing to take on some risk; they need to be willing to risk failure as well, as long as they learn from it.