How we Achieve
What Success Looks Like
The effects of some agricultural innovations take a study to measure, but many can be seen passing at highway speed or even in a history book. Here are some examples:
A test variety of barley susceptible to lodging, caused by a combination of wind and rain, with better-adapted varieties on either side. American farmers can visit trials like this one in Washington state in 2016, view data from them online, or discuss them with extension agents to help decide which varieties to grow. Breeding wheat, rice, and other grains that have high yields but do not fall over under their own weight in wind and rain has been critical to food security and economic development worldwide.
Yuan Longping, the father of higher-yielding hybrid rice, in a rice paddy. Professor Yuan is a household name in China and most rice planted in the country is now hybrid, in spite of the difficulty of hybridizing rice relative to many other crops.
Children eating orange-fleshed sweet potatoes in Mozambique, where vitamin A deficiency is common. Unlike those in the US, traditional African sweet potatoes are white. An international collaborative has adapted orange-fleshed sweet potatoes from the New World to African conditions. Orange-fleshed sweet potatoes are sweeter than those traditionally grown in Africa as well as being higher in vitamin A, and can meet daily vitamin A requirements in quantities normally consumed. Hundreds of thousands of farmers in Africa and South Asia are currently planting them, with projections of as many as 15 million by 2020.
Golden kiwis, a new specialty crop. Golden kiwis are nutritionally comparable to green kiwis, but can fetch higher prices for farmers.
Farmer Grace Malaitcha from Malawi standing in her conservation tillage maize plot. Conservation tillage is a set of practices that controls weeds and keep soil aerated with only partial or no tillage prior to planting. Note in the photo that the stubble from the previous crop remains on the surface, controlling erosion and contributing organic matter to the soil. Since adopting conservation tillage, Ms. Malaitcha has avoided the back-breaking task of hoeing the field every season as well as protecting the environment.
Research on late blight in potato, the disease that caused the Irish Potato Famine. The potato genotype in the foreground is resistant to the strain of blight being tested against; those in the background are not.
Rinderpest outbreak affecting cattle in South Africa in 1896. Thanks to a vaccine, rinderpest has probably been eradicated worldwide, with the last confirmed case in 2001.
The organization has access to world-class expertise in evaluating international development and agricultural programs, and also welcomes inquiries from junior scholars interested in collaboration. The founder of Grow Further is an economist with a PhD in Agricultural and Resource Economics from UC Berkeley, and projects are planned from the ground up such that they can be rigorously evaluated.
There are different methods of measuring educational programs for members and projects with benefits for the environment, but the primary measurable outcome of our work is benefits to farmers and consumers in relation to research costs.
In the long-run, we haven’t succeeded in this regard unless farmers and low-income consumers are better off than had we simply given them the money instead of spending it on a research program.
We also plan to track a number of other outcomes, from the mundane (e.g., do researchers think that our grants are more trouble than they’re worth) to the systemic change (e.g., did the research we supported later win an award like the World Food Prize).