Full citation 579

Ton, G., et al. (2015). "Innovation grants to smallholder farmers: Revisiting the key assumptions in the impact pathways." Food Policy 51: 9-23.

Format: Peer-reviewed article

Type: Research — Non-experimental

Experience level of reader: Fundamental

Annotation: Innovation is a cooperative process that influences changes in social, economic, intuitional, and technological realms. The form of support influences the process of adopting or creating new technologies. This paper examined impact studies of farming innovation programs and compares them by funding model: vouchers, matching grants, and farmer-driven innovation support. Innovation grants have a capacity to foster innovation and creative problem solving through cooperation in the AT community. Measuring impact and other outcomes objectively with a universal system could facilitate evidence-based benchmarking and improve usefulness and credibility of impact studies.

Setting(s) to which the reported activities/findings are relevant: Government, Community, University, Large business, Small business (less than 500 employees).

Knowledge user(s) to whom the piece of literature may be relevant: Manufacturers, Researchers.

Knowledge user level addressed by the literature: Basic

This article uses the Commercial Devices and Services version of the NtK Model

Primary findings


  • Grant systems often target previous recipients or socially connected recipients whose activities may be influenced by previous relationships or expectations.
    Case study findings
    Occurrences within model: NtK Step 3.2, 4.1
  • There is a way to abuse matching fund grants. Applicants can collude with business partners who furnish the matching funds in order to get the contract and be guaranteed the money. This subverts competition and creates animosity, especially in scarce markets.
    Case study findings
    Occurrences within model: NtK Step 3.4
  • Impact studies often rely on outcomes generated during the grant reporting period although the actual benefits cannot fully manifest in that short a time.
    Case study findings
    Occurrences within model: NtK Steps 1.4, 9.3


  • Grants stimulate farmers to experiment with new practices, engage in research, and utilize business development services. Otherwise they may be reluctant to adopt change.  
    Case study findings
    Occurrences within model: NtK Step 2.2, 3.5
  • Vouchers can specify activities that foster institutional cooperation like knowledge development/sharing or business development. This stimulates growth in the supporting organizations, which benefits both the users and service providers.
    Case study findings
    Occurrences within model: NtK Step 2.2, 4.1


  • Social capital refers to business partnerships and open dialogues. These relationships naturally facilitate collaboration and knowledge transfer.
    Case study findings
    Occurrences within model: NTK Tip 3.9, Step 4.1
  • Not all impact studies are equally credible; addressing selection bias on the part of the grant beneficiary adds reliability to outcome studies.
    Case study findings
    Occurrences within model: NtK Step 6.6
  • Competitive “business plan” styled matching fund grants help would-be producers to overcome hurdles to entering the market.
    Case study findings
    Occurrences within model: NtK Step 4.3, 6.2; NtK Tip 2.2