The majority of the world's poor are small farmers. International donors, governments of developing countries, and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) have spent hundreds of millions of dollars helping increase the income of these farmers. Unfortunately, most of these projects have failed, either partially or fully. A lot of money has been spent, but the increases in income have been modest. There is a great need for more effective methods for increasing poor-farmer income.
Also, many projects that seek to increase poor-farmer income do not measure their results in terms of increases in farmer income. In addition, few projects measure cost-effectiveness, and there is no common yardstick for measuring cost-effectiveness. Finally, there is no sharing of information on project results or cost-effectiveness. Donors, policy makers, and project implementers lack the information they need to focus their funding and effort on what works and avoid what doesn't work.
We envision a day in which project implementers use common methods for measuring results and cost-effectiveness, there is public reporting of results, results are compared, and donors fund the projects and methods that have the best chance of increasing poor-farmer income. The current performance of rural development projects – increases in poor-farmer income versus money spent – is low. We envision a day in which this performance is at least medium and, thereafter, high.