A taxonomy of failure modes of agricultural technology ventures in developing countries: part 2

  • Jerrel Gilliam The Pennsylvania State University
  • Khanjan Mehta Lehigh University
Keywords: agricultural technologies, failure modes, food value chains, humanitarian technologies, social ventures


Agricultural technologies strengthen and streamline Food Value Chains (FVCs) while improving the lives and livelihoods of smallholder farmers and entrepreneurs. Technologies such as greenhouses, solar food dryers, threshers, grinders, and storage and packaging equipment can help increase the efficiency and sustainability of food value chain activities in emerging economies. However, there are a myriad of technological, infrastructural, and operational challenges that hinder the successful design and sustainable commercialisation or deployment of such products. After over a decade of research, experience, and consultation in the field, we present here an initial taxonomy of potential failure modes during the design, implementation, and maturity phases of agricultural technologies ventures. We argue that consideration of these failure modes early in the design process will assist agricultural technology designers and entrepreneurs in avoiding pitfalls later in the venture lifecycle. Part 2 (of 2) in this article series presents the implementation and maturity-phase failure modes. Together with Part 1 (taxonomy development and design phase pitfalls), this taxonomy aims to inform innovators and entrepreneurs seeking to launch successful and sustainable agricultural technology ventures in the developing world.


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