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Why do Agricultural Technology Ventures Fail? Towards a Taxonomy of Failure Modes

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, storage, and packaging equipment can make wasteful food systems in developing countries more efficient. However, there are a myriad of technological, infrastructural and operational challenges that hinder the successful design and commercialization of such products. Through a qualitative analysis of academic literature, online journals, interviews with experts in the field, and our experiences over the past decade, we have devised a taxonomy of potential failure modes during the engineering design, implementation and steady-state operation phases of agricultural technology 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.

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