There’s no point in using a t1 gas cloud harvester on a barge when you can use a t1 scoop on a venture.
Max venture gets 0.889 m3/s per scoop.
A freaking max hulk gets 0.989 m3/s per harvester.
The t2 harvester is more respectable, pulling in 2.47 m3/s on a hulk vs a venture’s 1.33 m3/s.
T1 harvester needs its yield increased. You should not need an exhumer to beat a venture with t1 equipment. In my opinion a t1 covetor should beat a t2 venture, but I would settle for t1 venture < t1 covetor < t2 venture < t2 covetor as well.
I always looked at ship selection as picking the best tool for the job, and barges definitely have their uses. So, to me, the solution is simple -pick a venture when it makes sense to use a venture, and pick a barge when it make sense to use a barge.
The prospect needs a buff as well its a t2 venture but its actually weaker, it mines the exact same as a venture, but it has no drones so if you are mining in the same low sec as a venture it just puts its drones on you and you cant fight back.
And you can’t kill the drones either so in a low sec gas site war the venture win’s.
It also has more warp core strength so more survivability against preditors.
And the endurance harvests less gas than the venture so you cant use that either.
Like @Shipwreck_Jones just pointed out most ships in eve aren’t just supposed to be direct upgrades. He covered larger hulls vs smaller hulls but it’s similar with t2.
A t2 ship isn’t supposed to be better than a t1. T2 are supposed to be more specialized. For example the prospect is built around covert mining complete with being able to take covert bridges and the endurance is specialized for mining ice in frigate only wormholes.