The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation seeks proposals for agricultural research with the potential to increase the sustainable productivity of smallholder farmers in developing countries.
The foundation seeks to fund projects led by MSc and PhD scientists at national agricultural research institutions and universities in sub-Saharan Africa, working in collaboration with other researchers internationally (either within Africa or beyond the continent).
In order to apply, applicants must:
- Be an African scientist residing in sub-Saharan Africa or planning to relocate to sub-Saharan Africa to implement the proposed project, e.g. returning from diaspora;
- Identify a local host institution (a national agricultural research institute or university) (International centers based in Africa or institutes overseas are not eligible to lead proposals in this call, but may partner as sub-grant hosts.);
- Have at minimum an MSc degree;
- Be able to devote at least 70% of their time to the proposed project.
How to Apply
Proposals will be selected for funding in a competitive two-phase process of short pre-proposals followed by invited longer full proposals. Pre-proposals should include:
- A brief description of the proposed research project up to 3 pages in length, written in English or French (only the first three pages of any submitted pre-proposal will be evaluated);
- A basic budget for the proposed research activities, not to exceed $500,000;
- A letter of support from an appropriate senior administration official or supervisor at the primary host institution;
- A letter of interest and support from proposed international partner;
- Applicant’s CV including at least 2 recent publications (within the last 5 years);
Pre-proposals received by the deadline will be evaluated on the following criteria:
- Alignment with the Agricultural Development team’s strategy (please see here: http://www.gatesfoundation.org/What-We-Do/Global-Development/Agricultural-Development);
- Potential for long- term impact to help smallholder farmers;
- Innovation of the proposed idea and complementarity with other initiatives in the same area of research;
- Capability, initiative, and commitment of the lead principal investigator (PI);
- Support and readiness of the identified local institution to host the lead PI and enable successful implementation of the project;
- Project design and implementation plan.
The most promising pre-proposal ideas will be invited to submit full proposals. Full proposals will be accepted by invitation only.
Successful pre-proposal applications will:
- Be led by a scientist based in sub-Saharan Africa at a national agricultural research institution or university;
- Involve a partnership with at least one international research collaborator (research partner can reside in any country other than the applicant’s home country, and may include collaborations within Africa). Applicants in need of an international collaborator are invited to apply for the Agricultural Research Connections Workshops to be held in Nairobi, Kenya, summer 2013. More information can be found here: http://www.regonline.com/2013agriculturalresearchconnectionsworkshop
- Closely align with the goals of the foundation’s Agricultural Development strategy;
- Clearly propose a research project with the potential to substantially increase the sustainable productivity of smallholder farmers in developing countries within the next 5-20 years;
- Have potential applicability to one or more of the following crop and livestock species: maize, wheat, rice, millet, sorghum, cassava, sweet potatoes, yams, beans, cowpeas, chickpeas, groundnuts, banana, chickens, small ruminants (e.g. goats), and cattle;
- Have an estimated budget in the range of $200,000-$500,000 (including salary support, which will be allowed at capped rates to be agreed with host institutions if a full proposal is invited);
- Have a project duration of 4 years or less.
The foundation will not consider funding for:
- Proposals in which the lead PI is not based at a national agricultural research institution or university in sub-Saharan Africa;
- Proposals without an international collaboration;
- Proposals that are not directly relevant to agricultural systems in developing countries;
- Proposals that are not applicable to one or more of the following crop and livestock species: maize, wheat, rice, millet, sorghum, cassava, sweet potatoes, yams, beans, cowpeas, chickpeas, groundnuts, banana, chickens, small ruminants (e.g. goats), and cattle;
- Improvements to current regulated chemicals or the development of new chemical formulations that would be considered regulated chemicals.