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African European collaborative research on Sustainable Agriculture and Aquaculture and on Food and Nutrition Security
Deadline: Jun 15, 2017  

 Fisheries and Food
 Food Safety
 Sustainable Development

The LEAP-Agri call for preliminary proposals invites consortia composed of at least four research organisations and/or private and public practitioners from four of the partner countries (two African and two European) to submit project proposals for research and innovation in the countries concerned with an added value for the EU-AU partnership on food and nutrition security and sustainable agriculture (FNSSA). The proposal development and execution should be driven by local demand and include an approach that contributes to enhancing impact. Specific requirements for applicants may differ between institutes/countries. Please click on the link below for a document providing full guidelines on how to apply.


1. Introduction

LEAP-Agri is a partnership between partners from 19 European and African countries and the EU aimed at research and innovation for food and nutrition security as well as sustainable agriculture, including aquaculture. The partnership is an ERA-NET co-fund financed by Ministries from these countries with additional finances from the European Commission in support of the EU-Africa High Level Policy Dialogue on Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) and the implementation of the jointly funded EU-Africa Research and Innovation Partnership.

This call for preliminary proposals invites consortia composed of at least four research organisations and/or private and public practitioners from four of the partner countries (two African and two European) to submit project proposals for research and innovation in the countries concerned with an added value for the EU-AU partnership on food and nutrition security and sustainable agriculture (FNSSA). The proposal development and execution should be driven by local demand and include an approach that contributes to enhancing impact. Specific requirements for applicants may differ between institutes/countries.

1.1 Structural objectives

This call includes research on technical and organisational, socio-cultural and/or socio-economic issues. Solutions should contribute to income generation and provide selling arguments to producers, service providers as well as young entrepreneurs.
The research & innovation (R&I) needs to be relevant to African and European priorities for sustainable agri- and aquaculture, food and nutritional security.

Applications should pursue a holistic (system) approach to find integrated solutions that can be implemented in the relevant context and should address the following aspects:

  • Solving of complex economic, ecological and social challenges to improve local nutrition in a sustainable way using comprehensive system-oriented approaches;

  • Expected impact of research and likelihood of uptake contributes to solutions and evidence for policy change, to positive agricultural and nutritional outcomes and to significant improvements in economies, wellbeing and resilience;

  • Scalability of R&I, impact at national or regional scales;

  • Contribution to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

1.2 Policy background

Access to food remains a global challenge, with around 805 million people not having enough to eat (Global hunger index 2014). Nutritional imbalances in Europe and Africa are increasing, characterized by persistent under-nutrition and growing diet-related diseases. It is projected that the global population will increase from 7 billion to more than 9 billion by 2050. A major part of this growth is

expected to take place in Africa. The LEAP-Agri partnership is driven by concerns about how to achieve universal food and nutrition security.

LEAP-Agri operates under the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation Horizon 2020, and its Africa-EU High Level Policy Dialogue on Science, Technology and Innovation (STI), which includes the implementation of the jointly funded Africa-EU R&I Partnership focusing on FNSSA (endorsed by the Africa-EU Summit 2014). The research emanating from LEAP-Agri is expected to contribute to African-European joint interests in food and nutrition security. Improving agricultural markets and trade can benefit farmers and entrepreneurs in both continents.

1.3 Partnership background

The LEAP-Agri partnership builds upon long term collaborations between Africa and Europe. It is exemplified by the support of the ERAfrica and ProIntensAfrica initiatives for this co-fund. The ERAfrica Initiative is an independent consortium of African and European funders building on the success of the former ERA-Net ERAfrica co-funded by African and European research agencies. The ProIntensAfrica project consortium has the experience of collaboration between Africa and Europe in the area of Food and Nutrition for Security and Sustainable Agriculture with the objective to develop a “strategic, long-term research and innovation partnership between Europe and Africa to raise sustainable food and nutrition security”. Additional partners have joined the LEAP-Agri collaboration.

1.4 Countries participating in the call

The call has been developed in partnership between the following countries/organisations:
African countries: Algeria (DGRSTD-MESRS), Burkina Faso (FONRID), Cameroun (MINRESI), Egypt (MHESR), Ghana (STEPRI-CSIR), Kenya (MOEST), Senegal (MESR), South Africa (NRF), Uganda (UNCST);
European countries: Belgium (FWO, FNRS, BELSPO), Finland (AKA), France (ANR, AFD), Germany (BLE, DLR-PT), The Netherlands (NWO, MINEZ), Norway (RCN), Portugal (FCT), Spain (MINECO), Turkey (TUBITAK);
International organisations: CIHEAM-IAMB (based in Italy)

The four partners (institutions) in a consortium have to be located/working in four of the aforementioned countries (two from each continent). In addition to the general framework of this call, national eligibility criteria and funding regulations apply for each organisation or country. Annex 1 provides an overview of participating organisations in 19 African and European countries with contacts for Individual Eligibility Criteria and Funding Regulations and a link to the LEAP-Agri website for more detailed information (see also under Call links).

1.5 Governance of LEAP-Agri

LEAP-Agri consists of 30 consortium partners, 24 of which are funding the call. The project is coordinated by ANR (France) in collaboration with MEST (Kenya). The Group of Funding Partners (GFP), comprising all institutes who provide funding to LEAP-Agri, is the ultimate decision-making body regarding the joint call, including the final decision about the granting of proposals.

An international review panel will assess preliminary and full proposals and provide advice on ranking to the GFP. An operational joint Call Secretariat (CS) has been established in order to align the necessary processes related to the call and assessment procedure. This CS will bring together the partners DLR-PT (Germany), NRF (South Africa), and NWO-WOTRO (The Netherlands).

The General Assembly (GA), comprising all consortium members of LEAP-Agri, will constitute the highest decision-making body and the core structure for oversight. It will be in charge of making strategic decisions, reviewing progress, and approving documents, results and approaches of the joint activities. An overview of all consortium partners is available on the LEAP-Agri website.

All parties involved in evaluation and selection procedure and its administration will be required to sign a non-disclosure agreement and code of conduct form.

1.6 Practical information and deadline

The total finances available for this call for proposals amount to € 27 000 000. Projects can apply for a total budget between € 300 000 and € 1,500 000. The budget for each country or organisation is mentioned in the Individual Eligibility Criteria and Funding Regulations for that particular institute or country. Budgets should be balanced. Project duration is 36 months and a total of about 30 projects is expected to be funded.

This call is for preliminary proposals that must be submitted electronically before the deadline, Thursday, 15 June 2017 | 14:00 CEST. The deadline for full proposals will be in November and submission is upon invitation for selected consortia from the preliminary proposal stage only. Detailed information on project proposal and submission guidelines can be found in the sections below.


2. Aim and the foci 2.1 Background

Despite a slight improvement in recent years, about 800 million people are still starving worldwide, and around 2 billion are suffering from “hidden hunger”, i.e. a vitamin and mineral deficiency, while 1.9 billion are overweighed and 600 million suffer from obesity. At the same time, the world population continues to grow, thus increasing the demand for food. Within the next three decades more than two third of this population growth will take place in Africa. Sub-Saharan Africa’s (SSA) urban/rural ratio will have reached 50% before 2040 and its rural population will continue to grow well after 2050. But despite this trend, a vast proportion of the world’s urban population will be living in African cities and hence farming for cities and urban farming will increase. Changed consumption patterns in emerging economies coupled with an increased global need for sustainable raw materials for non-food products are leading to increased demand and competition in the agricultural sector. In addition, global challenges such as climate change, natural resource degradation, rural exodus, low vocational education, the pressure of the international market and a lack of resources are putting considerable pressure on agri- and aquaculture and the food system to adapt to the changes. These pressures will be higher in Africa, due to the demographic growth and its probable persistence for the next decades, combined with public resources scarcity generating competition between infrastructure, social needs (education and health) and economic development policies.

The potential is enormous: agriculture is the basis of African economies and societies supporting more than half a billion Africans. An estimated 65% to 80% of the population of the respective African countries depend on small-scale farming as the primary source of livelihood. In many African countries agriculture remains the major job provider (62% of labour workforce are family farmers, 22% household informal enterprises, mostly connected to informal food systems). In line with the demographic dynamics in Africa, the role of agri- and aquaculture, food processing and food trade will remain crucial for many African countries and for jobs creation. While most agricultural actors are involved in primary production, a demand for value addition is rising. This point is crucial: the SSA’s incipient economic transition makes it necessary to keep workers in agriculture and food transformation, and to think cropping systems innovations taking into account the SSA’s job equation.

Despite the enormous potential in agriculture, key factors such as diminishing arable land and pastures and deforestation still remain major limiting factors in addressing food security in Africa and Europe. For instance an estimated percentage of 65% of arable land, 30% of grazing land and 20% of forests are already damaged in Africa1. Desertification processes affect 46% of the African continent and 485 million people. Taken together with the high energy costs for fuel and inputs, the degeneration of arable land and water systems and the lack of productivity present real challenges to the food system.


Many African and European countries largely depend on food imports making the population more vulnerable to food price volatility. Increasingly unpredicted climate patterns lead to crop failures and land degradation.

A large proportion of African farm labour is provided by women and youths, who often lack access to land, resources and education. As women are usually in charge of health, feeding, nutrition and education of the family, they are key target group of agricultural and nutrition research in Africa.

To improve the food situation, sustainable food systems must be developed and implemented. African-European research on agri- and aquaculture and food plays a key role in improving food systems and nutrition. For this reason, the LEAP-Agri ERA-NET consortium launches this call for proposals. Its objective is to develop practical solutions in a research process to improve the agricultural sector, the African and European population food and nutrition security and common markets. Applicants are requested to submit proposals for research projects with the potential to provide solutions to improve income generation, nutrition, access to food for disadvantaged populations, to promote sustainable agriculture and sustainable food systems, as well as competitiveness of African agricultural markets. Projects should take into consideration the different niches of agricultural production and trade covering the range of small scale producers, as well as medium and large scale producers, their contribution to local, regional and international markets and the processing of food and grocery marketing, with a focus on rural and urban population food and nutrition security.

2.2 Geographical focus and target groups

Projects should consider European and African topics from the agricultural and aquaculture sector involving for-profit and not-for-profit key partners. Target groups are actors in agricultural production, food-processing and trade.

An inflexion toward farmers’ organisations participation, especially smallholders’ representatives’, should be encouraged. As expressed and advised during the international year of family farming in 2014, research agendas will gain in being co-designed and field research will be more relevant with farmers’ involvement. In addition attention for entrepreneurs, especially from SMEs, is highly recommended.

2.3 Gender and youth

The 2012 report of the OECD showed that investments in gender equality yield the highest returns of all development investments. This means investing in gender equality is not only the preferred mode of action in an ethical sense, but also when it comes to development and economic effectiveness. Proper nutrition deriving from sustainable agricultural and food processing practices is a key factor for preventing marginalisation in less privileged areas and especially among girls/women.

The projects are expected to integrate a gender approach in their research and to pay special attention to gender mainstreaming. This entails recognising the different roles of women and men and acknowledging the complementarity of both, in order to obtain full gender equality.


Agriculture worldwide is increasingly facing a generational problem, with many youths not pursuing agricultural and rural livelihoods. At the same time unemployment rates are high amongst the growing urban populations. In developing countries, over 60% of the population is below the age of 25. In these countries, the youth play an important role in meeting the future challenges on access, availability and use of food in the context of trends of population growth, urbanization, globalization and climate change. Applicants are therefore encouraged to include a plan for engagement with youths in their projects. Overall capacity development through the inclusion of young researchers in the project is expected.


Box 1 Innovation and transdisciplinary research
Innovation is the process of developing new value adding ways to meet existing, new or inarticulate needs. Innovation is accomplished through more effective products, processes, services, technologies, policies or ideas that are readily available to governments, markets and society.
Transdisciplinary research crosses scientific disciplinary boundaries (inter-disciplinary) and integrates scientific and practitioners’ knowledge in joint research.


2.4 Foci

Food and nutrition security is a complex challenge crossing many sectors, disciplines and policy areas as well as being exposed to profound dynamics at national, regional and global level. Food and nutrition security is intrinsically linked to significant challenges our societies face today. Systemic change and transformation is therefore needed. This requires a more holistic and integrated approach based on well-specified targets.

This call seeks proposals for projects developed in partnerships, which play an essential role in bundling expertise, innovation and outreach, focusing on bottlenecks in the agricultural sector and food system. Inter- and/or transdisciplinary research proposals should therefore be submitted by teams of researchers and other (public/private) partners from Europe and Africa.


Box 2 The food system perspective
The food system perspective considers food and nutrition to be the outcomes of interactions between different elements of a system. LEAP-Agri is interested in understanding the drivers (from the global to the local level) that shape the transitions in the food system that are necessary to improve food and nutrition availability, access, utilisation and stability. The policy environment, with its related institutions, at international, regional, national and local level, is a relevant aspect of the food system. In addition, the production and sharing of knowledge and information can influence the system, through skills, science & technology of various sources including farmer/fisher/consumer organisations, or the involvement of media and civil society organisations.


2.4.1 Research & innovation focus 1: Sustainable intensification2
The African food system has the challenge of producing more and nutritious food for growing populations and external international markets while reducing the environmental impact of food production systems and their demands on ecosystem services. Many regions are facing significant structural and organisational transformations in agri- and aquacultural and rural settings entailing far-reaching social changes. The transformation is slower than it was in today’s developed and industrialised countries. Subsistence farmers must efficiently produce food for their families and also conquer the market as commercial farmers to increase income through enhanced land productivity (and pay attention to possible social consequences of labour productivity enhancement).

Indicative areas are suggested for joint research and innovation to improve sustainable food production, to ensure rural population well-being, and to reduce environmental degradation and resource depletion. These are outlines as follows:

  • In line with the Paris COP 21 Climate Agreement and the last Marrakech COP 22 discussions, climate smart agriculture practices, including agroecology and agroforestry, and the role of agriculture in relation to both climate mitigation and adaptation to climate change;

  • Appropriate soil, water, and input management, with a systemic approach, including improved mechanisation, landscape and integrated pest management, precision agriculture and good irrigation practices, with the aim of delivering the greatest benefits at lowest costs and environmental impact;

  • Ecological intensification approaches which optimise the use of ecosystem services and maximize jobs creations to produce food at lowest costs and environmental impact;

  • The identification and breeding of animals and crops to maintain/increase productivity and resilience under conditions of limited external inputs and increased abiotic and biotic stresses;

  • Animal (incl. fish) and crop health, from farm to international scales, to develop sustainable approaches to optimise resource efficiency, minimise production losses and avoid geographical spreading of diseases/pathogens;

  • More efficient biomass utilization, including tree sourced biomass, with a specific attention to relation to food security;

  • Advanced informed marine spatial planning (MSP) and better understanding of functioning of marine ecosystems, and aquaculture technologies and systems that are environmentally and economically sustainable, towards increased production with minimal impact on ecosystem functioning and reduced environmental footprint;

  • Social and economic roles of sustainable agri- and aquaculture intensification for populations and families, in relation to public goods for enhancing population well-being;

  • Models and indicators aiming at measuring simultaneously production, environment and socio economic issues, variables and parameters in order to compare situations and dynamics;

  • Innovative, participative and systemic methods to measure the global impact and performances, all along the food systems frame, of each agriculture intensification pathways (from high inputs conventional agri- and aquaculture and agrifood business to agro and aqua ecological or organic models, from family farming and fishing and small food businesses to industrial and vertical integrated processes), aiming to comparative evaluations to nourish and facilitate policy orientations;

  • Modifying microbiota for improved food/feed utilization and animal well-being.

    2.4.2 Research & innovation focus 2: Agriculture and food systems for nutrition

    While agriculture is the basis for food production and therefore contributes substantially to nutrition, scope exists for research directed at improving agri- and aquaculture and food systems specifically for improved diets and nutritional outcomes. Malnutrition is an increasing challenge in Africa and linked to poor, unilateral diets.

    In order to reduce stunting and child mortality and to contribute to health, several determinants have to be taken into consideration: food availability, adequate nutrition, safe water and sanitation, better education of women3. It is now well known that food and nutrition security does not only rely on food quantities to be produced nor on farmers’/fishers’ income increase. A technical transition is necessary, but alone, without dedicated policies addressing all segments of food systems, will be deficient.

    Dietary inadequacy takes very different forms, but all are linked to social behaviour, as well as to limitations in the production, availability, access, affordability and consumption of highly nutritious foods.
    The challenge for societies is to address malnutrition, which leads either to under-nutrition and hunger, or obesity and non-communicable diseases, as well as to lack of micronutrients and vitamins. Research on improving agriculture and aquaculture for nutrition will therefore place particular emphasis on increasing the availability, accessibility and affordability of micronutrient-rich foods through improving sustainable production systems for nutritious crops, livestock and marine and freshwater fish.

    Research will be funded that contributes to the following objectives:

  • Retain nutritional value, shelf-life and food safety;

  • Reduce seasonality of food insecurity, as well as food and nutrient losses;

  • Improve the diets through diversification.

These objectives are consistent with the “Key recommendations for improving nutrition through agriculture and food systems”4.

Research projects should deal with nutrition-sensitive food production. In particular, the contribution of a diversified agri- and aquaculture to combat malnutrition shall be analysed and appropriate approaches presented. Interdisciplinary research is welcome.


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