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The Africa Biosciences Challenge Fund 2016 – Call for Applications

Background

The Biosciences eastern and central Africa - International Livestock Research Institute (BecA-ILRI) Hub, located in Nairobi, Kenya, is a shared agricultural research and biosciences platform that exists to increase access for African researchers to affordable, world-class research facilities.  The mission of the BecA-ILRI Hub is “Mobilizing Bioscience for Africa’s Development” by providing a Centre of Excellence in agricultural biosciences, which enables research, capacity building and product incubation, conducted by scientists in Africa and for Africa, and empowers African institutions to harness innovations for regional impact. This mission is achieved by the BecA–ILRI Hub’s contributions to:

  • Research: enabling research to harness the potential of the biosciences to contribute to increasing agricultural productivity and to improving food and nutritional safety and security.
  • Education: contributing to the education and training of the next generation of African agricultural research leaders and scientists.
  • Innovation: promoting the development, delivery and adoption of new technologies to address key agricultural productivity constraints.

The BecA-ILRI Hub capacity building program is branded The Africa Biosciences Challenge Fund (ABCF). The ABCF program operates in the critically important intersection between agricultural research for development (ARD), food security, and individual and institutional capacity building. The ABCF program is delivered through: i) a visiting scientist program (the ABCF fellowship) targeting scientists from African national agricultural research organizations and universities to undertake biosciences research-for-development projects at the BecA-ILRI Hub; ii) annual training workshops to support the acquisition of practical skills in molecular biology, genomics, bioinformatics, laboratory management, laboratory safety, equipment maintenance and scientific writing; iii) mobilizing national and regional capacities for joint action; and iv) supporting and strengthening the capacity of National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS) to deliver on their research for development agenda.

Purpose

The purpose of the ABCF fellowship program is to develop capacity for agricultural biosciences research in Africa, to support research for development projects that ultimately contribute towards increasing food and nutritional security and/or food safety in Africa, and to facilitate access to the BecA-ILRI Hub facilities by African researchers (and their partners).  We seek applicants with innovative ideas for short to medium term research projects (up to 12 months) aligned with national, regional or continental agricultural development priorities that can be undertaken at the BecA-ILRI Hub.

Areas of research

Applicants must be scientists affiliated (through employment) with an African National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) or university, and conducting research in the areas of food and nutritional security or food safety in Africa. Those carrying out research in the following areas are particularly encouraged to apply;

Improved control of priority livestock and fish diseases including: African Swine Fever (ASF); Contagious Bovine Pleuropneumonia (CBPP) and Contagious Caprine Pleuropneumonia (CCPP); Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR); Rift Valley Fever (RVF); East Coast Fever (ECF); Capripox Virus diseases of ruminants;

Harnessing genetic diversity for conservation, resistance to disease and improving productivity of crops and livestock and fish (livestock focus: African indigenous breeds, particularly  goats, chickens, alternative small livestock species);Molecular breeding for important food security crops in Africa;

  • Plant transformation to address food insecurity in Africa;
  • Plant-microbe interactions;
  • Tissue culture and virus indexing for production of virus-free planting materials in Africa;
  • Orphan/underutilized species of crops and livestock
  • Crop pests, pathogens and weed management research, including biological control;
  • Microbial technology for improving adaptation of staple food crops and forages to biotic and abiotic stresses;
  • Food safety, including addressing aflatoxin and other mycotoxins contamination in food and feeds;
  • Nutritional analysis of food and animal feeds;
  • Rapid diagnostics for crop, livestock and fish diseases;
  • Genomics, bioinformatics and  metagenomics including microbial discovery;
  • Studies on climate-smart forage grasses and mixed livestock-crop systems;
  • Microbial technology for improving adaptation of staple food crops and forages to biotic and abiotic stresses;
  • Soil health in agricultural systems.

This list is not exhaustive and applicants working on other relevant topics are welcome to submit their suggestions.  Special opportunities also exist to connect with leading international scientists linked with the BecA-ILRI Hub in the following areas: wheat rusts, insect pests, and nitrogen fixation.  Other special opportunities exist to connect with CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs): including but not limited to Livestock & Fish, Agriculture for Nutrition & Health, Humid tropics etc.  Such collaboration would allow the applicant’s research to contribute more directly to an impact-oriented research-for-development agenda, and offer additional opportunities for joint activities.

Eligibility/applicant requirements

  • National (passport holder) of a BecA-ILRI Hub target country for this call: Burundi, Central African Republic, Congo Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Gabon, Madagascar, São Tomé and Príncipe, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan. In exceptional cases we may consider applicants from other African countries. The applicant MUST be a researcher employed at a NARI or university.

Please note that applicants from BURKINA FASO, CAMEROON, ETHIOPIA, GHANA, KENYA, RWANDA, SENEGAL, TANZANIA and UGANDA are NOT eligible to apply to this call. A separate strategy has been developed to support these countries through nominations, to build on the on-going engagements between national research organizations and universities in these countries and the BecA-ILRI Hub. The nomination will also aim at filling priority national research gaps jointly identified through on-going engagements. HOWEVER, research scientists from the nine countries may apply to this call only if;

(i) They have own funding to fully support their research and all other costs while at the BecA-ILRI Hub, or

(ii) They are able to secure a significant portion (at least 50%) of their total research budget and other necessary costs while at the BecA-ILRI Hub. In this case they would be seeking partial funding through application for an ABCF fellowship.

  • Currently engaged in research in food and nutritional security or food safety in Africa, or in a research area with relevance to agriculture in Africa.
  •  Good working knowledge of written and spoken English.
  •  Completed online application form.
  • A signed letter of endorsement of the application from the head of the applicant’s home institute/organization/university faculty.

We particularly welcome applications from women and less resourced NARIs and universities.

What the fellowship covers

The BecA-ILRI Hub has secured funding to sponsor several fellowships on a highly competitive basis. The fellowship will cover the following costs[1];

  • Research costs at the BecA-ILRI Hub;
  • Travel;
  • Medical insurance;
  • Accommodation;
  • A modest subsistence allowance.

Key timelines

  • For any inquiries / clarifications related to this call, please send an email to: w.ekaya(at)cgiar.org Responses to inquiries/clarifications will close on December 20th 2015 mid-night (Nairobi time).
  • Closing date for applications: December 31st 2015.
  • Notification to early applicants will start from January 22nd  2016. The notification process will be completed by February 22nd  2016 (indicative dates depending on volume of applications).
  • Implementation of projects: projected start date is late March 2016. 

Application form

To apply for a fellowship, click on the online application link below:

Link to application form:  http://hpc.ilri.cgiar.org/beca/training/ABCF_2016/index.html 

Decision on applications

Details of successful applicants will be posted on the BecA-ILRI Hub Website on a continuous basis until completion of the review process.

Note: Successful applicants will be expected to secure leave from their workstation to fully focus on their research fellowship at BecA-ILRI Hub during the fellowship contract period.

Our Sponsors

The ABCF Research Fellowship program is supported by the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture (SFSA), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), the UK Department for International Development, the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida), and the Australian Government through a partnership between Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) and the BecA-ILRI Hub. 

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[1] Please note that BecA-ILRI Hub-funded fellowships do not cover the cost of fieldwork or research at the applicant’s home institute. Applicants who can fund their  proposed research at BecA-ILRI Hub (either fully or partially) will have  added advantage.

 

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