The purpose of the Africa Biosciences Challenge Fund (ABCF) fellowship is to develop capacity for agricultural biosciences research in Africa, to support research for development projects that 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. The fellowships are offered to applicants with innovative ideas for short to medium term research projects (up to 12 months) aligned with national, regional or continental agricultural development priorities and CGIAR research for development strategies.


Areas of research

Applicants must be scientists affiliated through employment with an African national agricultural research system (NARS) institution and conducting research in any or a combination of the following areas;

  • Improved control of priority livestock and fish diseases including but not limited to: 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; Foot and Mouth Disease;
  • 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;
  • Soil health in agricultural systems.

This list is not exhaustive and applications on other relevant topics are welcome. Special opportunities also exist to connect with leading international scientists linked with the BecA-ILRI Hub in the following areas: wheat rust, insect pests and nitrogen fixation. Other special opportunities exist to connect with CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs). Such collaboration would allow the applicant’s research to contribute more directly to an impact-oriented R4D agenda, and offer additional opportunities for joint activities.

Eligibility/applicant requirements

  • The primary focus of the ABCF fellowship lies within the 18 BecA mandate countries, which are Burundi, Cameroon, Central Africa Republic, Congo Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of the Congo,Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, Madagascar,Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan,Tanzania, Uganda. In exceptional cases, applicants from other African countries are considered;The above countries fall under different strategic categorization/intervention stages, therefore each ABCF call for applications will give further eligibility details;
  • The applicant MUST be a researcher employed in African NARS,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;
  • A signed letter of endorsement of the application or letter of nomination from the head of the applicant’s home institute/organization;

What the ABCF fellowship covers

The full ABCF fellowship will normally cover the following costs;

  • *Research costs at the BecA-ILRI Hub;
  • Travel from home country to BecA-ILRI Hub and back.
  • Medical insurance;
  • Accommodation;
  • A modest subsistence allowance.

*The ABCF fellowship does not cover fieldwork or research in the applicant’s home country.

What the research fellows get while at the BecA-ILRI Hub

  • High-end research facilities and research environment of international standard;
  • Working amidst world class, international, multi-cultural researchers from across the globe;
  • Bench support by research associates and high-level scientific support from senior experienced research scientists;
  • Skill and knowledge enhancement courses, including BecA-ILRI Hub’s annual training workshops;
  • Connection to relevant experts and opportunities world-wide
  • Training modules on diverse aspects relevant to Research forDevelopment e.g. presentation skills, project impact pathways, proposal writing for resource mobilization;
  • Leadership and management, communicating scientific findings to non-science audience;
  • Extra-curricular activities such as sports competitions;
  • A tailor-made certificate of fellowship completion specifying the placement period and research topic.


Applications for 2017/2018 are now open

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