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Diversifying revenue in rural Africa through bio-based solutions


Proposals shall screen existing bio-based technologies that can be adapted and successfully transferred to rural African contexts. The focus should be on simple, robust technologies that can be operated and maintained locally, and suitable for operation at farm, village or rural community level (including mobile systems). A variety of end-products can be considered[[Examples include fertilisers or soil improvers, feed, energy or fuels, soap, building or packaging materials, etc.]], and the business models developed should be sustainable and highly circular. Although bio-fuels or bio-energy can be part of the end-products, projects focussing mainly on these outputs are not eligible.

The selected technologies shall be integrated into one existing agri-food system[[Agro-food system shall be understood here as a characteristic combination of farming activities and (possibly) first-level transformation or conditioning of the farming outputs.]] without compromising food production, and without fundamentally changing established agricultural practices, provided that these are sustainable. The integrated value chain should be widely replicable, based on agricultural by-products or dedicated crops that can be incorporated through multi-cropping or intercropping practices, including agro-forestry. It shall be tested and adapted in real productive conditions, in an appropriate number of testing sites. A thorough assessment shall be performed on the agronomic, environmental, social and economic sustainability of the whole model, including gender issues and an assessment of potential risks. The project shall deliver practice guides and policy recommendations for deployment in new areas.

Projects should ensure solid collaboration between farmers, farmers associations, local industry, technology providers, research centres, extension services and policy makers. Development partners and relevant international organisations should be involved as appropriate. Proposals should include a task to cluster with other relevant projects involved in the EU-Africa R&I Partnership on FNSSA and with the cooperation platform established under SFS-33-2018[[The awarded project acronym is LEAP4FNSSA]]. Activities should also be foreseen to cluster with the other projects financed under this topic.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of up to EUR 9 million would allow this specific scope to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude the submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

In many African regions, agriculture is predominantly subsistence-oriented, hence most farmers lack the means to invest on improving the productivity of their exploitation activities, or to undertake basic transformation of their produce. Low productivity and lack of economic diversification makes farmers vulnerable to food insecurity, and contribute to a continuous migration towards urban areas, especially among the younger generations.

In many locations, unsustainable practices generate serious impacts on the environment, such as deforestation for energy or for new agricultural land, or soil degradation, which further aggravate the vulnerability of rural populations.

Proposed activities will deliver new and sustainable bio-based value chains that can be plugged into African agri-food systems. This will help rural communities to:

  • Increase and diversify agricultural income and foster savings and investment.
  • Enhance sustainability and reduce the environmental impact of domestic and economic activities, through e.g. reduced logging or nutrient recycling.
  • Develop new economic activities and sectors, thus creating new jobs and opportunities.

In the longer term results will contribute improving livelihoods, enhancing food security, increasing community resilience, and reducing rural migration.

Projects should also contribute increasing the innovation capacities of participating organisations, and reinforcing the scientific collaboration between the EU and Africa.