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A long term EU-Africa research and innovation partnership on food and nutrition security and sustainable agriculture

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - LEAP-AGRI (A long term EU-Africa research and innovation partnership on food and nutrition security and sustainable agriculture)

Reporting period: 2016-12-01 to 2018-05-31

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 are obese. 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. Agriculture is still the basis of African economies and societies supporting more than half a billion Africans. In line with the demographic dynamics in Africa, the role of agriculture, food processing and food trade will remain crucial for many African countries and for jobs creation. A large proportion of African farm labour is provided by women and youths, who often lack access to land, resources and education. While most agricultural actors are involved in primary production, a demand for value addition is rising, but many African countries largely depend on food imports making the population more vulnerable to food price volatility. 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 ASS’s job equation.
Last but not least, agriculture is both part of the problem and of the solution to climate change mitigation and adaptation, and increasingly unpredicted climate patterns lead to crop failures and land degradation.

To improve the food situation, sustainable food-systems must be developed and implemented. African-European research on agriculture and food plays a key role in improving food-systems and nutrition
The primary objective of LEAP-AGRI is to establish a long term EU-Africa Research and Innovation flagship partnership on food and nutrition security and sustainable agriculture. LEAP-Agri is about building an ambitious initiative, built and brought jointly by a large number of African and European partners, dedicated to Food security and nutrition challenges, with a major change in scale compared to already existing initiatives.
LEAP-Agri is also about bringing accurate and scientifically validated to decision makers in order for them to elaborate appropriate proposition relevant to the still critical food security and nutrition situation faced by hundreds of millions of people in various African countries.
The LEAP-Agri mechanism is based on two complementary approaches:
- The preparation and implementation of a joint call for proposals for collaborative R&I projects between European and African partners;
- Feeding the EU AU partnership on FNSSA, with a focus on identification of innovative instruments, on communication and dissemination of results emerging from LEAP-Agri activities. Contributing to definition of a joint Strategic R&I Agenda in the FNSSA domain, and liaison with relevant public and private stakeholder in Europe and Africa are also key expectation from LEAP-Agri.
The project has started on December 1st 2016, with a Kick Off meeting in Pretoria in December 2016, with Grant Agreement and Consortium Agreement been signed by all 30 partners.
Two General Assemblies and three Group of Funders meetings already took place, in Europe and in Africa, complementary to Work Packages leaders meetings. Administrative, technical and financial activities and reporting were completed as requested.
The Call for Proposal was launched on 15 March 2018, with a two-step procedure. Each proposal has to include at least four teams from two African and two European LEAP-Agri countries. 200 preproposal (involving more than 1000 teams from Europe and Africa) have been submitted, with 195 eligible preproposal, in relation to improved Eligibility Analysis from all 24 Funding Agencies. The independent “International Review Panel” on behalf the Call Secretariat responsibility conducted preproposal evaluation and ranking. The IRP ranked 94 Preproposal as eligible for the Full Proposal, based on H2020 criteria, and the Group of Funders selected 86 Preproposals for the Call for Full proposals step.
84 Full proposal were submitted for the Full Proposal call, with 83 eligible for the Group of Funders. The Group of Funders meets on 20 April 2018 in The Hague and selected for funding 27 Full proposals, based on 24 Funding Agencies commitments and on EC contribution evaluation.
These 27 projects involves more than 160 European and African teams from 20 countries, with an more than 5 teams for Burkina Faso, Ghana, Kenya, Senegal, South Africa and Uganda for Africa, and for Belgium, France, Germany, The Netherlands and Portugal for Europe . Half of these projects relates in priority to sustainable agriculture, a quarter related to Food and Nutrition, and a quarter relates to trade and markets in FNSSA. Projects should start activities on September 2018, with a Kick Off meeting organized in Bari, Italy, mid October 2018.
Monitoring, Evaluation and Impact Assessment modalities have been prepared so that projects follow up start with the beginning of the projects.
LEAP-Agri is then evolving from a “Funders Alliance for FNSSA” towards a “Research and Funders Alliance for FNSSA”.
Additional activities have also be going on with various meetings in Europe and in Africa, in order to precise and implement the “Feeding the FNSSA strategy” part of LEAP-Agri. A regional workshop in West Africa is under preparation.
The LEAP-Agri project is innovative for most African participants and this EU AU partnership is a promising one as both European and African partners shares full responsibilities and duties. Building such a European and African Funders Alliance is a challenge that is being completed.
The project started on December 2017, and despite administrative complexity and a “learning by doing” process, the Call for R&I proposal could be launched three months later with a high quality evaluation and selection process.
200 Preproposal were submitted, and 27 first class projects have been selected for funding, with priority given to both high scientific quality, EU AU partnership, relevance for FNSSA and Impact pathway analysis. These 27 projects cover the whole range of Food System topics: Sustainable agriculture and animal production; Food and nutrition; Trade and markets.
These projects will contribute to the enforcement of knowledge-based system on Food and Nutrition Security and Sustainable Agriculture (FNSSA), and should support the EU AU High Level Policy Dialogue (HLPD) on R&I on FNSSA.
LEAP-Agri will then become a “Research and Funders Alliance” on FNSSA, with the objective as indicated in the “Additional activities” to enlarge in the future the participating countries numbers and to the effective creation of a large Group of Funders dedicated to FNSSA questions.
The LEAP-Agri project has been presented and discussed within different forum and with relevant organizations, such as EU AU HLPD on R&I FNSSA.