The Graduate Research Grants (GRG) Call provides opportunity to member universities of the Regional Universities Network for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM); a Network of 46 Member Universities in sub-Saharan Africa to develop and submit applications for research and training. The process is based on a competitive granting scheme with the GRG as one of the categories of the scheme. Under the GRG a grant is competitively awarded to a principal investigator (an individual senior lecturer at a member university) to support agricultural research action research and the training of at least two masters students. RUFORUM in the last decade has supported capacity building in agricultural sciences through a Competitive Grants Scheme (CGS). The Graduate Research Grant (GRG) scheme now in the 6th round of call is one of the four grant awards that are administered by RUFORUM. In this 6th call, the RUFORUM Information Management System (RIMS) was utilized during the submission and review of applications marking the commencement of a virtual granting process at the RUFORUM Secretariat. Submissions made through other channels (e.g., via email attachemnts) apart from the RIMS were not considered. A total of 108 proposals were received via RIMS, 93% of which complied with the application guidelines and 21% were led by female principal investigators; this however is lower than the RUFORUM 42% target for female representation. Thirty percent of the proposals focused on crop production, 25% on cross-cutting thematic area (agri-business management, rural development and socio-economics, food science and nutrition, climate change and natural resources management as well as agricultural extension, communications and information systems) and 20% addressed animal production. Disaggregated submissions by commodity focus showed that 26.4% and 10.4% of the proposals focused on cereals, fisheries and aquaculture and ruminants respectively. While there remains a high focus on crop production there is an observed increase in submissions on animal production and cross-cutting themes. The analysis also reveals limited attention to some critical areas, especially farm management and natural resources; land, soil and water and, agroforestry and it is imperative that the Secretariat and member Universities undertake strategic interventions in these areas. In addition, the Secretariat and member universities need to undertake strategic interventions to uplift the participation of women scientists in the competitive grants in the network. The analysis of this process and from the submissions in response to the 6th RUFORUM GRG Call will guide future interventions in terms of solicitations for research proposals intended to focus on agricultural research and training for postgraduate students in Africa.
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RUFORUM Briefing Papers/Policy Briefs
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