ARF: An innovative research grant
From November 11 till November 14, 2014, a ‘write-shop’ targeting the second Call of the NWO-WOTRO Applied Research Fund (ARF) took place in Uganda. This fund provides grants to applied research contributing to innovation for food security and private sector development in the 15 partner countries of Dutch development cooperation. All research is jointly conducted by local practitioners’ organizations and research, and/or higher education organizations.
The first ARF Call resulted in grants being awarded to 15 research projects. The organizers of this write-shop in Uganda were PAEPARD, a network supporting research collaboration between a wide range of organizations in Africa and Europe, and RUFORUM, the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture. Knowledge Broker Nicole Metz represented the Office of the Food & Business Knowledge Platform during the first two days. A short description of the workshop process was previously posted on this website, including a reference to a PAEPARD blog with the list of project ideas developed.
During the workshop, 11 participating research consortia from five African countries further developed their ideas concerning their agriculture and food research initiatives, and started writing the specifics of their research contents and methodology. The participants showed an interest in specific sectors, such as vegetables (Ghana), potatoes (Kenya), tomatoes (Burundi) and dairy (Kenya), and often focused on applied research to explore technical solutions to enhance productivity and the quality of production and processing. Some proposals focused on nutrition interventions or nutrient and soil management issues.
PAEPARD Project Manager Jonas Mugabe and other participants also shared their feedback on the requirements of the ARF with Nicole Metz. Mugabe, who closely watches agricultural research trends and has an advisory role for the participating consortia, confirmed: ‘ARF is an innovative grant as it puts practitioners in the lead. Compared to other similar European funds for agricultural research, it is much more oriented towards linkages between practitioners and researchers. ’ Participating PAEPARD consortia members acknowledged that building an effective research partnership is a process that takes time. They asked the Food & Business Knowledge Platform and WOTRO to recognize this, as well as to facilitate exchange and learning on partnership aspects during future learning meetings for ARF grant recipient teams.
The new ARF requirement to have a Dutch co-applicant appeared to be one of the biggest challenges that the research consortia face. PAEPARD expects a positive impact of this requirement, as one may expect it adds quality and strengthens the capacities of African research consortia. However, it is quite challenging for the research consortia to identify a Dutch partner on such a short term basis as well as to jointly agree with them on a project proposal before the two upcoming ARF deadlines1. Most consortia do not have contact with potential Dutch partners yet, while only a few have established a steady partnership with Dutch universities or other actors.
The offer of assistance to connect to Dutch universities, companies or NGOs by the Food & Business Knowledge Platform and by the representative of Agri-ProFocus Uganda was therefore appreciated.
- 1. January 12, and May 12, 2015