RAF: U.S. Borlaug Fellowship for Global Food Security


Request for Applications (RFA)

Request for Applications

This RFA solicits applications to support U.S. students conducting research on topics related to the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative – Feed the Future (FTF). All topics that relate to food security (e.g., agriculture, nutrition, ecological resources, poverty) and are linked to the research strategies of the Feed the Future initiative are admissible. We welcome applications from U.S. Borlaug Summer Institute on Global Food Security participants who meet eligibility requirements.

The U.S. Borlaug Fellows in Global Food Security graduate research grants are intended to support students interested in developing a component of their graduate research in a single, developing country setting by supporting the student’s work in-residence at an International Agricultural Research Center (IARC), or a qualifying National Agricultural Research System (NARS) unit. Candidates are particularly encouraged to conduct research in Feed the Future focus countries (www.feedthefuture.gov). At a minimum, research must be carried out in countries supported by a USAID mission. Note, all research centers of the CGIAR consortium are eligible partners; if you are interested in working within an IARC or NARC outside of the CGIAR system, or in multiple countries, please contact us at borlaugfellows@purdue.edu before developing your application.

The students are expected to have a faculty advisor at their home institution and a research center mentor from the IARC or NARS that is serving as host for the student’s international fieldwork. The applicant must demonstrate that there is strong support for the proposed project by both his/her faculty advisor and the IARC/NARS mentor. We encourage students to seek guidance from both their faculty advisor and research center mentor(s) as they develop their project. Applicants are required to describe in detail how their proposed research leads to a significant impact on food security.

Students are encouraged to think creatively about the needs of their particular project and plan a budget that best suits their educational needs and circumstances.  Grant funds can be used to support a variety of research needs including student travel to the research site, research materials and supplies, living expenses while abroad, and travel for the faculty advisor and/or research center mentor to the IARC/NARS or the student’s U.S. university, respectively.  Funds cannot be used to pay tuition, salaries, institutional overheard or to support applicant’s dependents.

The grants have a maximum value of USD 15,000 for students applying for 6-month long international research stays; USD 20,000 for 1-year long international research stays; and USD 40,000 for 2-year long international research stays. Students are expected to stay in-residence in the host country for the majority of the time (85%) with some time available for short-term absences. Grant funds are not intended to cover all costs of the proposed research, and applicants are expected to leverage outside funding in support of their work plans.

Students applying for 1-year long research grants may split the year into two, 6-month long stays over a period of no more than 18 months. Fellows who do so still must spend 85% of their time during those two, six-month long stays in the host country.

NewThe U.S. Borlaug Fellows in Global Food Security Program graduate research grant is an overseas research grant; however, in extenuating circumstances and with adequate justification, the Borlaug grant may also support up to one semester (no more than four months) of student support costs in the U.S. in order to carry out data analysis or writing a thesis or dissertation stemming from overseas research.

Up to 15% of the total budget can be applied in the US to defray student research costs, preparing manuscripts for publication or finalizing thesis/dissertation.  Costs that will be budgeted include housing, meals, local transportation, data processing, lab fees, printing and travel to a professional conference to present a paper or poster.  As a point of reference, for a $15,000 six month grant, applicants may budget up to $2,250 for states-side support for a total of $17,250.  For a $20,000 one-year grant, up to $3,000 may be budgeted for US support (for a total of $23,000) while a $40,000 two-year grant can budget up to $6,000 for states-side support (for a total of $46,000).

Borlaug funds cannot be used to pay tuition, taxes of any type, equipment, research/teaching salaries (assistantships), general university fees not associated directly with the Borlaug overseas research program, or research outside the Borlaug program.  The application must include a detailed description of states-side activities with a timeline, a detailed breakdown of costs in budget, and a statement on why you are not able to secure funds from other sources.  Borlaug funds used states-side must also be managed by your university in a similar manner to the funds applied abroad.

Application DeadlineMonday, April 11, 2016, 11:59 PM Eastern Time.

Notifications for the Spring 2016 round of awards are expected to be made on or around June 1, 2016.

Application: To submit an application, follow the instructions here.

Applicants who need assistance in making contact with international mentors should contact a representative at the various International Agricultural Research Centers (IARCs). Please note that we do not match students with mentors, but the Purdue Center for Global Food Security staff is able to provide recommendations and to provide contact information for potential centers and mentors. Please see our website for a list of IARCs and their contact information.

Eligibility Criteria: Applicants to the graduate research grant program must be a U.S. citizen, and must be enrolled in an accredited U.S. graduate program.

Review of Applications: A selection committee will review applications and the top-ranked applicants may be interviewed before a final selection is made.

Awards are made on a competitive basis to students who show strong scientific foundation and possess leadership potential, propose a well-coordinated research plan that clearly articulates concepts and objectives that are innovative and feasible, and project a commitment to international development. Emphasis will be placed on proposed projects that are interdisciplinary, but students approaching an issue through a single discipline will also be considered. We welcome research projects in any developing country that has a significant food insecurity problem. Applications to Feed the Future countries will be reviewed favorabley. Review the evaluation criteria here.

Article Disclaimer: This Request For Application (RAF) was published at the Center for Global Food Security at Purdue University. Please visit the link provided for details information of the grant, application process, criteria and how to acquire sponsorship from a International Agricultural Research Center.


Why I feel the United Nations has failed the Syrian people?

Photo credit: Nilüfer Demir/AFP/Getty Images

By: Jenkins Macedo, Editor/Founder, INDESEEM; Date: 02.28.2016

The US and Russia has finally decided that they can settle their selfish difference over their so-called national security interests in Syria and the rest of the region, after a recent report suggests that over 250,000 people have been killed since the Syrian war started about 5 years ago.

Whenever I see images of the Syrian war, I can’t stop but remember the effects of the Liberian civil war, the war in Sierra Leone and the 1995 massacre of Liberian refugees in southeastern Ivory Coast.

In early September 2015, the world reacted angrily to the images of Syrian refugees that were drowned, while trying to make their way to save haven in Europe. Most especially, the world reacted angrier to the photo of a toddler (a three year old Syrian boy) – Aylan Kurdi who was drowned along with members of his family. Neatly dressed with a very nice hair cut and his shoes still on his beautiful feet, it tears my heart that if I was a man in position of authority, I would have immediately ordered my forces like that of the UN to immediately intervene in Syria militarily with the mission to protect civilians at all cost both from friendly forces and the enemies.

You may notice how deeply hurt I am by the manner in which I have written this post in reaction to the new developments that we here in the US and other folks in Russia, think we can fix problems at all times. We sit and naively develop problems, blow it up into disproportionate parts, leave and just to come back to appear like the good Samaritan. But, we should realize that for every action there is an opposite or equal reaction. The seeds of destructions we sow today will grow and hunt us in the future.

The reason that I am particularly skeptical of the staged role that we (America) is playing in the Syrian civil war is particularly informed by the role we played in the 13 – years bloody, nonsensical civil war that completely annihilated over 500,000 Liberians and displaced over 2 million people. I don’t need to narrate the genesis of the Liberian civil war, but everyone knows that America intensely facilitated the war and drew back when things got out of hand.

First, they (the US Government) provided the escape of Charles Taylor to break a maximum-security prison in Massachusetts with the brilliance of the current so-called President of Liberia who along with many other American-Liberians effectively lobbied the support of the US Congress to support the NPFL rebel forces. Taylor, who led the NPFL force backfired from the initial mission – to overthrow Samuel Doe and prepare for election, decided that he wanted to be president. His greed and evil mindset and attempts to destabilize the region led to the civil war in neighboring Sierra Leone, cross borders attacks against refugees in Guinea and the support of civil rebellion in Ivory Coast.

With Charles Taylor’s ambition to become president of Liberia after months of progressive and successful military offenses against government forces, which resulted to his forces capturing about 75% of the country, which included strategic natural resources including timber, gold and diamonds, rubber, etc. He became determine to violate the US-supported and “classified”mission in Liberia, which provided both military hardware and other logistical support for the NPFL rebel forces during the initial stage of the civil war. With this mindset, his forces were divided and Prince Johnson, one of the initial commanders of the NPFL forces decided that he wanted to stay with the US-led mission to overthrow the government, bring Samuel Doe to justice and facilitate a free and fair election.

Fast forward, overnight in Monrovia, Prince Johnson’s INFPL forces were airlifted with logistical support of the US and early in the morning his forces magically appeared behind lines of government forces into the heart of Monrovia and over-running the defense ministry and other government institutions in the same vicinity killing elite soldiers at dawn, looting, and raiding the government weapon depots. With military assistance from Guinea, the government forces were tactically able to repelled INPFL forces from parts of central Monrovia across one of the major bridges effectively placing the City of Monrovia, name after President James Monroe, into months of siege by rebel forces loyal to both Charles Taylor on one hand and Prince Johnson on the other hand.

Again, with the deception of ECOWAS facilitated in part by the US Embassy in Monrovia, Prince Johnson captured Samuel Doe, while trying to escape Liberia under an agreement with ECOWAS. Johnson got words from his US collaborators that plan was that Doe was trying to escape the country. With that Intel available, Johnson and some of his forces captured and killed President Doe in public.

WARNING: This video contains disturbing image. In this video, you can clearly hear Prince Y. Johnson making a radio call to his collaborators at the US Embassy beginning from 1:02.. “Tango” was the code name for the US and “Sunshine” is his (Johnson’s) code name and he indicated that he wanted to speak with the US Ambassador.


However, before the final execution of the president, Prince Johnson made several calls to his contacts at the US Consulate that he had captured the president and was awaiting their instruction. Foolishly, during the call there was a BBC journalist at the scene who witnessed the tortures and subsequent death, which was videotape. So, it was not surprising that his contact at the US Consulate wasn’t answering because they didn’t now want to be involved as he was commanded to capture and not kill.

But the facts remains unchanged that we (Americans) put our noses in other people’s businesses and when things fall apart, we park our luggage and leave. That is what we do and that is why the war in Syria is partly our fault and that is why President Assad has to stay to make sure that his country and people are not executed like rats when jihadist take over.

A classic example of how the traces of war are compelling in places like Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya. Today, Somalia and Libya are two of the most dangerous places to live. In both countries, the traces of our military industrial complexes are compelling. We sowed seeds of hatred, war and death and today those areas are total mayhem.

We facilitated the removal of folks we call – the bad guys and have practically no clue what to do next and in the so-called name of “democracy”, we create a system that becomes so vulnerable that within months and few years collapse under our feet, while we shift gears and point our fingers that other way casting the blames on others. In Somalia, extremists came and fill that gap and the same occur in Iraq after the massive army of Saddam fled.

We had no solid plan to try to bring those folks back and de-institutionalize them and try to rehabilitate them into another system, but rather, those same folks went and form jihadist group 7 times wicked. The same trend occurs in Libya under the leadership of the so-called removal of Gaddafi. Today, Libya is a fragmented state run by militias and warlords on one hand and a pseudo government with no centralized control over the militia.

So, why would anyone be surprise that Russia is trying to protect her interest in Syria. Why would it surprise anyone that we continually try to support and protect our interest in other countries like South Korea, Israel, Turkey, Taiwan, etc.? Russia has long insisted that the problem in Syria has to be solved diplomatically.

We rejected that and forged more towards facilitating a rebellion in support of the rebels that are very diverse and lack focus and clear mission. We continue to send special forces to the rebels held areas for training and the provisions of logistics and other forms of tactical support, while Russia on the other hand was talking more towards finding a diplomatic solution four years before their intervention alongside the Assad regime.

If I was to asked myself this question, who wanted a more sustain and peaceful process to the Syrian crisis prior to the escalation of the conflict or even after? Russia! We spoke one language and that was regime change when the initial language of the Syrian revolution was – reform. We effectively change the discourse of the Syrian revolution through social engineering and surgically proclaim war as the ground for regime change over peaceful and diplomatic process.

We became skeptical of that and we are still skeptical of that. Today, we realized that Syria is not Libya where we just had our own way. For most part, Gaddafi did not do a good job sustaining a great friendship with some of his key allies. If he could have done that, his removal would have taken longer or unlikely. The Syrian president maintains that if there should be a leadership change, that request must come from the Syrian people and not America, France or the UK or even Saudi Arabia or Turkey, which has the tendency of support these same jihadist groups. The war in Syria is a complex war and doing a stakeholders analysis would therefore generate a massive report with complex networks structures.

In the midst of all these perplexity there could have been one group that could have at least make a unify force that brings the mayhems in Syria to a halt if not complete and that group is the United Nations (UN).

Syria was admitted as a member of the UN on October 24, 1945 and as a member state has the legal right for the UN to intervene in matters to protect civilian. The UN over the last 5 years had done practically nothing substantial to bring the civil war to an end. As I stated in the case of Liberia, at some point, about 15,000 UN Peace Keepers from around the world were sent to Liberia (a tiny country compared to Syria) to protect civilian as well as facilitate the process of peace. Why not Syria? Why has the UN completely fell on its belly like a sleeping boa constrictor that has just swollen a fully-grown deer? Why has the UN built a completely resistant cyst against itself that it has in a way facilitated the murder and executions of 470,000 people, which include countless children like Aylan Kurdi and thousands more who’s stories go untold.

These questions and many more disturb me every now and than and I wonder to ask myself, this could be one of my children? As Aylan Kurdi lie motionless on the Turkish beach and as the waters of the Mediterranean Sea washed against his body, it sends chills throughout my body that an innocent child and his family and many others have to died this way, while we watch, wait and see and than react later.

The Syrian people do not need us to watch. They need us to act and the process of acting requires us to stop support sides and take the people at heart. It is the Syrian people that matter. Not Assad, not the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA), not even IS and their collaborators.

We must change our perspective on Syria. Russia is not the enemy. The US is not an enemy to Russia. So, whatever the Plan B that John Kerry referenced yesterday, it better be something that makes sense for humanity, because we can no longer sit back and allow federalist to impose their will on us. Americans are not people who like war. We are a peaceful people and if we believe in that mentality, at least I do for most part, than it is time for us to question some of the bogus policies that is only meant to make the world unsafe not only for us – Americans, but for Libyans, Syrians, Liberians, Iraqis, Afghans, Somalian, Sierra Leonean, etc.

The UN needs to man up and take a more forceful role to effect the ceasefire not just to monitor and observe all parties observance of the ceasefire, but to have a total force presence that is capable militarily to enforce compliance, if not, combat as needed. The United Nations has truly surprise me and I am wondering if it is worth what it is called. The rest is left with you the readers to fathom in.

God bless the people of Syria and may all the little ones who are starving, thirsty, needs medicine, suffering from the untold horrors of war – find peace, love and life. For us, we are grateful that we have peace and it is our duty as shared universal citizen of planet earth to reflect this same peace to others. We need to push our governments to stop what they are doing. They have done so many things wrong and it is now time that they stop.

To the UN, do your job! It is your responsibility to facilitate the peace process in Syria and other conflict zones. Whether or not members of the UN Security Council are at war with themselves on issues of Syria, there should be a way to have a peacekeeping force in Syria irrespective of whether or not the US and her allies accepts that Assard stays or Russia.


Food security: Asia’s critical balancing act


35 year old Indian farmer Niren Das manually irrigates his paddy field on the outskirts of Gauhati, India. About 60 per cent of India’s population works in the agriculture sector. (Photo: AAP).

Authors: R. Quentin Grafton ; John Williams, ANU, and Qiang Jiang, Sichuan University. Date: February 2, 2016

Asia’s food systems are under an unprecedented confluence of pressures. Balancing future food demand and supply in ways that protect the most vulnerable, while also being sustainable, must be a first order policy priority.

Demand for food is driven by population and income growth, and also urbanisation. Global population size is projected to increase from over 7.3 billion today to more than 9.5 billion by 2050 under a medium growth scenario. Per capita income growth at 3 per cent a year will more than double average world income by 2050. More people and higher average incomes will result in greater food consumption and changes in diets.

For instance, rapid growth in per-capita income over the past two decades in China has been accompanied by sharp growth in the consumption of livestock products. Intensive livestock production is much less efficient than direct crop consumption in providing food calories. As meat contributes to a greater share of the calories consumed, proportionally more crops will need to be grown.

Recent studies estimate food production will need to increase by at least 60 per cent between 2005 and 2050. Not only are there about 800 million people in the world chronically undernourished today, global studies show that it is necessary to increase global crop yield by a minimum of 1.1 per cent per annum to feed the world by 2050. The current growth of average global crop yields varies between 0.9 and 1.6 per cent per year. The future challenge is whether crop yield increases on the lower end of this range will be sufficient to meet increased food demands.

Prospects for the future are all the more uncertain because past production has sometimes degraded or destroyed ecosystems on which agriculture is ultimately dependent. The availability of suitable lands for agriculture is likely to be plentiful in only a few regions by 2050. To make matters worse, there is increasing competition for land, water and energy for uses other than for food production.

Substantial water deficits from agricultural water use alone are also likely to occur in key food-producing countries, such as China and India. Increasingly high rates of crop water usage will put very large demands on water resources. The projected water deficit from current practices can be eliminated only by reducing water demand in other sectors, or by reducing water levels in surface flows or groundwater.

Climate change poses further risks to future food supplies. This is not just because of higher temperatures that are moderately negative for some plants and positive for some others. The major difficulty in terms of food supply lies in climate variability. A possible increase in the number of extreme weather events poses many challenges, not least of which is the increased variability of food prices.

Given bio-physical constraints such as the availability of land and water, technological improvements and efficiency gains are required. This is especially critical in tropical locations with low soil nutrient availability and water retention. There is a need for investment in research and development to ensure current rates of yield growth do not fall any further. This must also be achieved without compromising the soils and water on which future food production depends.

Food trade will be important for ensuring an adequate distribution of food across countries. Growing food shortages are predicted for South Asian countries such as India and Pakistan. These countries represent ‘choke points’ that are likely to remain even if global crop yields are sufficient in total.

While there is genuine concern about how Asia will meet anticipated increases in food demand, globally agriculture has successfully responded to increased food demand over the past decades. Food supply has more than tripled since 1960 and continues to rise at a global level.

Fertilisers will play an increasingly important role in overcoming yield gaps but complementary approaches are needed to promote sustainable growth. Provided sufficient nutrients are present, crop improvements through genetic modification and improved agricultural management can help overcome possible future food availability deficits. Even substantial improvements in potential crop yields and water productivity cannot offset critically-limiting nutrients.

But fertiliser can impose negative environmental costs on landscapes, as well as planetary nitrogen and phosphorus cycles. Reductions in its excessive use must be accompanied by methods of crop production that offset the expected decline in yields. For countries highly dependent on crop fertilisation, such as China and the United States, finding sustainable ways to deliver nutrients essential to food production is a major challenge.

The sustainability of Asia’s food production systems is being questioned in a world with intensive agriculture. Current agricultural production and distribution already leaves hundreds of millions of people hungry in the world, while growth in agricultural production under a business-as-usual model will likely contribute to the planet approaching or even surpassing its safe operating space in terms of biodiversity, climate change and the nitrogen cycle. Land, biodiversity and water degradation have, and will continue, to restrict growth in food availability in the coming decades. Effectively responding to the nexus of food security and environmental risks will be a key policy challenge for Asian countries in the coming decades.

Information About the Authors:

Quentin Grafton is a professor of economics at the Australian National University and Editor-in-Chief of Policy Forum.net.

John Williams is an adjunct professor at the Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University and adjunct professor at CSU Institute of Land Water and Society.

Qiang Jiang is an associate research fellow at Sichuan University, China.

An extended version of this article was published in the most recent edition of the East Asia Forum Quarterly, ‘Asia’s Inter-generational Challenges‘.

Article Disclaimer: This article was originally published at East Asia Forum and was retrieved and posted here at INDESEEM on 02/02/2016 for information and educational purposes only. Please cite the original and this source accordingly.


USDA seeks proposals for market-based wetland protection systems


Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced the establishment of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Wetland Mitigation Banking Program, made possible by the 2014 Farm Bill. Through the program, NRCS will provide $9 million to help states, local governments or other qualified partners develop wetland mitigation banks that restore, create, or enhance wetland ecosystems, broadening the conservation options available to farmers and ranchers so they can maintain eligibility for other USDA programs.

“Over the past seven years, USDA has worked with private landowners to enroll a record number of acres in conservation practices, and we are seeing significant reductions in nutrient runoff and greenhouse gas emissions. Wetland Mitigation Banks will give farmers and ranchers more conservation options so they can find the best solution for their land and circumstances, and produce even more results,” Vilsack said.

NRCS is seeking applications from eligible third-parties to develop wetland mitigation banks, or modify existing banks to better serve agricultural producers. These third-parties include federally recognized Indian tribes; state and local units of government; for-profit entities; and nongovernmental organizations.

USDA is now accepting project proposals for this program. Proposals are due to NRCS before 5:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on March 28, 2016. The announcement and associated forms for this funding opportunity can be found atwww.grants.gov.

Wetland mitigation banking is a market-based approach that involves restoring, creating, or enhancing wetlands in one place to compensate for unavoidable impacts to wetlands at another location. Wetland mitigation banking is commonly used to compensate for wetland impacts from development, but can also be used to offset impacts from agriculture. A small number of banks have been developed in the U.S. specifically to assist agriculture, and the mitigation banks established under this program will be used to help agricultural producers who need to mitigate wetland losses to maintain eligibility for USDA programs.

The maximum award provided through this announcement is up to $1 million. This funding may be used to cover the administrative and technical costs associated with the development of a wetland mitigation bank or banking program. Funding may not be used to purchase an easement or any other interest in land.

Partners will develop, operate, and manage the wetlands mitigation banks with technical oversight from NRCS, and will market mitigation credits to farmers and ranchers. Credits must be made available to producers within two years after the agreement is signed.

NRCS is prioritizing funding to locations that have a significant known wetland compliance workload. These locations include the Prairie Pothole Region, California Vernal Pool Region, Nebraska Rainwater Basin Region, and other areas that have significant numbers of wetlands compliance requests. Priority will also be given to applications based on the speed with which mitigation credits can be made available to agricultural producers.

Learn more about NRCS conservation programs online or visit your local USDA service center.

Article Disclaimer: This call for proposal was posted at AG Professional and was retrieved and posted at INDESEEM for information and educational purposes only. INDESEEM is not responsible for the credibility, accuracy, and authenticity of the post. Please cite the original source accordingly.



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