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Round 9 of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Grand Challenges/Explorations now open

March 1, 2013

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is now accepting grant proposals for Round 9 of Grand Challenges/Explorations, an initiative to encourage innovative and unconventional global health and development solutions. One of the topics of the current round is Protect Crop Plants from Biotic Stresses From Field to Market.

Biotic stresses such as viruses, fungi, bacteria, weeds, insects and other pests and pathogens are a major constraint to agricultural productivity from fields to markets in the developing world. The aim of this topic is to solicit transformative solutions to the pest and pathogen pressures faced by smallholder farmers in developing countries. Researchers and entrepreneurs are encouraged to harness the emerging information and tools in biology and engineering for the goals of agricultural development, to generate ideas that will revolutionise current approaches to crop protection by focusing on the plant, the pests, pathogens, weeds, and/or their interactions. Preliminary data is not required, but proposals should clearly demonstrate how the idea is an innovative leap in progress with the potential to be transformative.

In areas of high disease pressure, like tropical sub-Saharan Africa, and with few resources to combat or prevent infection and infestation, people farming small plots of land are most vulnerable to biotic stresses and can experience devastating crop losses before and after harvests, perpetuating malnutrition and general poverty. The foundation is seeking proposals that:

  • Offer an innovative and transformative solution to protect crop plants from biotic stresses;
  • Substantially increase the sustainable productivity of smallholder farmers in developing countries within the next 10-20 years.
  • Offer potential for dramatic cost reductions or increases in efficiency compared to currently available crop protection strategies;
  • Have potential applicability to one or more of the following crops: maize, wheat, rice, millet, sorghum, cassava, sweet potatoes, yams, beans, cowpeas, chickpeas, and groundnuts;
  • Target a specific or set of specific biotic stresses;
  • Convey a clear and testable hypothesis.

For more information, and to submit your application, go to the Grand Challenges web page.

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