Enhancing Pro-poor Innovation in Natural Resources and Agricultural Value Chains [EPINAV]

First Call for Concept Notes


Following the official launching of the EPINAV programme at SUA on 23.02.2011 by H. E. Ingunn Klepsvik  Ambassador of the Royal Government of the Kingdom of Norway in Tanzania, EPINAV is issuing its first call for concept notes .  The inception Workshop for EPINAV was held on 25th March 2011.

To be eligible for consideration in the first instance, the proposed research must:
be seen to (i) contribute to the programme objectives; (ii) be led by a senior SUA researcher ; (iii) address a specific research theme or specific priority commodity for a particular District, Region or Zone in Tanzania.  

The programme’s main research focus is on up-scaling of proven technologies and best practices in entire Districts, Regions or Agricultural Zone using innovation systems and value chain approaches.

There are four research Themes to choose from.
Theme I: Innovation systems research for upscaling of technologies and best practices.    
Theme II : Climate change adaptation for agriculture and Natural Resources.
Theme III : Policy research, analysis  and good governance
Theme IV : Innovative communication and knowledge dissemination pathways.

Concept notes for this first call must be prepared using the form provided  and must be received, by 30th April, 2011.
The level of research grant will vary between themes and projects.  However budgetary allocation will not exceed Tshs. 60,000,000 per project per year.  Project duration will range from 2 to 4 years maximum.
Submit concept notes to the EPINAV-RSI by E-mail at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . with subject “EPINAV first call for concept Notes”
For more information on EPINAV, visit www.suanet.ac.tz./drpgs/



In Tanzania, Agriculture, including forestry, livestock and fisheries, is the main source of livelihood for more than 83% of the poor who live and work on the land.   Agriculture is almost entirely driven by smallholder farmers who still depend on the hand hoe and traditional, rain-fed agriculture and animal husbandry practices.  It is characterized by limited access to and participation in input and output markets, extension services; access to knowledge, information and financial services.  Women account for more than 70% of agricultural production especially of food crops.   They are therefore a vital component of any efforts to transform Tanzanian agriculture.
Productivity of agriculture remains low compared to Asia and Latin America and effects of Climate Change such as frequent droughts and unreliability of rainfall patterns further aggravate food and livelihood insecurity for the majority of rural population and the urban poor.
The Sokoine University of Agriculture has over the years developed and tested a good number of productivity enhancing technologies and best practices in various pilot villages in the country.  Uptake of the technologies to wider communities in the Districts and Regions remains a challenge.  The principal objective of the EPINAV programme is therefore to address up-scaling of  proven technologies and promote adaptation of agriculture and natural resources to the effects of climate change.

PURPOSE [Intermediate Objective]

The purpose of EPINAV is to “enhance productivity, livelihood security and human capacity of target communities to utilize pro-poor and climate change adapted innovations in agriculture and natural resources value chains”.  This overall objective is addressed in three major components: Research and strategic interventions [RSI], Capacity Building and Institutional Collaboration (CBIC); and Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (PM & E).
The Research Component has four themes:
Theme I: Innovation systems research for up-scaling of technologies and best practices.
Theme II: Adaptation of agriculture and Natural Resources to Climate Change.
Theme III: Policy Research Analysis and Governance.
Theme IV: Innovative communication and knowledge dissemination pathways.

EPINAV will pursue its objectives by funding research proposals that directly contribute to realization of the programme outputs and purpose.  To qualify for funding under EPINAV, research must not only enhance frontiers of knowledge but be applied and useful to end users, who are mainly smallholder farmers and other value chain actors.  


This first call for concept notes invites expression of interest (EOI) from eligible researchers  to apply for research funding under EPINAV.   A concept note expresses ideas for a project that the prospective researcher is willing and able to develop and implement.  For this call, EPINAV is inviting concepts that address the programme’s purpose and objectives under the following themes:

Theme I:     Innovation systems research (ISR) which will address key knowledge gaps required to raise agricultural productivity and of Improvement of small scale, poor farmers and other value chain actors’ livelihoods.

The innovations systems research will involve three types of research:

(i)         Action research

This is the type of research that involves some elements of learning by doing on demonstration sites established through previous research such as TARP II, FOCAL, PANTIL and other researches conducted by SUA researchers and/or researchers  in other National Agricultural Research Institutions (NARIs) in Tanzania;  the research should be one that:
•    engages end users in the definition of the research and builds on validated practices to up-scale them through multi-stakeholder innovation clusters at District level as minimum entry point- and coverage.  
•    takes a value chain approach and involves other partners in including the Local Government Authorities, NGO’s, private sector individuals or Business Member Organization whose activities impact on a large number of small holders in a gender sensitive manner will be the ideal candidate projects under this category.
Concept notes for this theme should clearly describe processes for partnership building, multi- stakeholder involvement including researchers from the national research system, policy makers, vulnerable people, and various value chain actors required to achieve up-scaling and out-scaling of proven technologies and best practices.

Proposals under this category should have the following attributes:
(a)       Relevance to programme purpose and objectives (see EPINAV log frame)
(b)      Evidence of efficacy and validation from previous research
(c)      Evidence for potential poverty reducing impacts.
(e)      Evidence of food security enhancing effects on target communities.
(f)      Evidence of potential impact on gender equity and inclusiveness
(g)      Evidence of demand and support from a substantial number of value chain actors and stakeholders, including LGA’s NGO’s BMO’s Private Sector, Policy makers at regional/district levels
(h)      Clear plan to ensure value chain market linkages and sustainability
(i)      Have linkages to existing best practices demonstration centres such as Farm Field
schools, village/ward resource centres , etc.

Priority commodities/ areas for research under this theme will include
a.    Food staples [Maize, Rice Cassava, Bananas, Beans & pulses]
b.    Animal Source foods including Ruminant and non ruminant livestock meat and milk as well as  farmed fish; local chicken and farm power and mechanization
c.    Oil seeds crops
d.    High value, Fruits & Vegetables as alternative cash crops

Priority sites will include the government’s named six food basket regions [Morogoro, Iringa, Mbeya, Songea, Rukwa and Kigoma].
Note: Projects should be carried out in one or more contiguous districts in one region or agricultural zone and on one or more commodity where there is interrelationship or need for integrated approach.

ii)     Applied Research for development and validation of technologies and practices

This may be on-farm or on-station research designed to validate new knowledge or practice; development of new technology or processes before they are ready for application on farmers’ fields, factories or placing on consumer markets.  Strategic research areas include:
(i)    Characterization and conservation of plant and animal genetic resources; knowledge generation to assist poor rural women and men emerge from poverty by effectively managing their own resources gain access to agricultural and natural resource management technologies and innovations; have more effective input in decision making processes of agricultural and natural resources management organization that affect their livelihoods.   
This type of research will be of short term nature aimed at testing and validation of technologies and market processes in different agro-ecological sites and/or climatic cycles (wet and dry seasons).   They typically run for two – three years and may absorb undergraduates, M.Sc. and PhD self sponsoring students.   
Proposals under this category should have the following attributes:
(a)    Addresses a knowledge gap that has not been tested or validated previously.
(b)    Addresses a commodity, process, practice or product that has potential for immediate commercial application or productivity enhancement.
(c)    Provides alternative to existing inefficient, labour demanding, gender insensitive, environmentally unfriendly technology, resource depleting practice, process or attitudes and ensures sustainability.
(d)    Tests logical hypothesis, uses scientifically sound and credible research methods and appropriate data analysis tools.
(e)    Addresses a problem/challenge significant enough to produce research output adequate for M.Sc. or PhD thesis/dissertation and high quality publications.

Note: Projects should be carried out in one or more contiguous districts in one region or agricultural zone and on one or more commodity where there is interrelationship or need for integrated approach

Category III    Basic research for generation of new knowledge

Basic research is needed and is critical for generation of new knowledge on key aspects of Tanzania’s agriculture such as application of modern tools for genetic improvement, collection, storage, manipulation and conservation of genetic resources; understanding physiology and response mechanisms to various soil, water, nutrient and climatic stressors.   This research will be of short term nature typically lasting one-two years.  
Basic research is suitable for absorbing both MSc and PhD research and should lead to high scientific value output with potential for application.  Such research should preferably make more effective use of existing human and material resources such as laboratory equipment which are otherwise too expensive to acquire for a single project or left underutilised.
Proposals under this category should have the following attributes:
(a)    Addresses a knowledge gap that has not been researched, tested or validate previously.
(b)    Tests logical hypothesis, use scientifically sound and credible research methods and appropriate data analysis tools.
(c)    Address a problem/challenge significant/specific enough to produce research output adequate for MSc or PhD dissertation thesis.
There will be two calls for this category of research year in 2011/2012 and 2012/2013 Research topics may come from areas of agriculture, natural resources, physical and biological sciences that addresses significant knowledge gaps.

Theme 2:    Adaptation of Agriculture and Natural resources to Climate change.

Research under this theme will address among other topics: evaluation and testing of crops and plants for drought and disease resistance; crop-livestock interactions; watershed management; rainwater harvesting and irrigation techniques suitable for conserving water, soil water, conservation agriculture and use of renewable energy sources.  
Criteria for assessing concept notes under this  theme will include:
(a)         Relevance to programme goal, purpose and theme objectives
(b)         Should be innovative and address adaptation pathways leading to improved food security improved environment for  target communities and sustainability.
(c)         Should address a problem in drought prone arid and semi-arid areas of Tanzania i.e. the central corridor of Dodoma, Singida, Tabora, Shinyanga and North Eastern parts of Tanzania; Kilimanjaro, Arusha and Manyara Region.
(d)         Should address staple food crops, cash crops, crop-livestock interaction and agroforestry systems.
(e)         Address issue that provides opportunities for high quality research leading to MSc., PhD thesis/dissertation.
(f)         Address the role of gender in adaptation and resilience to climate change effects on agriculture and natural resources.

Outputs of research under this category should contribute in concrete terms and verifiable ways towards reducing vulnerability to climate variability and change.
Note: Projects should be carried out in one or more contiguous districts in one region or agricultural zone and on one or more commodity where there is interrelationship or need for integrated approach

Theme 3:    Policy research analysis and governance.

Priority areas under this theme will include Land policy and land use systems; domestic crop and livestock marketing policies; regional and international trade policies and their impacts on local agricultural systems; Extension services policies and practices and informing policy formulation processes through research evidence and proposals will include:
Proposals under this theme should have the following attributes:
(a)       Relevance to programme goal, purpose and objectives
(b)     Should address policy issues that have significant impacts on agricultural
performance and livelihoods.
(c)    Should distil research evidence with potential for policy making processes
(d)      Promote gender balance and regulatory environment
(e)      Promote pro-poor policy and regulatory environment.
(f)      Promote environmental friendly policies and regulatory environment
(g)     Address issues that provide opportunities for high quality research leading to
MSc and PhD research.
(h)      Have potential for producing policy debates of national significance.

There will be two calls of this type of research in 2011/12 and 2012/2013.

Note: Projects under this theme are expected to have more national outlook than district level or regional focus as policies and governance issues often have a national coverage.
The strategy is to conduct research that would produce a national policy issue paper for public debate.

Theme 4:  Innovative Communication pathways for promoting knowledge dissemination and market linkage.

This theme will be facilitative/cross cutting in nature;  working with innovation Clusters under Theme 1 action research as well as research issues under Theme 2 and Theme 4.
Researchers will seek to test the effect of specific communication technologies and products in facilitating the uptake and diffusion of innovations including audio-visual products, radio, TV mobile phones, call centre use of the “digital pen” in data recording and transmission of information to data bases and develop and test ways to use agricultural information systems in regional, zonal and national innovation systems clusters.  The research will involve:
(i)         Identification and packaging of information for scaling out and scaling up technologies and best practices.
(ii)         Improving market linkages and market information flow in selected commodity value chains prioritised under theme I.
(iii)         Studies on what promotes or hinders uptake of technologies/innovations in specific communities and understanding the institutional and policy factors involved.
(iv)         Address market information needs of various stakeholders along the commodity value chains.
(v)    Promote sustainable knowledge management systems among key value chain actors.

Note: Projects should be carried out in one or more contiguous districts in one region or agricultural zone and on one or more commodity where there is interrelationship or need for integrated approach


Concept notes will be evaluated in two stages.  Only those concept notes that clearly meet the ten eligibility criteria shown in the application form  will be further evaluated.

The review of concept notes will be carried out by a panel of independent [SUA & External] experts in relevant themes.

The review will address three broad areas covering:

1)    Potential of the proposed project’s output to contribute to purpose and objectives of EPINAV ( see EPINAV Logframe)

Specifics include:
i)    Plan to engage various value chain actors and stakeholders such as policy
makers, private sector, NGO’s,  poor men and women, children and other vulnerable groups and explanation of how they will be involved.
ii)    Team members experience and competency relevant to the purpose and objectives of EPINAV.
iii)    Proposed methods are robust enough to produce project’s intended outcomes.
iv)    Anticipated outcomes will have desired impact on poverty reduction and improved livelihood for the poor.
v)    The proposal meets quality criteria spelt out for specific theme.

2)    Technical quality and potential for success

This criterion will include the following:
i)    The team constitution, qualification track record and capability to deliver the project is backed by strong multidisciplinary required to deliver the project.
ii)    Evidence of appropriate partnerships including involvement of non-SUA National Researchers and Norwegian collaborators.
iii)    Ability and readiness to adopt a multidisciplinary and participatory approach.
iv)    Clear indication of synergy of roles within the team.
v)    The overall technical quality of the concept note
•    Clear and logical presentation
•    Concise and convincing rationale, drawing on existing knowledge and experiences
•    Appropriate programme/Calendar of work
vi)    Proposed project Methodology tool
•    Use of sound concepts and tools
•    Proposed methods are reasonable given the objectives, team composition, anticipated collaboration and indicative budget.
•    Sensitivity to gender and other social dimensions of vulnerability to a variety of social, economic and climate change impacts.
•    Evidence that the team is planning to use monitoring and evaluation tools that show the projects contribution to the EPINAV goal purpose and objectives.

3)    Dissemination and up-scaling

This criterion will include:
i)    Partnerships and linkages of the project and its team indicate potential to disseminate results widely to partners within the project’s area and beyond.
ii)    Good strategy and plan for disseminating outputs and outcomes.
iii)    Good strategy and plan for communicating projects output and outcomes to District, Regional, Zonal and/or National Stakeholders.

Click here to Download Printable Copy for EPINAV Concept Note Background Information

Click here to Download EPINAV Concept Note Application  Form

Click here to Download EPINAV LOGFRAME