We are pleased to announce that the Feed the Future Innovation Lab Collaborative Research on Grain Legumes, known as the Dry Grain Pulses Collaborative Research Support Program (Pulse CRSP) from 2007 to 2012 and now to be called the Legume Innovation Lab, has been awarded a $24.5 million extension for 4.5 years, through September 29, 2017.
The research work of Pulse CRSP PI Dr. Barry Pittendrigh (PI-UIUC-1) was featured on the Big Ten Network in February 2013.
Link to main video article
Dr. Irv Widders, director, and Dr. Cynthia Donovan, deputy director, Legume Innovation Lab, were interviewed at the 2012 World Food Prize in Des Moines, Iowa, in December 2012, on how grain legumes contribute to Feed the Future Strategic Initiatives. Link to Video.
(This column is updated regularly to reflect vital information for researchers and managers connected to PULSE CRSP projects and grants. If nothing is listed, nothing is immediately due.)
Grain Legumes represent a diverse group of edible leguminous crops including common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris), cowpea (Vigna unguiculata), pigeon pea (Cajanus cajan), chick peas (Cicer arietinum), fava beans (Vicia faba), lentils (Lens culinaris), and the like. These crops have the unique potential to provide solutions to health and hunger challenges and generate income and agriculture sustainability in developing countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and Asia. As traditional staple foods, legumes constitute a major source of affordable protein, complex carbohydrates, essential micronutrients, dietary fiber,
vitamin B, and anti-oxidants in the nutritionally challenged diets of
both the rural and urban poor. Due to their adaptability to marginal
production agroecologies and relatively high market value, legumes are
extensively cultivated by resource-poor, smallholder farmers for both
household food security and as cash crops. Moreover, legumes are valued by farmers for their contribution to soil fertility and health
and compatibility with cereal and root crops in a cropping system.
Global Program Vision
- To build upon the technical advances in legume research and capacity building achieved during the current award period (2007–2012)
- To exploit opportunities to make substantial new technological gains while contributing to USAID’s Feed the Future Research Strategy of “enhancing grain legume productivity and nutritional quality of diets”
- To focus efforts on priority technical constraints and challenges facing grain legume value chains, utilizing the innovative research approaches afforded by modern science and the capacities of U.S. universities
- To integrate program-strengthening measures in response to lessons learned over the past five years and recommendations from the Pulse CRSP’s Technical Management Advisory Committee and the External Evaluation Team (EET) commissioned by USAID
- To strengthen partnerships, complementarity, and coordination of research activities with the CGIAR through CRP3.5 Grain Legumes and other FTF research projects (i.e., USDA/ARS and NIFA, etc.) in areas where the Legume Innovation Lab has comparative strength and ongoing efforts
- To position the Legume Innovation Lab to better link and contribute to the achievement of FTF agricultural development strategies of country and regional USAID Missions and to provide development aassistance through the Associate Award mechanism
The research program of the Legume Innovation Lab will focus on four Strategic Objectives (SOs) during the five-year extension (2013–2017). These SOs are consistent with the Global Themes of the previous five-year Pulse CRSP award (2007–2012) but reflect a better programmatic alignment with USAID’s Feed the Future Global Food Security Research Strategy.
Strategic Objective 1. Advancing the Productivity Frontier: To substantively and sustainably increase grain legume productivity by improving adaptation to diverse agroecologies and reducing smallholder farmer vulnerability to climate change, with special consideration for the livelihoods of women
- SO1.A: To substantively enhance the genetic yield potential of grain legumes by exploiting new research tools afforded by genomics and molecular breeding approaches (e.g., MAS), with a focus on improving resistances to economically important abiotic and biotic constraints that limit yield in the agroecological regions where legumes are commonly grown in Africa and Latin America
- SO1.B: To sustainably reduce the yield gap for selected grain legume crops produced by smallholder, resource-poor farmers in strategic cropping systems
Strategic Objective 2. Transforming Grain Legume Systems and Value Chains: To transform grain legume-based systems through improved smallholder production management decision making and more effectual governance management of grain legume value chains by stakeholders, including smallholder farmers and consumers
Strategic Objective 3. Enhancing Nutrition: To improve the nutritional quality of diets and to enhance the nutritional and health status of the poor, especially women and young children, through the consumption of edible grain legume-based foods
Strategic Objective 4. Improving Outcomes of Research and Capacity Building: To improve outcomes of legume research and capacity building projects and to assess impacts to improve decision making regarding future investments
Institutional Capacity Building
The strategy of the Pulse CRSP for enhancing the capacity of agricultural research institutions in developing countries involves:
Support of degree training to address identified Host Country institutions’ staff needs and priorities;
Utilization of CRSP funds to leverage additional resources to achieve institutional capacity objectives and to strengthen the collaborative research effort;
Utilization of advanced regional HC institutions for degree and short term training including cross-training in other regions;
Short term training in cutting-edge research technologies, analytical tools and in program management,
Support for equipment purchases, research facility improvement, and professional development activities so as to strengthen institutional capacity for research, teaching and outreach.
The Pulse CRSP is implementing a two phase technical program with two award cycles (2.5 years and 2 years) for the initial five-year authorization (September 30, 2007 - September 29, 2012). Projects for funding are selected based through an open competitive proposal process in response to Requests for Proposals issued by the Management Office. The RFP defines the priority topical areas for the projects to be funded during each Phase.
A U.S. university will provide technical and administrative leadership to each Pulse CRSP project and be engaged in collaborative research, training and outreach activities with one or more Host Country institutions. Phase I projects (April 1, 2008 - September 30, 2010) may be considered for funding during Phase II (October 1, 2010 - September 29, 2012) contingent upon acceptable performance, continued relevance and justification, and availability of funding.
Additional funds will be available on a competitive basis to achieve specific program institutional capacity building goals, to address gaps not addressed through the projects, and to stimulate innovation in training approaches.
The Pulse CRSP is administered by a director (Dr. Irvin Widders), deputy director (Dr. Cynthia Donovan), administrative officer (Ben Hassankhani), and communications specialist (Dr. Marguerite Halversen), who staff the management office in partnership with the Office of Contract and Grant Administration at Michigan State University.
Since USAID established a Leader with Associate (LWA) Cooperative Agreement contract with MSU, the Agreement Officer’s Representative (AOR) assigned by USAID to the Pulse CRSP (Larry Beach) will have substantial involvement in the review of implementation plans, approval of key personnel and participate on the key program advisory committee, the Technical Management Advisory Committee (TMAC).
External Advisory Panel (EAP): an advisory panel of experts with no conflicts of interest convened for the review of proposals and the selection of projects for funding.
Announcements & Opportunities
U.S. Borlaug Summer Institute
The U.S. Borlaug Fellows in Global Food Security Program is offering a two-week learning program for graduate students interested in developing a holistic understanding of the conceptual challenges around global food security with a focus on cross-disciplinary problem solving of real-world development challenges. For more information, click here.