Legume Scholars Program Launched
Submissions Due By December 19, 2014
By 2050 the world will need to feed two billion additional people. A challenge this serious requires the best and brightest ideas in agricultural science. Want to help feed the future? Consider applying for a Graduate Fellowship from the Legume Scholars Program.
Announcing a new partnership between the CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes and USAID’s Feed the Future Innovation Labs for Collaborative Research on Grain Legumes (Legume Innovation Lab) and Peanut Productivity and Mycotoxin Control (Peanut & Mycotoxin Innovation Lab).
This new program is specifically targeting promising young scientists from developing countries committed to pursuing research careers involving legume crops. Graduates from the program will further strengthen the research capacity of institutions in their home countries committed to the growth and development of the legume sectors through scientific inquiry.
Legumes—especially grain legumes—are critical crops in developing countries. They are nutrient dense, staple foods that help ensure food and nutritional security while providing needed household income for smallholder farmers, a majority of whom are women, who are the principle producers of grain legumes in many regions of the world.
Accepted students will conduct research at major U.S. and other international universities in key areas, including agriculture economics, crop physiology, food science, gender studies, nutrition, plant breeding and genetics, plant protection, soil science, and the social sciences.
The Fellowship provides full tuition and living expenses for up to two years for an M.Sc. and up to four years for a Ph.D. program; medical coverage; airfare and related travel expenses; a personal computer; field and lab research opportunities; and professional development workshops.
The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Grain Legumes (Legume Innovation Lab) is a four and a half year research and capacity building program (2013–2017) funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) that focuses on edible grain legumes, including common bean, cowpea, pigeon pea, and lima bean, among others. The program builds upon the scientific advances and technological achievements of the Bean/Cowpea and Dry Grain Pulses CRSPs while responding to the agriculture development priorities and objectives set forth in USAID’s Feed the Future (FTF) Presidential Initiative in FTF focus countries and regions.
Because growth in the agricultural sector has proven highly effective in reducing long-term poverty, Feed the Future’s research strategy focuses on helping developing countries cultivate and strengthen their own agricultural sectors to improve food security and increase economic opportunities and incomes for smallholder farmers, many of whom are women providing directly for their households. Feed the Future’s goals emphasize the use of scientific knowledge and innovation to ensure smallholder farmers sustainably increase food production, can adapt to climate change, and can access and use transformative technologies and innovations.
The Legume Innovation Lab is strategically positioned to fully support and to contribute to FTF objectives and research goals. Legumes are a nutrient-dense staple crop that has multifunctional roles in smallholder farm systems in developing countries, including food and nutrition security, generating needed income, and contributing to the sustainability of farm systems. The strength of the Legume Innovation Lab’s research strategy lies in its an innovative and vibrant research, technology dissemination, and capacity building strategies that not only build upon the technical advances achieved during its previous award periods but its ongoing commitment to exploiting opportunities to make substantial new technological gains to improve the cropping systems for legumes in developing countries.
The strategic objectives of the Legume Innovation Lab include:
- Increasing legume productivity
- Improving legume value chains through better management decision making among smallholder farmers and local governments
- Enhancing nutrition, especially among the most vulnerable populations—women and children
- Improving gut health, including the ability to absorb nutrients from food, through the consumption of grain legumes
- Improving outcomes research and capacity building in the countries they’re partnered with to ensure the long-term effectiveness of the program
To fulfill these objectives, the Legume Innovation Lab will continue to focus on such strategic areas as genetic enhancement, marker-assisted selection, root biology, pest and disease management, sustainable community livelihoods, clinical and community nutrition, gender, communication science, value-chain research, and market development.
Through collaborative projects with scientists at research-intensive agricultural universities, nongovernmental organizations, and private sector partners, Legume Innovation Lab scientists will develop technologies and generate knowledge to reduce the yield gap in legume cropping systems, help develop legume value chains in developing countries, accelerate research on disease and pest management in legume crops, and maximize the potential for development outcomes and benefits to stakeholders in developing countries. (For details on these and other research goals and activities, please explore our full website.)
Our new name reflects a renewed commitment to integrating program strengths with Feed the Future goals as well as recommendations from the Technical Management Advisory Committee (TMAC) and the External Evaluation Team (EET) commissioned by USAID. Expanded partnerships and coordinated activities with the CGIAR (Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research) through the CRP3.5 on Grain Legumes and Africa RISING in areas where the Legume Innovation Lab has comparative strength and ongoing collaborative efforts will also play a significant role in the Legume Innovation Lab.
FTF Newsletter Features Legume Innovation Lab Project
USAID’s Feed the Future Newsletter featured a Legume Innovation Lab project, IPM-omics: Scalable and sustainable solutions for pest management of insect pests of cowpea in Africa, in October 2014. Situated at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, the project’s work is in West Africa, specifically, Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, and Niger. Part of the project’s many objectives involves teaching smallholder farmers some of the pest management techniques. To advance this goal, the project team developed a series of animated educational videos that can be downloaded and viewed on cell phones. Using voice-over technology, the same easy-to-understand video content can be used throughout countries and regions by simply changing the narrative language.
Legume Innovation Lab Launches Facebook Page
The Legume Innovation Lab is on Facebook. Please “like” our page here to receive updates and stories on legume research.
Legume Innovation Lab on Twitter
The Legume Innovation Lab has launched a Twitter account named Legume InnovationLab. Follow our feed to receive the latest updates on the Lab and research and development work related to the legume sector.