Sustainable Intensification in Africa

African and European agriculture share the common challenge of moving towards more sustainable ways of agricultural production. Both regions aim to ensure food production and reduce the environmental impact of agricultural activities in the face of climate change, more unpredictable water supply and increased degradation of (land) resources. Systems approaches are needed to optimise agricultural productivity as well as the delivery of ecosystem services.


A. [2019]: African Farming Systems, sustainable intensification pathways (RIA)

Activities shall seek to implement and test systems approaches for the sustainable intensification of primary production in Africa, taking into account its long term economic support to local communities. The proposed research should address the improvement of agricultural practices by tackling land and water management (including land degradation where appropriate) plant protection and pest control (including integrated pest management) and sustainable soil management (including its quality and nutrients uptake) for sustainable intensification. The importance of traditional agricultural practices like grazing methods, livestock, crops and legumes should be duly reflected. Emphasis should be given to farming systems that support restoration of land, increase land productivity and/or bring land back into production. Proper attention should be given to the importance of gender in African agricultural production.

For proper analysis, a range of different systems should be included (e.g. organic farming, agroecology, agroforestry). While presenting results the importance of scale of the analysis and its applicability should be taken into account. The analysed systems should include socio-economic aspects, analyse its resilience to climate change, farm income and where pertinent also cultural aspects of farming. Preference will be given to proposals focusing on specific regions of Africa.

Proposals fall under the concept of the ‘multi-actor approach’. Proposals should include a task to cluster with other projects financed under the topic and with the cooperation platform established under SFS-33-2018.

B.[2019]: Soil system for Africa (RIA)

For the implementation of the EU-Africa R&I Partnership on FNSSA a comparable and open database on agricultural soils information is needed. It is expected that a minimum of 20 000 sampling points will be sufficient to create a database with standard soil properties (a similar procedure to the one used for LUCAS - European database - should be developed).

The soil samples will only be taken from the agricultural land and analysed by one laboratory for the: physical and chemical parameters. As a minimum the following parameters should be analysed: particle size (clay, silt and sand content), pH (acidity and alkalinity), organic carbon, carbonate content, phosphorus content, total nitrogen content and extractable potassium content. In addition an analysis of heavy metal content and other chemical residues in selected sub-samples might be proposed in order to assess the risk of soil contamination. Based on the analysed samples a set of indicators for monitoring of state of land soil, water and ecosystem should be proposed. Other physical, chemical and biological parameters for soil test might be proposed along with the specific indicators for which they will be used. The indicators should be developed as a part of the long-term implementation of FNSSA and its contribution to the SDGs discussion. Presentation of data should be provided in an open data and map viewer and should include four aspect pictures of where the soil sample was taken and should link with open earth data from e.g. the Copernicus programme and the project funded under H2020 topic SFS-43-2017. It is expected that the open database will contain at least a minimum of 20 000 soil sample analysed by one laboratory. The final methodology should be developed in cooperation with and validated by the Joint Research Centre and the Global Soil Partnership – ITPS African members.

Proposals should include a task to cluster with other projects financed under the topic and with the cooperation platform established under SFS-33-2018.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution form the EU of up to EUR 7.5 million for sub-topic A and EUR 5 million for sub-topic B would allow this specific challenge to be addressed properly. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected Impact

In the short to medium term:

  • Boost the impact of Africa-EU joint research at local level by addressing the entire value-chain, strengthening capacity-building and focusing on demonstration projects and pilot actions to bring research and innovation results to the users (sub-topic A);
  • Provide simple tools and solutions for preserving and increasing natural resources of specific agro-system (sub-topic A);
  • Identification of methods and tools for improving soil condition for water retention, increase in nutrient and organic matter (sub-topic A);
  • Proposed methods and solutions for different farming systems should include potential of transferability and scale at which solution can be implemented (sub-topic A).
  • Solutions and tools for increasing farm income within sustainability of long term farming (sub-topic A);
  • Based on the soil sample analysis, provide a set of key indicators for soil assessment in Africa (sub-topic B).

In the long term: for sub-topic A - improve agricultural production potential and income of farmers and for sub-topic B- provide an open soil dataset with a set of key indicators with methodology for which soil samples and the time line of indicators can be independently repeated in support of monitoring of soil and land degradation. The set of indicators should as much as possible support the relevant SDGs implementation discussion.

Delegation Exception Footnote

It is expected that this topic will continue in 2020

Cross-cutting Priorities

  • Gender
  • Socio-economic science and humanities
  • International cooperation
  • RRI
Application date
Social sciences : Economy, Environmental Sciences, Geography, International Relations, Pedagogic & Education Research
Humanities : Anthropology & Ethnology