On March 24, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) published a request for applications (RFA) for the AFRI Water for Food Production Systems Challenge Area, which is a combination of the Food Security and Water for Agriculture Challenge Areas. This interdisciplinary initiative looks to address the issues of water availability and food production through the strategic management planning and the integration of new technologies. With long-term food security as the objective, projects are “expected to pursue greater savings in water use by realizing the optimal potentials of innovative management strategies and interventions that use appropriate technologies to exploit potential synergies across production systems and competing users.”
USDA requires that potential projects be integrated, including a research component as well as additional extension or education components. Priority will be given to projects which consider the tertiary benefits to wildlife, fish, and pollinator populations. Successful projects must address at least one of the following priority areas:
- “Use of transformative discoveries such as classical/conventional breeding as well as genomics, nanotechnology, sensors, modeling, microbiome manipulation, and data-driven decision tools to develop drought- and flood-tolerant cultivars, intensify food production, improve crop and livestock health, or reduce overall water use across food production systems;
- Innovative ways to sustainably secure and more efficiently use water to produce food given competing resource demands, varying annual and within season availability, and compromised or limited water quality;
- Targeted activities/interventions beyond simple information delivery to overcome barriers, disincentives, and institutional or legal impediments so that more sustainable management practices are adopted and acceptance encouraged;
- Safe use of non-traditional water sources such as agricultural runoff, recycled, treated, produced, and brackish waters as appropriate across food system supply chains, including production, processing, distribution, and consumption, so that total amounts of fresh water used are reduced.”
Award Information: USDA anticipates distributing approximately $34 million for 7 Coordinated Agricultural Projects (CAP) and Strengthening (Food and Agricultural Science Enhancement) CAP awards, with a maximum funding amount of $5.2 million per project. The maximum project duration under this RFA is five years.
Deadlines: The deadline for the submission of Letters of Intent is May 17, 2017. The application deadline is August 2, 2017.
Sources and additional information: https://nifa.usda.gov/sites/default/files/rfa/FY2017_AFRI_Water_for%20Food%20Production%20Systems.pdf