Call for Research Proposals in Agriculture Biotechnology (3 July to 3 August, 2020)

The National Commission for Science and Technology (NCST) of the Republic of Malawi and the Research Council of Zimbabwe (RCZ) are participating in Phase Two of the Science Granting Councils Initiative (SGCI). This continuation builds on Phase One’s SGCI objective of seeking to strengthen the capacities of Science Granting Councils (SGCs) in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) to support research and evidence-based policies that will contribute to socio-economic development.
During this phase, NCST and RCZ as SGCs from Malawi and Zimbabwe respectively, will jointly administer a Grant aimed at strengthening Management of Research Competitions and Research on Emerging Technologies and Development in Malawi and Zimbabwe. The Grant will be used to support and manage research in Agricultural Biotechnology conducted in both Malawi and Zimbabwe under the auspices of the SGCI. The Initiative is jointly funded by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC), South Africa’s National Research Foundation (NRF), and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).


The transition to knowledge-based economies has put the role of knowledge at the pinnacle of trade, investments, manufacturing and socio-economic development. In that regard, the contribution of the knowledge generating organisations, their linkages with the private sector and the potential for knowledge exchange and technology transfer has become central.

Recognising the importance of Agricultural Biotechnology to both Malawi and Zimbabwe and in order to promote the co-creation and exchange of knowledge to boost agricultural productivity in the two countries, the NCST and RCZ have instituted a Collaborative Research Grant in Agricultural Biotechnology. The Grant, in both Malawi and Zimbabwe, has been established with co-funding between the SGCI on one hand and NCST and RCZ on the other hand with the aim of supporting research projects in Agricultural Biotechnology as one of the identified National Research Priority Areas in the two countries.


Researchers in the area of Agriculture Biotechnology in the two countries will collaborate to prepare joint research proposals focusing specifically on either Plant Biotechnology with respect to Crops or/and Animal Biotechnology with focus on Livestock. The SGCI, NCST and RCZ will, therefore, co-fund demand-led, collaborative research projects that address issues of relevance in the area of Agricultural Biotechnology. Project proposals submitted under this call may include, but are not limited to, the following research areas:

  • Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience – Cotton Mealybug, Fall Army Worm and Large Grain Borer;
  • Breeding and Genetics –Multi-disciplinary in nature (Fish Breeding, Artificial Insemination and Molecular Breeding included);
  • Nutrition Research – (Soil Health, Fodder/ Pasture Research included); and
  • Microbial Research


It is expected that interventions of the projects will improve co-creation and exchange of knowledge to boost agricultural productivity in Malawi and Zimbabwe. Projects should also aim within their proposed duration to enhance the capacity of researchers in areas including biosafety and biotechnology research analysis skills.


The budget limit for project activities in the proposal will be not more than MK22,560,000 for the research team in Malawi and budget limit for project activities for the research team in Zimbabwe will be USD30 000. This means that a budget for one joint proposal will have two components: Budget for project activities for the research team in Malawi and a budget for project activities for the research team in Zimbabwe. Collaborative research projects will be implemented for a period not exceeding twenty-six (26) months. Permissible budget items include the following:

  • Materials costs, if they are directly linked to the research project, in particular material of enduring value, the cost of expendable items, field expenses, travel expenses or third party charges.
  • Direct costs incurred through the use of research infrastructure linked to the research.
  • Costs of organising conferences and workshops in connection with the funded research.
  • Costs of national and international cooperation and networking activities directly associated with the funded research.

Note:   Salaries of applicants are not eligible costs.


Each proposal must have at least one Principal Investigator as a main applicant based in Malawi and one Principal Investigator as a main applicant based in Zimbabwe. These are the Principal Investigators on the Malawian and Zimbabwean sides, respectively. The Principal Investigators will bear the overall responsibility for the project, including its technical and administrative co-ordination as well as the timely delivery of scientific and financial reports.

Applications are open to bona fide researchers from public research and higher learning institutions in both Malawi and Zimbabwe. Researchers from the Private Sector and Non-profit Organisations registered in Malawi and Zimbabwe are eligible to apply but in collaboration with researchers in public research and higher learning institutions in both Malawi and Zimbabwe.

Support letters from the Malawi and Zimbabwe host institutions of the Principal Investigators are a prerequisite. Proposals without institutional approval through support letters will not be considered.

Application guidelines are available on  and on for eligibility and other application requirements.


NCST and RCZ particularly encourage collaborative research projects across institutions, disciplines and individuals. The following should be taken into consideration.

i) Proposals should be well presented meeting known scientific and commercialisation potential criteria.

ii) The management structure should be well defined as well as a clear sustainability plan.

iii) Applicants should “make the case”, i.e. to explain the steps that led to the proposed research concept and focus.

iv) Demonstrate the strategic value of the research to Malawi and Zimbabwe and the Region.

v) Demonstrate commercialisation potential, research capacity building and a description of how gender and diversity will be included in the implementation of proposed projects.

vi) Budget should not be inflated and/or expenses should be adequately justified.

vii) Applicants should declare originality of their work and sign off to confirm ownership.


i) The full proposals should be submitted electronically to both and with a copy to  and  at NCST and a copy to  and at RCZ with the subject heading: “Full Proposal in Agricultural Biotechnology Research” clearly specified.

ii) All proposals must be submitted in the prescribed template and will be reviewed based on their quality and merit. A full proposal template is downloadable on and on

iii) All documents (full research proposal, annexes, etc.) have to be submitted in both PDF and MS Word files, using 1.5 spacing and font size 12 Times New Roman.

iv) Applicants will be required to submit full proposals which will be screened for completeness by both NCST and RCZ before a rigorous confidential review by an independent panel of experts.

v) The evaluation and selection of proposals will comprise verification of the proposal eligibility, short listing of reviewed research proposals and communication of the review outcomes to applicants by 30 September 2020.

vi) All proposals will be received and processed in confidentiality and with complete acknowledgment of Intellectual Property Rights of the proponents.

vii) NCST and RCZ’s decisions will be final.


Monday, 3 August 2020 at 16:30 Central Africa Time.


Any enquiries from Malawi researchers should be directed to  and while enquiries from Zimbabwe researchers should be sent to and .