Increasing Climate Resilience in Crops, Request for Application

Open Opportunity

Grants Management Team

Now Reviewing

  • Full Application Open: September 16, 2020 at 12:00pm ET
  • Full Applications Due: November 11, 2020 at 5:00 PM ET
  • Award Notification: Summer 2021
  • Anticipated Project Start Date: Summer 2021

All applicants must make a minimum request of $250,000.

We anticipate funding up to two meritorious applications.

Application Reviewers can visit here for review questions.

About the Increasing Climate Resilience in Crops Program

Scientists predict that climate change will lead to higher temperatures and greater temperature variability. These changes can decrease crop productivity, harm farmers’ livelihoods and threaten food security.

We must invest in solutions that allow crops to thrive despite temperatures changes and other environmental stresses.

Our Increasing Climate Resilience in Crops Program is a competitive research program to enhance plants’ resilience to climate change in a profitable, sustainable manner. This program aims to develop critical solutions to increase the sustainable production of nutritious food. We seek research applications that increase the basal or acquired thermotolerance of crop plants.

This funding opportunity is specifically focusing on solutions applicable to one or more of the following crops: banana, cassava, chickpea, common bean, cowpea, groundnut, maize, millet, rice, sweet potato, sorghum, wheat and yam. We will consider research on other plants if the proposed research is transferable to the preferred crops. However, solutions that only apply to agricultural systems in high-income countries or involving new crop domestication will not be considered.

Research topics covered by this initiative include solutions that:

  • Quantify the specific features of climate-driven temperature change that impact crop plants. Approaches may include development or improvement of biophysical crop simulation/predictive models;
  • Address higher temperatures in day and/or night periods;
  • Address increased temperature variability;
  • Could be applied in crop genetic improvement programs;
  • Address the challenges of phenotyping for variation in thermotolerance, including the impact of acclimation;
  • Address temperature response in crop plants, including molecular, enzymatic, physiological and/or genetic approaches;
  • Develop solutions in model plant systems that can be applied to one or more of the specified crops;
  • Apply to agricultural systems in low-income countries.
Am I eligible to apply?

The Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research welcomes applications from institutions of Higher Education, non-profit and for-profit organizations, government-affiliated researchers and domestic and international organizations.

Any individual(s) with the skills, knowledge and resources necessary to carry out the proposed research as Program Director(s)/Principal Investigator(s) is invited to work with his/her organization to develop an application for support.

Do I need to provide matching funds?

No, matching funds are not required for this program. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation provided matching funding for this program.

What should I include in my application?

Applicants are required complete the online application form. The uploaded application should be formatted using Calibri or Times New Roman, 11pt font, single spaced, 1-inch margins. Figures may be included as a separate file.

To view the application, please download the application template. Note that all applications must be submitted through FFAR’s Grant Management System to be evaluated.

Full Application Components

Required components

  • Project title (up to 250 characters)
  • Proposed budget
    • Total FFAR request
    • Total optional matching funds
    • Total proposed budget (FFAR funds + Optional Matching Funds)
  • Key Personnel
  • Public abstract (up to 500 words)
  • Project Executive Summary (up to 1,000 words)
  • Project Description (up to 1,665 words)
  • Innovation to be developed or accelerated (up to 665 words).
  • Goals and objectives (by yearup to 1,000 words)
  • Anticipated outcomes or outputs (up to 1,000 words)
  • Budget justification (up to 1,330 words)
  • Data Management Plan (up to 500 words)
  • Barriers to adoption of your research outcome(s) (Note: Collaboration on this issue with socio-economic scientists is highly encouraged.) (up to 665 words)
  • Organization Assurances
    • Research involving human subjects
    • Research involving vertebrate animals
    • Research involving Recombinant DNA
    • Research involving National Security implications
    • Research involving hazardous materials
    • Research involving human fetal tissue
    • Research involving NEPA review


  • Required Attachments
    • Budget Form
    • Principal Investigator (PI) and Key Personnel Biosketch: three-page limit per individual listed as PI or key personnel in the project
    • Current and Pending Support Online Form: complete for everyone listed as PI or Key personnel on the project
    • Project timeline (by year)
    • References cited
    • 5-slide summary/description of project
  • Optional attachments to support project description: This section should not be used to circumvent the page/word limit for the Research Program Plan Section.
    • Letters of Support: Applicants may provide letters of institutional, collaborator, or stakeholder support for the proposed project, especially from matching funders. Please combine all letters of support into a single PDF document before uploading as an attachment.
    • Graphics, Figures, Equations and Tables: The textbox for the Research Program Plan does not support equations, tables, graphics and figures. Applicants may upload a PDF document with graphics, figures, tables, or a list of equations to support the research program plan. Five-page limit.
Are there any past RFAs I can reference as I put together my application?

Yes. You are encouraged to consult our sample application when preparing your submission.

How do I submit my application?

Applications must be submitted through FFAR’s Grant Management System. If you are a new user, register for an account by clicking the green “Register” button at the top right corner of the home page. You will receive a confirmation email to activate your account before you can sign-in to your account. Once you log in, click on the corresponding program to start your application.

Only applications submitted through FFAR’s Grant Management System will be considered eligible for evaluation. FFAR will not accept applications submitted by any other medium. There is a two-hour grace period for all deadlines. Applications that are not submitted by the deadline or within the grace period will not be accepted. To be fair to all our applicants, FFAR cannot grant an extension to applicants who missed the deadlines posted in the Key Dates section.

What can I expect in the review process?

Applications will be reviewed using FFAR’s two- stage peer review process: (1) External Peer Review and (2) Next Generation Crops Advisory Council and funders review. In the first review stage, applications will be evaluated by an independent, external peer review panel of scientific experts using the application review criteria below. In the second review stage, applications judged to be most meritorious by external peer review panels will be evaluated and recommended for funding by the Next Generation Crops Advisory Council and the program funders based for best fit with the program priorities. All reviewers are required to read and acknowledge acceptance of FFAR’s Conflict of Interest Policy and Non-Disclosure Agreement. We make reasonable efforts to ensure that applications are not assigned to reviewers with a real or apparent conflict with the applicant or project personnel. Reviewers with a conflict of interest are recused from evaluating or participating in the discussions of applications with which they have a conflict. Each stage of the review is conducted confidentially and as such, FFAR is responsible for protecting the confidentiality of the contents of the applications. FFAR’s Executive Director will approve each grant award.

What are the review criteria?

Full applications are evaluated based on scored primary review criteria. The bullets under each criterion may serve as a guideline to applicants when writing their applications and as a guideline to reviewers on what to consider when judging applications. The bullets are illustrative and not intended to be comprehensive. Reviewers will evaluate and score each primary criterion and subsequently assign a global score that reflects an overall assessment of the application. The overall assessment will not be an average score of the individual criterions; rather, it will reflect the reviewers’ overall impression of the application. Evaluation of the scientific merit of each application is within the sole discretion of the peer reviewers and they may raise additional factors to consider that are not covered in the bullets for each criterion.

Primary Review Criteria

Primary criteria will evaluate the scientific merit and potential impact of the proposed project. Concerns with any of these criteria potentially indicate a major flaw in the significance and/or design of the proposed work. Examples of primary review criteria are: Novelty, Innovation and Originality; Feasibility; Impact and Outcome.

Novelty, Innovation and Originality (50 percent)

  • Does the application adequately discuss the applicability of the proposed solution to the challenge posed by the RFA?
  • Has the applicant addressed how the research would increase thermotolerance in crops?
  • Has the applicant demonstrated that this research has not been done elsewhere and that this research accelerates the development of climate resilience that would be applicable to one or more of the preferred crop species?

Feasibility (30 percent)

  • Are the aims and objectives of the proposed project outlined clearly?
  • Are the methods outlined to achieve the project’s aims feasible?
  • Are the methods appropriate?
  • Does the research team have the necessary personnel, qualifications and effort levels to complete the proposed research?
  • Are the timeline and budget appropriate for the proposed work?
  • Did the applicant identify potential risks to successfully complete the research goals/objectives and propose to address them?
  • Is the data and results management plan outlined by the applicant adequate?

Impact and Outcome (20 percent)

  • Did the research team outline tangible outcomes and potential downstream implications of this project?
  • Will the research be applicable to both low- and high-income agricultural systems?
  • Is the proposed research well suited for sustainable agriculture?
  • Will it have value to human nutrition?
  • Will the applicant train the next generation of food and agriculture research scientists and if so, how?
What happens after the opportunity is awarded?

After a grant is conferred, the grantee shall provide an annual financial report to FFAR showing grant expenditures to date. The grantee shall also provide an annual progress report to FFAR showing activities being carried out under the grant, including but not limited to project accomplishments to date and grant expenditures. Within 30 days of completion of all grant activities, the grantee shall provide a final progress report. The final progress report should address the original objectives of the project as identified in the application, describe any changes in objectives, describe the final project accomplishments and include a final project accounting of all grant funds.

Scientific Integrity

FFAR’s ability to pursue its mission to build unique partnerships to support innovative science addressing today’s food and agriculture challenges depends on the integrity of the science on which it relies. A fundamental purpose of FFAR is to facilitate the advancement of knowledge and the application of the science to address challenges relevant to the FFAR’s mission. All FFAR grants must be conducted with the highest standards of scientific integrity.

Grant Terms and Conditions

The Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research expects applicants to review the Foundations’ Sample Grant Agreement prior to applying to ensure that the applicants are aware of the applicable terms under which the grant is offered. FFAR will only entertain potential modifications to the Grant Agreement under the most exceptional circumstances. Successful applicants are strongly encouraged to sign the Grant Agreement as presented.

Subscribe to our newsletter for the latest updates.