Research & Innovation - Participant Portal


TOPIC : Sustainable Intensification in Africa

Topic identifier: SFS-35-2019-2020
Publication date: 27 October 2017

Types of action: RIA Research and Innovation action
Opening date:
16 October 2018
2nd stage Deadline:
23 January 2019 17:00:00
04 September 2019 17:00:00

Time Zone : (Brussels time)
  Horizon 2020 H2020 website
Pillar: Societal Challenges
Work Programme Year: H2020-2018-2020
Topic Description
Specific Challenge:

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’[1]. 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[2] - 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[3]. 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:

Socio-economic science and humanities
International cooperation

[1]See definition of the 'multi-actor approach' in the introduction to this Work Programme part.

[2]Number of publications related to LUCAS soil component can be found under the following link:


Topic conditions and documents

1. Eligible countries: described in Annex A of the Work Programme.
A number of non-EU/non-Associated Countries that are not automatically eligible for funding have made specific provisions for making funding available for their participants in Horizon 2020 projects. See the information in the Online Manual.


2. Eligibility and admissibility conditions: described in Annex B and Annex C of the Work Programme.


Sub-topic A: Due to the specific challenge of this topic, in addition to the minimum number of participants set out in the General Annexes, proposals shall include at least five participants from specific region of Africa (as defined by the African Union) and a minimum of eight participants from Africa.

Sub-topic B: Due to the specific challenge of this topic, in addition to the minimum number of participants set out in the General Annexes, proposals shall include at least eight participants from Africa. Due to logistics the laboratory for soil sample analysis should be located on the African continent.

Grants will be awarded to proposals according to the ranking list. However, in order to ensure a balanced portfolio of supported actions, at least the highest-ranked proposal per sub-topic will be funded provided that it attains all thresholds.

Proposal page limits and layout: please refer to Part B of the proposal template in the submission system below.


3. Evaluation:

  • Evaluation criteria, scoring and thresholds are described in Annex H of the Work Programme.
  • Submission and evaluation processes are described in the Online Manual.

4. Indicative time for evaluation and grant agreements:

Information on the outcome of evaluation (two-stage call):
For stage 1: maximum 3 months from the deadline for submission.
For stage 2: maximum 5 months from the deadline for submission.
Signature of grant agreements: maximum 8 months from the deadline for submission.

5. Proposal templates, evaluation forms and model grant agreements (MGA):

Research and Innovation Action:

Specific provisions and funding rates
Standard proposal template
Standard evaluation form
General MGA - Multi-Beneficiary
Annotated Grant Agreement

6. Additional provisions:

Horizon 2020 budget flexibility
Classified information
Technology readiness levels (TRL) – where a topic description refers to TRL, these definitions apply

Members of consortium are required to conclude a consortium agreement, in principle prior to the signature of the grant agreement.

8. Additional documents:

1. Introduction WP 2018-20
9. Food security, sustainable agriculture and forestry, marine and maritime and inland water research and the bioeconomy WP 2018-20
18. Dissemination, Exploitation and Evaluation WP 2018-20

General annexes to the Work Programme 2018-2020

Legal basis: Horizon 2020 Regulation of Establishment
Legal basis: Horizon 2020 Rules for Participation
Legal basis: Horizon 2020 Specific Programme

7. Open access must be granted to all scientific publications resulting from Horizon 2020 actions.

Where relevant, proposals should also provide information on how the participants will manage the research data generated and/or collected during the project, such as details on what types of data the project will generate, whether and how this data will be exploited or made accessible for verification and re-use, and how it will be curated and preserved.

Open access to research data
The Open Research Data Pilot has been extended to cover all Horizon 2020 topics for which the submission is opened on 26 July 2016 or later. Projects funded under this topic will therefore by default provide open access to the research data they generate, except if they decide to opt-out under the conditions described in Annex L of the Work Programme. Projects can opt-out at any stage, that is both before and after the grant signature.

Note that the evaluation phase proposals will not be evaluated more favourably because they plan to open or share their data, and will not be penalised for opting out.

Open research data sharing applies to the data needed to validate the results presented in scientific publications. Additionally, projects can choose to make other data available open access and need to describe their approach in a Data Management Plan.

Projects need to create a Data Management Plan (DMP), except if they opt-out of making their research data open access. A first version of the DMP must be provided as an early deliverable within six months of the project and should be updated during the project as appropriate. The Commission already provides guidance documents, including a template for DMPs. See the Online Manual.

Eligibility of costs: costs related to data management and data sharing are eligible for reimbursement during the project duration.

The legal requirements for projects participating in this pilot are in the article 29.3 of the Model Grant Agreement.


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