IC-IMPACTS Call for Proposals on Food Security

Purpose of the Call

The primary purpose is to fund early career researchers to a one-year grant to explore collaborative opportunities with their Indian counterparts. The funds are related to developing solutions to our pressing problems of food insecurity. Both Research (STREAM 1) and Demonstration Projects (STREAM 2) will be funded.


IC-IMPACTS

IC-IMPACTS (the India-Canada Centre for Innovative Multidisciplinary Partnerships to Accelerate Community Transformation and Sustainability) is the first Canada-India Research Centre of Excellence established through the Canadian Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE) and dedicated to developing innovative solutions for the challenges faced by communities in Canada and India. Since its launch in 2013, IC-IMPACTS has been working hand-in-hand with a network of innovative researchers, industry leaders, community members and government officials from across India and Canada, to develop community-based solutions in the areas of Public Health, Safe and Sustainable Infrastructure, and Integrated Water Management.


Food Security

Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.[i]

Worldwide, The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that the global number of undernourished increased from 624 million people in 2014 to 688 million in 2019[ii]. To exacerbate the situation, the global food supplies have been severely hit by the COVID-19 Pandemic. This has led to severe and widespread increases in global food insecurity, affecting vulnerable households in almost every country.

In Canada, the prevalence of undernourishment between 2005 and 2019 remained stable at around 2.5 %, while it was estimated that about 39% of the population in India were undernourished and unable to meet the average minimum dietary energy requirement (MDER) in 2011–12 and 14% in 2018[iii],[iv].

Inuit, First Nations, Métis adults across the North experience five to six times higher levels of food insecurity than the Canadian national average according to some studies. Indigenous people living off-reserve are also more than twice as likely to experience hunger and food insecurity compared with non-Indigenous Canadians; 27% of Indigenous Canadians are food insecure compared with 11% of non-Indigenous households[v]. According to Statistics Canada, Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS), 48% of Indigenous households living on reserve and 23% living off reserve face food insecurity, compared to a rate of 8.4% for all households across Canada in 2018[vi].

Unfortunately, India has the “second-highest estimated number of undernourished people in the world” despite its high economic growth and significant improvement in agricultural production. Despite decades of investment to tackle this malaise, India’s child malnutrition rates are still one of the most alarming in the world. The Global Hunger Index (2020) — which is calculated on the basis of total undernourishment of the population, child stunting, wasting and child mortality — places India at the 94th spot among 107 countries[vii].

[i] FAO. (2015). The state of food insecurity in the world 2015. Retrieved from http://www.fao.org/3/a-i4646e.pdf
[ii] World Bank. 2021. Food security and COVID-19. https://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/agriculture/brief/food-security-and-covid-19 (Accessed June 22, 2021)
[iii] Vikas Rawal, V., V. Bansal, P. Bansal. 2019. Prevalence of Undernourishment in Indian States Explorations Based on NSS 68th Round Data. Economic & Political Weekly Vol lIV no 15: 35-45
[iv] World Bank. 2021. Prevalence of undernourishment (% of population). https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SN.ITK.DEFC.ZS (Accessed June 22, 2021)
[v] Tarasuk V. Household food insecurity in Canada. Top Clin Nutr. 2005;20(4):299–312
[vi] HRW. 2020. My Fear is Losing Everything: The Climate Crisis and First Nations’ Right to Food in Canada: https://www.hrw.org/report/2020/10/21/my-fear-losing-everything/climate-crisis-and-first-nations-right-food-canada (Accessed June 22, 2021)
[vii] https://www.downtoearth.org.in/blog/health/child-malnutrition-in-india-a-systemic-failure-76507


Details of the Call

Project proposals are invited from early career Canadian researchers who have innovative ideas towards developing solutions to our pressing problems of food insecurity. We envisage TWO streams:

STREAM 1: Exploratory Research Projects

In this Stream, funding will be provided to early career Canadian PIs to engage with Indian teams with the purposes of developing solutions to our pressing problems of food insecurity. These solutions may entail one or more of the following methods:

  1. Reduce food waste: Especially when food is wasted due to lack of storage capacity, lack of transportation infrastructure, logistics and/or poor refrigeration.
  2. Consider the impacts of trade policy on food security with respect to region, sector, etc. Identify problems as well as suggestions for improvement.
  3. Improve infrastructure in the country including water and waste water infrastructure.
  4. Promote diversification in crops and promote crops that require minimal water use.
  5. Enhance yield and close the yield gap via soil management, crop research and precision farming. Also improve yield via vertical farming using controlled-environment agriculture.
  6. Minimizing the impact of Climate Change.
  7. Any other.

 

STREAM 2: Deployment of Climate-Smart Agritech Models that Enhance Food Security

In STREAM 2, we solicit Demonstration Projects that deploy solutions in communities with proven effectiveness to improve food resilience. These may be novel sensors for precision farming, novel seed varieties, novel fertilizers that improve the crop yield, novel methods of irrigation, etc.

Projects with higher Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) can apply under this stream. Projects with models or techniques/ technologies already developed by researchers in the Canada-India space, with previous funding from IC-IMPACTS, would be prioritized. The prototypes may be placed in either a Canadian community or an Indian community. Of particular interest, are projects that would collaborate with First Nation, Métis, or Inuit communities.

The application in this stream should clearly demonstrate the following:

  1. Knowledge and technology transfer: Proposed projects with technologies to be deployed in real world conditions in India or Canada should clearly demonstrate technology transfer to communities in both environmental settings.
  1. Technology demonstration and product adaptation: A unique and innovative technology to be adapted by the community, providing a solution to an existing problem, meeting local regulations, different market price-points, unique community requirements;
  1. Validation: Validation of the research in the field, within a community context. Also validating factors such as functionality, performances, quality, usability and community uptake potential;
  1. Replication and scalability: Proof of scalability and transferability to different settings, parameters to assess scalability and reliability. Symmetrical projects that take the technology to the partner country are of particular interest (i.e. first demonstrated in Canada, then in India or vice versa).

Eligibility

Projects must show excellence in research and have the following additional elements:

FOR STREAM 1:

  • A Canadian PI (applicant). The project must also identify an Indian university collaborating PI. Since this is an exploratory grant, this is an opportunity for the Canadian team to start developing linkages with Indian teams.
  • HQP involvement (graduate students, postdocs or research associates).

FOR STREAM 2:

  • In addition to those mentioned above, must also include an industry partner either from Canada or from India.
  • Include a support letter from the industry partner, stating their commitment to the project by providing in-kind support.
  • Cash support from the industry partner is strongly recommended but not mandatory
  • A support letter from the community or demonstration site where technology will be installed.
  • Be tailored to meet the needs of the market within which deployment is taking place to ensure successful uptake (i.e. complexity, maintenance and price-point).

Project Timeline & Budget Parameters

IC-IMPACTS is seeking innovative proposals that may have a duration of 12 months with a budget of up to $25,000. The budget parameters consist primarily of costs related to training of HQP, travel costs for deployment and testing activities. HQP training and engagement is a requirement on all IC-IMPACTS projects, therefore, applicants will need to demonstrate their commitment to this matter. If the demonstration project (Stream 2) provides an opportunity to increase HQP participation in the execution of the deployment within the community, an additional $10,000 can be requested.


Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI)

IC-IMPACTS is committed to supporting underrepresented and marginalized groups, hence, proposals should demonstrate compliance with the principals of equity, diversity, and inclusion. Women and under-represented groups, from marginalized populations including but not limited to, groups excluded due to race, gender and gender identity, sexual orientation, age and physical ability are strongly encouraged to apply. Identifying as any of the aforementioned groups is optional.


Deliverables

FOR STREAM 1 REPORTING:

  • Initial research findings
  • Impact on HQP (participation, skills acquisition, employment)
  • Knowledge transfer, exchange, and dissemination
  • Participation of under-represented groups
  • Recommendations

 

FOR STEAM 2 REPORTING:

In addition to items mentioned above, must also include:

  • Details on the deployment (including drawings, sketches or photos if applicable)
  • Partner involvement and international collaborations

Further Information

The deadline for this Call is October 31, 2021.
For any questions regarding this funding opportunity, please contact: info@ic-impacts.com


Submission Requirements

Please submit one PDF file containing:

  1. Application Form
  2. Budget Form – Canadian Funding
  3. Budget Form – Indian Budget (Note: this is for information purposes only. IC-IMPACTS will not be funding the Indian component of the project).
  4. CVs of all research team members
  5. Letter(s) of support from industry and/or appropriate other partner(s)
  6. Letter(s) of support from community or testing site partner(s)
  7. IP Agreement between collaborating partners and researchers

 

Canadian scientists must also include the following:

  1. Conflict of Interest Form
  2. Consent to Disclosure Form
  3. Appendix A – Acknowledgement to Network Agreement Form
  4. Investigator Environmental Impact Assessment Form
  5. Approval from University’s Office of Research Services

 

Please submit your application through:  IC-IMPACTS Submission Portal