Six projects awarded funding to help make agriculture sustainable in Colombia

26 April 2018

Six projects have been awarded funding to enhance sustainable agriculture in Colombia. The projects have been awarded funding as part of the Sustainable Tropical Agricultural Systems programme, which aims to ensure reliable and sustainable food provision for Colombia.

The awards, totalling £700,000, are being made to maximise food security through the Newton-Caldas Fund following a successful project scoping workshop hosted by the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) at their Colombia headquarters.

This will be achieved by improving human and farmed animal nutrition, and increasing the resilience and sustainability of crops and livestock. The programme brings together biological, environmental, economic and social science disciplines to form interdisciplinary collaborative projects.

These six pump-priming projects are the first phase of the programme, with the second phase of funding building on successful awards for two-year extension projects. The programme also builds on the Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council's (BBSRC) past investment of £1 million to support CIAT's Future Seeds Infrastructure. BBSRC, the Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC) and NERC have awarded just over £700,000 in phase one, to support UK research organisations. Research in Colombia has been funded by CIAT.

BBSRC Deputy Chief Executive Steve Visscher said:

"These important projects build upon previous investments to maximise food and nutritional security in Colombia and will bring together world class researchers. Together they will be working to address biological, environmental, economic and social challenges and will further strengthen links between the UK and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture."

CIAT Director General Ruben G Echeverría said:

"Improving the resilience of agricultural systems with tropical forages and pulses will be key in creating sustainable food systems in Colombia. These six innovative research projects will not only enhance economic development, social welfare and livelihoods in this country, but also offer a great potential for global application."

The six phase one projects that have been funded are:

  • Towards climate-smart forage-based diets for Colombian livestock - Dr Jon Moorby, IBERS

  • Bean breeding and adoption in changing climates in post-conflict Colombia - Professor Andy Challinor, University of Leeds

  • Exploiting biodiversity in Brachiaria and Panicum tropical forage grasses using forward and reverse genetics to improve livelihoods and sustainability - Professor Pat Heslop-Harrison, University of Leicester

  • Towards BIO-smart livestock farming in Colombia: cultural landscapes, silvopastoral systems and biodiversity - Dr Maria Escobar-Tello, University of Bristol

  • Physiological characterisation of heat-tolerant bean genotypes in simulated future environments - Professor Donal O'Sullivan, University of Reading

  • Advancing sustainable forage-based livestock production systems using multi-source remote sensing and social science approaches - Dr Brian Barrett, University of Glasgow