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Six projects awarded funding to help make agriculture sustainable in Colombia

Copyright: Neil Palmer, CIAT

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 2-year extension projects. The programme also builds on BBSRC’s past investment of £1 million to support CIAT’s Future Seeds Infrastructure.

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) have awarded just over £700,000 in phase 1, 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 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:

  1. Towards climate-smart forage-based diets for Colombian livestock.
    Dr Jon Moorby, IBERS
  2. Bean breeding and adoption in changing climates in post-conflict Colombia.
    Professor Andy Challinor, University of Leeds
  3. 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
  4. Towards BIO-smart livestock farming in Colombia: cultural landscapes, silvo-pastoral systems and biodiversity.
    Dr Maria Escobar-Tello, University of Bristol
  5. Physiological characterization of heat-tolerant bean genotypes in simulated future environments.
    Professor Donal O'Sullivan, University of Reading
  6. Advancing sustainable forage-based livestock production systems using multi-source remote sensing and social science approaches.
    Dr Brian Barrett, University of Glasgow


Notes to editors

For more information see:

About the Newton Fund

  • The Newton Fund builds research and innovation partnerships with 18 partner countries to support their economic development and social welfare, and to develop their research and innovation capacity for long-term sustainable growth. It has a total UK government investment of £735 million up until 2021, with matched resources from the partner countries.
  • The Newton Fund is managed by the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), and delivered through 15 UK delivery partners, which include the research councils, the UK academies, the British Council, Innovate UK and the Met Office.
  • Follow the Newton Fund on Twitter: @NewtonFund.

About NERC

The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) is part of UK Research and Innovation, and is the UK's main agency for funding and managing world-class research, training and knowledge exchange in the environmental sciences. It coordinates some of the world's most exciting research projects, tackling major issues such as climate change, food security, environmental influences on human health, the genetic make-up of life on Earth, and much more.

NERC receives around £300 million a year from the government's science budget, which it uses to fund research and training in universities and its own research centres. From 1 April 2018, NERC is part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

About ESRC

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is part of UK Research and Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government.

ESRC is the UK’s largest funder of research on the social and economic questions facing us today. It supports the development and training of the UK’s future social scientists and also funds major studies that provide the infrastructure for research. ESRC-funded research informs policymakers and practitioners and helps make businesses, voluntary bodies and other organisations more effective. ESRC also works collaboratively with six other UK research councils and Innovate UK to fund cross-disciplinary research and innovation addressing major societal challenges. ESRC is an independent organisation, established by Royal Charter in 1965, and funded mainly by the government.


The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is part of UK Research and Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government.

BBSRC invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. Our aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the UK and beyond.

Funded by government, BBSRC invested £469 million in world-class bioscience in 2016-17. We support research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes. BBSRC research and the people we fund are helping society to meet major challenges, including food security, green energy and healthier, longer lives. Our investments underpin important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.

More information about BBSRC, our science and our impact.
More information about BBSRC strategically funded institutes.


UK Research and Innovation Media Office

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