Peanut Innovation Lab seeks proposals for research projects on nutrition and gender & youth

By for CAES News

The Peanut Innovation Lab has issued requests for proposals in two new areas of inquiry: nutrition and gender/youth.

Both nutrition and gender/youth are important areas of research in the five-year Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Peanut, which began this year when the U.S Agency for International Development (USAID) awarded management responsibilities to the University of Georgia’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

The lab previously issued a call for projects focusing on peanut variety improvements and value-added gains.

In the area of nutrition, peanuts are an important food in the fight against malnutrition. Because peanuts are produced and consumed around the world, it is a principal source of vegetable protein and fat. The legume is a key ingredient in ready-to-use therapeutic and supplementary foods used by UNICEF, the World Food Programme (WFP) and others for community-based treatment of severe and moderate acute malnutrition.

Each year, mounting scientific evidence shows that eating peanuts has other nutritional and health benefits. With highly digestible protein, high-quality fats and many important micronutrients, peanuts increasingly appear to be one of nature’s superfoods and seem to help people control chronic diseases, including obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

Research might include how to increase consumption through traditional dishes or new products; how to improve processing to increase nutrition and health benefits; and how peanuts can be used even more effectively to stave off malnutrition through school-lunch programs or selecting for nutrient-rich varieties.   

For these nutrition-focused projects, the Peanut Innovation Lab is particularly interested in collaborations with other nutrition-focused projects and institutions. In particular, the U.S. Peanut Institute (www.peanut-institute.org) has agreed to consider jointly funding at least one competitive research project in the area of nutrition. Priority areas for joint funding include research that addresses nutritional benefits of local processing and novel peanut-based foods. Selected projects will need to indicate a clear dual benefit to the U.S. and the target country.

Collaborations with other Feed the Future Innovation Labs, the CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals (and other CGIAR research programs), CGIAR centers, nongovernmental organizations, the private sector, and other USAID initiatives are encouraged, especially where these leverage funding from the respective programs.

In the area of gender, research is important because peanuts are often considered a "woman’s crop," especially in the developing world. While that saying means different things to different people, it is important to understand the roles women, men and youth play in the peanut value chain.

Whether people diversify their diet often depends on how much control women have on the household resources and income, as well as their education and ability to make social and behavioral changes. Women often prepare the family’s meals, but men are more likely to control income and thus must participate or make a decision to eat certain foods that could otherwise produce income for the family.

Women also encounter marketing and value chain barriers because gender seclusion restricts their access to markets, they have less access to technology and they may have less control of income as agriculture becomes more commercialized. There is a worldwide gender assumption that women take less risk than men.

In regions like sub-Saharan Africa, young people (under the age of 25) make up more than half of the population. They are the future of farming, but have limited access to land and may be drawn to an urban life. There is a need to find strategies to make farming exciting and profitable for them.

A webinar will be held July 16, 2018, to answer questions specific to these requests for proposal. Concept notes are due Aug. 3, 2018. Those projects selected from concept notes should submit a full proposal by Aug. 31, 2018. To learn more about the RFPs, go to the Work With Us page of the Peanut Innovation Lab's website.