International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

About the Benefit-sharing Fund

Plant genetic resources for food and agriculture make an essential contribution to increasing and safeguarding food security and nutrition, improving rural livelihoods and economies and to meeting the challenges of adapting to climate change. However, we are losing this biodiversity at an alarming rate.

Established by the International Treaty’s Governing Body in 2009 and under its direct control, the Benefit-sharing Fund supports projects that leverage plant genetic resources to find solutions for complex challenges relating to food and nutrition insecurity, biodiversity loss and climate change.

The Fund enables small-scale farmers, scientists and breeders to tap into the Treaty’s global genepool of millions of different genetic materials to undertake research and develop crop varieties that are more resilient, more productive and nutritious.

So far, it has supported four project cycles with 80 projects funded around the world and in collaboration with over 500 organizations. The primary beneficiaries of the Benefit-sharing Fund are farmers, especially in developing countries who conserve and sustainably utilize plant genetic resources for food and agriculture.

Watch this video for a short introduction to the Benefit-sharing Fund

The fifth call for proposals

Through helping farmers at local level to find solutions to climate change and other challenges, the Treaty system for agricultural diversity is strengthened. The fifth cycle of the Benefit-sharing Fund (BSF-5) will transcend the divide that is often seen between on-farm, in situ and ex situ conservation, and demonstrate how different initiatives from farming communities through national and international genebanks are linked together through the International Treaty. The programme will aim at creating a network of initiatives led by farming communities that are actively managing plant genetic diversity in centers of origin of crops, areas of food insecurity or affected by climate change.

Knowledge, information and germplasm generated through the Benefit-sharing Fund will feed back into the Treaty enabling mechanisms, expanding the resources available all over the world to improve food security and sustainable agriculture. BSF-5 will develop a strong knowledge-sharing mechanism to improve farmers’ access to plant genetic material and its related-data, as well as technical tools that help strengthen national and regional planning to Treaty implementation.

Through multiple partnerships, BSF-5 will benefit a wide range of stakeholders, including policymakers, genebank curators, breeders, researchers, students and academia.

The Secretariat of the International Treaty invites governmental or non-governmental organizations based in developing countries that are Contracting Parties to the Treaty to apply to the Fifth Call for Proposals of the Benefit-sharing Fund and submit a pre-proposal by 29 July 2022, 23.59 CEST.

Application guidelines

1. How do I apply?

1. How do I apply?

  • Please check the eligibility and screening criteria to make sure that your intended project is eligible for funding from the Fifth Cycle of the Benefit-sharing Fund.
  • Download the format for the ‘Submission form for pre-proposals’ and insert the responses according to the guidance provided in the document with ‘guidelines for the development of pre-proposals’.
  • Submit your pre-proposal through the recognized authorities of an eligible Contracting Party of the Treaty, which are the National Focal Points or the Permanent Representatives to FAO.
  • All applications must be submitted using the format of the Submission Form for pre-proposals. Pre-proposals may be submitted in any of the Treaty languages, plus, where necessary, a translation to a working language (English, French, Spanish), as stipulated by the Operational Procedures adopted by the Governing Body.
  • Applications must be sent by the national authorities of eligible Contracting Parties to the Secretariat of the Treaty at [email protected] or by fax (39) 065705634.

2. What type of projects will be funded?

2. What type of projects will be funded?

The programme will support single country and multi-country projects, that align with the overall objective of the Fund. The duration of all projects is expected to be between 18 months and 4 years.

The awarded projects will demonstrate the benefits that plant genetic resources bring to farmers, with a special emphasis on support to on-farm and in situ management, farmer-to-farmer exchanges, local seed value chains, and a better flow of plant genetic resources from ex-situ collections to farmers and back.

3. What is the overall funding available for this funding cycle?

3. What is the overall funding available for this funding cycle?

The amount of funding available for grants for the Fifth Call for Proposals is expected to be at least USD 7 million.

70% of the available funding will be reserved for the general Call for Proposals, including those projects issued with a Certificate of Excellence in previous rounds, and a maximum of 30% of funding would be available for second phases of BSF-3 projects.

4. What is the funding range per project?

4. What is the funding range per project?

Applicants preparing single-country projects are requested to submit pre-proposals for funding up to USD 250,000 and those aiming to prepare multi-country projects are requested to submit pre-proposals for funding up to USD 600,000.

5. Who is eligble to apply?

5. Who is eligble to apply?

Any governmental or non-governmental organization, including farmers and farmers’ organizations, genebanks and research institutions, as well as regional and international organizations, based in countries that are Contracting Parties to the Treaty, may apply for grants under the Benefit-sharing Fund. Applicants must meet the eligibility criteria established by the Governing Body and listed in Appendix 1 of the Fifth Call for Proposals

6. What are the eligibility and selection criteria?

6. What are the eligibility and selection criteria?

In order to be eligible to apply for funding under BSF-5, project pre-proposals must:

  • Contribute to the objectives of the International Treaty;
  • Fall within the priorities established by the Governing Body;
  • Benefit Contracting Parties that are developing countries;
  • Be presented through the Contracting Party or Parties concerned;
  • Be submitted on or before the deadline set for submissions;
  • Adhere to the guidelines for submission.

Pre-proposals that meet the eligibility criteria will be screened by an Independent Panel of Experts against the screening criteria for pre-proposals

7. Can a country be represented in a single-country pre-proposal and a multi-country pre-proposal or are they mutually exclusive?

7. Can a country be represented in a single-country pre-proposal and a multi-country pre-proposal or are they mutually exclusive?

Single country and multi-country pre-proposals are not mutually exclusive. One country may submit different pre-proposals for both single country and multi-country projects

8. Will proposals submitted under previous Calls for Proposals be considered for the Fifth Call for Proposals?

8. Will proposals submitted under previous Calls for Proposals be considered for the Fifth Call for Proposals?

Pre-proposals submitted to previous Calls for Proposals will not automatically be part of the Fifth Call for Proposals. However, those applicants are welcome to submit a pre-proposal using the submissions form available in Appendix 5 of the Fifth Call for Proposals. Projects that received a Certificate of Excellence in BSF-4 and BSF-3 projects that consider developing a second-phase proposal, are encouraged to apply.

9. Who is responsible for the selection of pre-proposals?

9. Who is responsible for the selection of pre-proposals?

According to the Operations Manual: Benefit-sharing Fund the Standing Committee on the Funding Strategy and Resource Mobilization (the Funding Committee) is responsible for the final approval of projects to be funded in each project cycle of the Benefit-sharing Fund, on the basis of preparatory work done by the Independent Panel of Experts.

10. What happens if my pre-proposal gets awarded?

10. What happens if my pre-proposal gets awarded?

Successful applicants will enter a full project design phase of approximately three months. During this period, applicants produce a full project proposal that details the objectives and scope of activities, outputs and related target indicators, baseline data and a budget and will further include specific plans for communication and dissemination of project results, monitoring, gender inclusiveness, institutional and knowledge management and a sustainability and exit strategies.

After the announcement of projects to be funded, a project agreement in the form of a Letter of Agreement will signed with each applicant institution.

11. What kind of provisions are contained in the Letters of Agreement?

11. What kind of provisions are contained in the Letters of Agreement?

The FAO template for Letters of Agreement consists of an introductory part where general terms and conditions are established, a reporting and monitoring schedule which is linked to funds’ disbursements and an Annex that contains the project proposal documents.

In addition to the general provisions of the FAO template, Letters of Agreement contain additional provisions that are specifically tailored to the Benefit-sharing Fund. These specific provisions include the agreement (a) to make all plant genetic resources for food and agriculture listed in Annex I of the Treaty that are within the scope of the project available according to the terms and conditions of the Multilateral System of Access and Benefit-sharing; and (b) to make all information generated by the project publicly available within one year from the date of completion of the project.

12. When and how will the funds for project implementation be disbursed?

12. When and how will the funds for project implementation be disbursed?

The grants will be disbursed in tranche payments. The first payment will be made upon receipt by the Secretary of the counter signed project agreement. Subsequent disbursements are conditional on receipt and approval by the Secretary of the interim progress and financial reports.

13. Can applicants receive support in developing their project proposals?

13. Can applicants receive support in developing their project proposals?

A Helpdesk function is available to support applicants to the Fifth Call for Proposals.

Specifically, the Helpdesk will:

  • Provide technical assistance by email regarding the preparation of pre-proposals and full proposals, in Arabic, English, French and Spanish.
  • Conduct support workshops focusing on the preparation of full project proposals, for applicants invited to prepare full proposals from regions and Contracting Parties that have so far been under-represented among the recipients of support from the Benefit-sharing Fund. 

The Helpdesk can be contacted by e-mail at [email protected]

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