Call for application: Food Systems Accelerator Program 2022


Call for application: Food Systems Accelerator Program 2022

Do you operate an agricultural company that has developed a climate-smart innovation to combat food insecurity and boost resilience in the East and Southern Africa region? Apply to our program to get individualized support and funding to help you commercialize your discoveries.
Food production in East and Southern Africa continues to be seriously threatened by climate change (ESA). Food and nutrition security is being further harmed by a lack of climate change resilience, fragmented agri-food value chains, a growing population, food shortages, and rising food prices.

In order to assist agribusinesses in scaling up their climate smart technologies, the CGIAR Food Systems Accelerator was created. In order to address urgent issues in the value chains and support the development of stronger and more sustainable food systems, these innovations are geared toward agri-food actors.

Target sectors:

  • SDG 8 and 10: The CGIAR Food Systems Accelerator builds and sustains the foundations for economic growth in the agriculture and food sectors
  • SDG 17: Partnerships supported by the Programme
  • SDG 2 and 3:integrate a food and nutrition security agenda with direct outreach to consumers
  • SDG 1 and 5: laying the foundations for viable local economies and equitable agrifood value chains
  • SDG 5 and SDG 8: promote job creation, skilled and decent work, and inclusive (women and youth) economic growth
  • SDG 13: The Programme provides SMEs with access to science-based research and innovation which enhances their capacities to make smallholder farmers, local communities, and partners resilient to the effects of climate change

Food Systems Accelerator Program Objective

The overall objective of the CGIAR Food Systems Accelerator Program is to:

  • Scale climate-smart food system innovations through strategic support of commercially viable and inclusive climate-smart agribusinesses
  • Develop a pipeline of inclusive climate-smart agribusinesses in East and Southern Africa
  • Support inclusive climate-smart agribusinesses through a 6-month programme that provides investment readiness and business development, climate-smart agriculture (CSA) and impact measurement and management (IMM) technical assistance, coaching and mentoring.
  • Access to finance through de-risking grants to scale CSA innovations and business models and matchmaking with private investors for follow-on capital.

What are we looking for in participants?

Priority innovation themes

We are searching for user-centered innovation cases that will boost production, improve resilience to climate change, and mitigate the detrimental effects on agriculture, all of which will have a significant and positive influence on food security. We back technological advancements that are both climate-smart and compellingly sustainable from a business standpoint. Digital, technical, financial, product, service, process, or business model innovations are all possible.

These can fall under one of the four top priority innovation categories and be current or upcoming developments in any of the four target nations. Supported innovations must be created to help East and Southern African smallholder farmers and organizations. Business models that support agro-processing and offer aggregation services will receive attention. Women and youth owned companies are encouraged to apply. 

The four priority innovation themes are as follows:

Mechanization and irrigation

Mechanization is the process of using agricultural machinery to dramatically increase the productivity of farm workers. Mechanization refers to the development of agricultural land, planting, managing crop and animal harvest and post-harvest operations, as well as the production, distribution, and use of a variety of tools, machinery, and equipment. The process of applying water to crops and fields with the use of pumps, sprinklers, drip hoses, and other mechanical devices is known as irrigation. Mechanized irrigation directly improves water use efficiency, which has numerous collateral benefits for tackling climate change. Solar-powered irrigation, supplemental irrigation, grading and sorting equipment, storage, and processing equipment are a few examples of innovations falling under this heading.

Conservation agriculture

A farming strategy known as “conservation agriculture” encourages minimizing soil disturbance, maintaining permanent soil coverings, and diversifying the plant species grown on farms. It improves organic biological processes and aids in more effective nutrient and water utilization, which lessens the demand for artificial fertilizers and the environmental disruption they cause. The strategy is founded on the practical implementation of three interconnected principles: I continuous none or minimal mechanical soil disturbance (no-till seeding or planting and no-till weeding), (ii) ongoing maintenance of soil mulch cover (crop biomass, stubble, and cover crops), and (iii) diversification of cropping systems (crop rotations and/or sequences and/or associations involving annuals and perennials, including legumes for natural nitrogen fixation), as well as other factors a few instances of innovations under this theme include, agriculture-based sustainable intensification management practices, Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM) and Integrated Pest Management (IPM).

Nutrition-sensitive climate smart agriculture

Nutrition-sensitive climate smart agriculture are solutions decreasing the trade-offs between agricultural productivity, climate change, and human and animal nutrition. They make farming more climate sensitive and produce more nutritious food while maintaining productivity. Some examples of innovations under this theme include products such as legumes, cassava, livestock, dairy, oil seeds, horticulture (fresh produce and vegetables), and other staples.

Agricultural Risk Management (ARM)

In order to minimize, monitor, and control the likelihood or impact of unfortunate events and optimize opportunities, agricultural risk management (ARM) involves the identification, evaluation, and prioritization of risks in agricultural activities. They strengthen farmers’ resiliency and boost farming’s predictability. Advisory services, market linkage services, digitizing the value chain, and financial products are a few examples of advancements under this area (microinsurance, savings, lending, and credit guarantees).

Food Systems Accelerator Program Business stage

  • Early Stage: companies that have begun to market their products. Will require funding to market products. Funded by venture capitalists and growth equity investors (private equity)
  • Growth Stage: companies with increased demand for products, that require funding to increase production and are looking for debt or equity investors (venture capital and private equity).
  • Expansion Stage: companies looking to gain market share locally and/or for export funded by debt and equity (private and public equity).

What we offer selected participants

  • Provision of Climate-smart agriculture Technical Assistance: through this programme each agribusiness will collaborate with CGIAR scientists and experts to receive coordinated and specialised evidence-based TA support that encourages adoption and strengthens their CSA practices, addresses concrete ecosystem challenges, and improves their bankability. Agribusinesses will also have access to research and data.
  • Provision of Impact Measurement and Management (IMM) Technical Assistance: Agribusiness teams selected to this Programme will receive training on how to effectively measure and manage impact, use their data to improve business performance, identify areas where value can be created and achieve their desired result in contributing towards positive environmental and social impact. This training will be provided by CGIAR network of scientists and experts.
  • Provision of Investment Readiness Technical Assistance: Each agribusiness in this programme will collaborate with IFDC-2SCALE and its network to receive investment readiness and business development support to help secure financing from the private sector.
  • De-risking Grant: Following the conclusion of the accelerator program and Pitch Day, four companies will receive USD 20,000 each according to their business scaling plans.
  • Access to investors and corporate partners to attract follow-on funding and potential business opportunities.

Food Systems Accelerator Program Eligibility criteria

  • The business should be officially registered and compliant with regulatory authorities. Please provide the following:
    • A Certificate of Incorporation for a Limited Company or Partnership Deed for a Partnership Business.
    • 2 years audited accounts.
    • Contact details of company’s references.
    • Team composition.
    • Curriculum Vitae for management team.
    • Tax Compliance Certificate.
  • A clear inclusive strategy for smallholder farmers, women, and youth within the business model in at least one of the following dimensions: ownership, management team, workforce and policies, supply chain and customers.
  • Applicants must be a for-profit company and demonstrate commercial viability and either be profitable or on the path to profitability. NGOs, corporate companies, and consultants will not be considered.
  • Operating in the following countries: Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, and Zambia.

Program dates

  • Application period dates; start 23rd November 2022 and deadline 22nd December 2022
  • First shortlist announcement – 13 January 2022
  • Second shortlist announcement – 27 January 2023
  • Final shortlist announcement of cohort -– 10 February 2023
  • 6-month technical assistance – 1 March 2023 – 31 August 2023
  • Pitch Day and announcement of grant recipients – 15 October 2023

Food Systems Accelerator Program Organization profiles


CGIAR is the largest agriculture innovation network with over 3000 partners and clients in over 70 countries, a research portfolio of US $900 million, and a focus on improving food and nutrition security through a science-based strategy to emerging development issues. Supporting the transformation of food systems, promoting sustainable land and water use, fostering resilient agri-food systems, and fostering genetic innovation through crop breeding and seed systems are the main scientific areas of focus. These areas will help food and farms adapt to meet objectives for eradicating poverty, promoting gender equality, improving nutrition, combating climate change, and protecting the environment. In close cooperation with hundreds of partners, including national and regional research institutions, civil society organizations, academic institutions, development organizations, and the private sector, its 13 CGIAR Centers/Alliances conduct its research.

Ukama Ustawi

The CGIAR Food Systems Accelerator is a work package in the Ukama Ustawi regional initiative of the CGIAR. The Initiative aims to support climate-resilient agriculture and livelihoods in 12 countries in East and Southern Africa by helping millions of smallholders intensify, diversify, and reduce the risks in maize-based farming through improved extension services, small and medium enterprise development, supporting governance frameworks and increased investment with a gender and social inclusion lens


The 2SCALE (  is one of the most of IFDC ( influential incubator and accelerator program of inclusive agribusiness in sub-Saharan Africa. The program support partnerships and business models with significant potential to attract and employ the youth, to engage and empower women, and to improve food and nutrition security (at the consumer end of the value chain), also the program focus on replication of successful business models and on institutional factors that drive or constrain systematic and transformative change, to accelerate and scale inclusive agribusiness.

Deadline: December 22, 2022

Apply here



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