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Smart Farming Innovations for Small-Scale Producers

Grants to USA, Canada, and International Nonprofits, For-Profits, IHEs,
and Agencies to Develop Technology Solutions for Small Farmers

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation - Grand Challenges

Deadline Date:

02/25/21 11:30 AM PT


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Grants to USA, Canada, and International nonprofit organizations, for-profits, academic institutions, and government agencies to develop innovative technological solutions for small farmers. Applicants are strongly encouraged to formulate collaborative partnerships with a wide range of partners.

Geographies: While the Foundation primarily seeks solutions applicable to the LMICs listed below and favor those forming local partnerships, other geographies will be considered if a strong case is made for doing so.

  • Africa: Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ghana, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique
  • Asia: India (Bihar, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh), Bangladesh

Smart Farming Innovations for Small-Scale Producers Request for Proposals (RFP) seeks Smart Farming solutions that leverage digital technology innovations that have the potential to drive positive impact for small-scale producer (SSP) entrepreneurs delivered through bundled farmer services and enabled by scalable digital and data platforms (Figure 1). Solutions should address one or more challenges faced by small-scale crop and livestock producers in one or more areas of agricultural advisory, farm management decision support, input supply, finance, insurance, market access and linkages. Solutions should use human-centered design to elucidate the barriers that prevent SSPs from improving productivity, profitability and income – then propose Smart Farming solutions that can help elevate small-scale production entrepreneurs. Some of the fundamental challenges to address include: 1) low productivity driven by lack of access to information and services; climate change, weather variability and pest and disease outbreaks; 2) lack of access to tailored financial and insurance products, and 3) lack of access to and choice of market and offtake options. Additionally, solutions will need to consider barriers to adoption of digital farmer services, such as low language and digital literacy, the high relative cost of services and devices and, in particular, gender gaps and other potential downsides of digital solutions (e.g. the growing digital divide). 

There are two grant types – Seed Grants and Scale-Up Grants – each with its own requirements. Applicants can only apply for one of these grant types must select which level for which they are applying (proposal should not be submitted for both grant types).

Seed Grants – proposals for Smart Farming solutions that can demonstrate potential in meeting the following criteria:

  • Leveraging digital technology innovations with the potential to scale, for example, utilizing a proven technology that has been applied in agriculture in another geography, ; transferring a technology from another sector such as health, infrastructure or finance; sourcing an entirely new technology;
  • Show potential to improve SSP incomes, productivity and ability to adapt to climate change;
  • Address barriers to scaled adoption of digital services, such as access, affordability and language and digital literacy. This includes addressing women’s accessto digital services and closing the digital divide between those who have access and marginalized populations who do not;
  • Have the potential to be bundled with multiple farmer-facing services into an integrated solution;
  • Are enabled by robust digital and data technology platforms and services;
  • Provide fit-for-purpose solutions (e.g. developed using human-centered design) for SSP enterprises who seek to sell a portion of production to markets;
  • Show potential to be scaled using a sustainable business model and are affordable and able to provide positive return on investment at a smallholder farm level through successful pilots, scaling partners, or higher volume production driving down prices.

Scale-Up Grants – proposals with demonstrated ability and sufficient evidence to have positive impact. In addition to the criteria listed above for Seed Grants, Scale-Up Grants must also:

  • Leverage digital technology innovations with demonstrated readiness to scale and proven ability to bundle with other services;
  • Meet all criteria regarding technology innovations, scalable platforms, and sustainable bundled service delivery models;
  • Demonstrate that additional funding will enable value capture by SSPs or other value chain actors and sustainable and viable service delivery models over the long term.

Consortiums: To increase the probability that projects funded through this RFP will continue after the initial project completion and evolve into a continuing global public good or sustained solution, applicants are encouraged to consider a range of partners to form a consortium. For additional details, see:

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 193893

Estimated Size of Grant:

The Foundation will consider proposals for awards of up to USD 250,000 for Seed Awards and up to USD 1,500,000 for Scale-Up Awards.

Term of Contract:

Seed Awards: up to 12 months
Scale-Up Awards: over 2 years

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Grand Challenges is open to both foreign and domestic organizations, including non-profit organizations, for- profit companies, international organizations, government agencies and academic institutions. Individuals and organizations classified as individuals for U.S. tax purposes are not eligible to receive an award from the foundation as part of the Grand Challenges initiative.

Pre-Application Information:

Applications due no later than February 25, 2021, 11:30am U.S. Pacific Time

Key Dates:

- October 19, 2020 Grand Challenge published
- February 25, 2021 Letters of Inquiry due
- By April 2021 Full proposals invited
- June 2021 (TBD; 8 weeks following invitation) Full proposals due, for invited applicants

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Apply online:

Please direct all questions about this initiative, selection criteria or application instructions by e-mail to the following

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Alabama;   Alaska;   Arizona;   Arkansas;   California;   Colorado;   Connecticut;   Delaware;   Florida;   Georgia;   Hawaii;   Idaho;   Illinois;   Indiana;   Iowa;   Kansas;   Kentucky;   Louisiana;   Maine;   Maryland;   Massachusetts;   Michigan;   Minnesota;   Mississippi;   Missouri;   Montana;   Nebraska;   Nevada;   New Hampshire;   New Jersey;   New Mexico;   New York City;   New York;   North Carolina;   North Dakota;   Ohio;   Oklahoma;   Oregon;   Pennsylvania;   Rhode Island;   South Carolina;   South Dakota;   Tennessee;   Texas;   Utah;   Vermont;   Virginia;   Washington, DC;   Washington;   West Virginia;   Wisconsin;   Wyoming

USA Territories: American Samoa (USA)   Guam (USA)   Puerto Rico (USA)   Virgin Islands (USA)   Northern Mariana Islands (USA)

USA Compact Free Associations: The Federated States of Micronesia (USA)   Marshall Islands (USA)   Republic of Palau (USA)

Canada: Alberta;   British Columbia;   Manitoba;   New Brunswick;   Newfoundland and Labrador;   Northwest Territories;   Nova Scotia;   Nunavut;   Ontario;   Prince Edward Island;   Quebec;   Saskatchewan;   Yukon;


International country outside of the USA, Israel and Canada.

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