Published by City Farmer, Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture


International Graduate Research Awards
In Urban Agriculture


Starts 1998

Please visit the new Agropolis Awards Site. Programme is up now in English, French and Spanish!

Wendy Storey
Agropolis Awards Administrator
Programs Branch - Cities Feeding People
International Development Research Centre
250 Albert Street, P.O. Box 8500
Ottawa Ontario K1G 3H9
telephone: (613) 236-6163
fax: (613) 567-7749


Eligible Disciplinary Fields

Duration of Tenure

Amount of Funding

Eligibility Criteria



Number of Awards


Urban Agriculture: Definition and Development Issues

Research Designed and Jointly Implemented with Research Users

Eligible Areas of Research

Contact for Applications and Information


The objective of the AGROPOLIS program is to advance knowledge and inform interventions in critical problem areas of urban and peri-urban agriculture (UA). This new program supports innovative master's and doctoral field research, designed and implemented jointly with international, national or local research users. (See Note 1.)

AGROPOLIS is intended for graduate academic programs which involve non-academic actors in the development of the design and implementation of the graduate students' research. It is designed for students who want their graduate research to have an impact on development. It will be of use to non-academic actors in development who wish to tap well-trained and supervised researchers for new information relevant to their work.

Awardees will be networked with international experts and institutions, and closely monitored by the program while in the field. Selected results from completed research will be published by AGROPOLIS.

Eligible Disciplinary Fields

Health and Nutrition, Sociology, Gender Analysis, Economics, Geography, Urban Planning, Architecture, Waste and Water Engineering, Environmental Studies and Environmental Impact Assessment, Agronomy, Forestry, Fisheries, Horticulture, Animal Health and Production, Food Marketing, Agricultural Extension and Financing, Communications and Information Sciences.

Research on urban agriculture is cross-disciplinary and cross-sectoral. AGROPOLIS will assign priority to candidates whose academic training concentrates in one disciplinary field, while exposing them to other disciplines relevant to the candidate's research topic. This academic training should exhibit a good balance between agriculture and urban-oriented subjects.

Duration of Tenure

Award tenure corresponds to the period of field research, normally no less than 3 months and no more than 12 months.

Amount of Funding

The award will cover justifiable field research expenses to a maximum of $20,000 Canadian Dollars per year. First-time awardees may apply for renewal of funding for a second year of field research.

Eligibility Criteria


* At least two-thirds of awardees will hold citizenship or permanent resident status in a developing country. AGROPOLIS is intended primarily for researchers from and returning to developing countries after their studies. Up to a third of all awards could be granted to citizens or permanent residents of a developed country, (given the current funder, Canadian students will receive priority), if such candidates are affiliated with or will collaborate with an international development organization (other than IDRC). (See Note 2.)

Academic Status

* Be registered at a university in the South or in the North, that has training and supervisory expertise in the field of urban agriculture or fields relevant to urban agriculture.

* The research proposal is for a master's or a doctoral thesis.


*Provide evidence of affiliation with a higher- learning institution in the region where the field research will take place, and of field supervision by a qualified resident expert.

* Provide evidence of affiliation or collaboration with at least one international, national or local (regional or municipal) institution or organization which intends to use the awardee's research results for specific policy and/or technology interventions.


The following documents should be submitted by the applicant:

  1. Application form (please solicit from Contact below);

  2. Abstract of research proposal in English (max. 250 words);

  3. Research proposal in English or French (circa 20 pages, excluding bibliography) with research question(s) and objectives, methodology, tentative field schedule, ethical considerations, expected results and their uses, and the beneficiaries of research;

  4. Budget for proposed research: living expenses (living costs and medical/health insurance), research expenses (travel/transportation, research costs), and communications expenses. Specify amount and sources of any other income expected during award tenure, including income from any other awards as well as personal financial contribution. Funds will not be provided for language training, tuition or supervisor's travel;

  5. Curriculum vitae;

  6. Two references, from research supervisor and from another academic advisor;

  7. Academic transcripts (bachelor's, master's and/or doctoral programs). If course work is incomplete, include: photocopy of official program of studies outlining required course work or list of required course work, on university letterhead, signed by academic advisor;

  8. Proof of citizenship/permanent residency;

  9. Letter of support from higher-learning institution of affiliation in the region where the research will be carried out; and

  10. Letter of support from at least one non-academic collaborating entity, either international, national or local, explaining

  1. the entity's interest in candidate's proposed research;
  2. how it will be involved in the research process; and
  3. how it intends to use all or part of the awardee's research results.

Supporting documents from the entities on ongoing or planned policy or technology interventions which the research is to inform, should be appended to the letter of support.

Applications will be evaluated according to criteria such as:

  1. applicant's professional background and research experience;

  2. applicant's academic performance and credits in subject matters relevant to the proposed research;

  3. applicant's ability and aptitude to carry out the proposed field research successfully;

  4. proposed research will increase knowledge in the nine areas of research identified by AGROPOLIS;

  5. capability of institution of affiliation;

  6. research process and potential use of its results by research users (collaborating entities) to inform specific interventions; and

  7. suitability, feasibility, timetable, and gender sensitivity of methodology.


An international selection committee will review proposals and select successful candidates. The committee will be composed of seven experts representing different fields and regions of the world. The composition of the committee may vary from one year to another. Applications on file which are not fully documented by the deadline will not be eligible for the current competition.

Number of Awards

Up to 14 awards will be given annually. At least five will go for field research at the master's level. The number of awards in any given year may vary, depending on the quality of the competing proposals and the amount of individual awards.


End of December: Receipt of fully documented applications at IDRC.
End of April: Announcement of awards.
Field work must be initiated within the 12 months following receipt of the award.

Urban Agriculture: Definition and Development Issues

Urban agriculture is "an industry that produces, processes and markets food and fuel, largely in response to the daily demand of consumers within a town, city or metropolis, on land and water dispersed throughout the urban and peri-urban area, applying intensive production methods, using and reusing natural resources and urban wastes, to yield a diversity of crops and livestock" (Smit et al., 1996: 3). (See Note 3.)

Urban agriculture, particularly urban food production, has been increasingly important worldwide since the 1970s. With an estimated 800 million producers in the early 1990s, urban food production could increase its share of vegetables, meat, fish and dairy consumed in cities from 33 to 50 percent over the next decade. These forecasts are already confirmed in several large cities of Asia and Southeast Asia, Oceania, Eastern and Western Europe, North America, sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle-East and South America and the Caribbean.

Many factors could explain this resurgence: rapid urbanization, changing diets, export-oriented agricultural policies, inadequate transportation and distribution of rural production, elimination of subsidies for food and other basic needs, reduced formal employment, falling wages and purchasing power, lack of or ill-enforced urban regulations, civil strife, war, and natural disasters.

Urban agriculture, particularly the production of food inside and around cities, can contribute to urban food security, income savings and generation, employment and enterprise development, productive utilization of idle space and use of urban wastes, and environmental enhancement. However, most urban producers in developing countries are poor men and women who grow food for self-consumption and trade, with resources they do not own. They have little support or protection. This lack of technology and policy support for poor producers leads to practices which can be economically less rewarding, hazardous to human health, ecologically adverse, socially inequitable, and culturally or climatically inappropriate.

Research Designed and Jointly Implemented with Research Users

AGROPOLIS will support research demonstrably designed to be implemented and used wholly or in part by international, national or local entities actively engaged in sectors of development where urban agriculture can make a contribution.

Recent international conferences and global summits show that a growing range of actors are attracted to the potential of urban agriculture. These actors include: important community-based organizations; national farmers groups and other professional associations; non-governmental development or humanitarian organizations; multi-sectoral governmental committees and task forces; city councils and departments; national governments and their line ministries; specialized agencies and institutes; bi-lateral and multilateral development agencies; and banks, regional and inter-governmental organizations.

All these actors require information and expertise to either review, assess, design, implement, monitor, evaluate, or transfer and improve urban agriculture interventions as part of more comprehensive urban and agricultural development strategies.

Eligible Areas of Research

AGROPOLIS will support graduate research in developing countries on how to remove constraints and enhance the potential for urban and peri-urban agriculture. Candidates may choose any of the following priority areas for study:

Contact for Applications and Information

AGROPOLIS International Graduate Research Awards in Urban Agriculture
P.O. Box 8500, Ottawa, Canada K1G 3H9
Fax: (613) 567-7749
Telephone: (613) 236-6163

Visit AGROPOLIS on the Internet at Agroplis


(1) This Awards Program is a component of the Global Initiative of the Support Group on Urban Agriculture (SGUA). The Global Initiative is sponsored by FAO, UNDP, DGIS and IDRC. The Program is currently funded and managed by IDRC on behalf of the SGUA. IDRC will report annually on the Program to the Steering Committee of the SGUA. Other agencies and foundations contributing to this Awards Program may set conditions for the allocation of their funds. Those interested in supporting the Program should use the Contact address in this brochure for all correspondence.

(2) To be determined by the AGROPOLIS Advisory Committee.

(3) Smit, Jac, Annu Ratta and Joe Nasr (1996) Urban Agriculture: Food, Jobs and Sustainable Cities. United Nations Development Programme. New York.

April 1, 1998

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Revised March 31, 2001

Published by City Farmer
Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture