Conservation Agriculture

Conservation Agriculture Research

Conservation Agriculture Specific Research

Norms and Conditions

The Conservation Agriculture Farmer Innovation Programme (CA FIP) has been successfully developed and implemented since 2013 serving as a framework for channelling and managing a portion of The Maize Trust funding. Research to support the adaptation of CA in South Africa through the CA FIP has successfully improved the impact and cost-effectiveness of funding allocated by The Maize Trust through the development of clear guidelines, evaluation criteria, structures (e.g. the evaluation panel and CA forum), process and most importantly, well selected and successful projects.  Below are evaluation criteria and templates for new proposals and progress reports.






Applicant & project title:                            




1. The extent to which on-farm research have been included. 15
2. Level of farmer / community /stakeholder participation, support and/or networking. 15
3. Addressing key principles and practices of CA. 15
4. Proof of systematic planning and preparation of proposal (technical content, quality and rationale). 12
5. Clear and viable projections and assumptions on bio-physical, economic and social sustainability and impact, including potential for adoption. 12
6. Co-funding from and collaboration with other institutions and organizations. 10
7. Demonstrated capacity, suitability and ability of the organisation to deliver the project. 11
8. Feasibility and realism of achieving project objectives through proper implementation and management. 10





Excellent: 10      Good: 7      Average: 5       Poor: 3          Very poor: 1




EVALUATOR:                                                                                                      Date:



  1. Does the proposal particularly include on-farm research, where farmers or rural communities are lead or equal partners (in identifying research needs, planning/designing, implementing and evaluating various options or possible solutions). The research & development (implementation) process (e.g. experiments) should be designed within the context and goal of the project, e.g. collaboratively-managed and/or farmer-led experiments. Other appropriate (alternative) approaches and methodologies gleaned from the natural, economic and/or social sciences must be described and should support the on-farm R&D process. The applicant must describe how these methodologies will be applied to maximise project impacts (outputs and outcomes), of which the research and development of context-specific CA systems in the target area(s) is seen as an important outcome.
  2. The proposal should clearly indicate and describe the level of involvement of farmers and/or communities / stakeholders. Active involvement of farmer groups or communities is necessary, as well as the use of mechanisms, such as ‘innovation platforms’, to interactively engage key stakeholders, including farmers, as key partners. The proposal must clearly explain How and Who the project identify and involve as key stakeholders in promoting CA in the area.
  3. Does the proposal address all CA principles and practices appropriately / correctly with the emphasis on quality and innovative implementation?

CA principles and practices are:

  • Continuous minimum mechanical soil disturbance
  • Diversified cropping, including the use of crop rotations and –associations, as well as cover crops
  • Permanent organic soil cover

Other principles and technologies, or so-called Good Agricultural Practices (GAP’s), applied to compliment CA systems are:

  • Integration of livestock
  • Integrated soil fertility and acidity management
  • Integrated pest and disease management (IPM)
  • Integrated weed management (IWM)
  1. Has careful and quality thought (rationale) been given to prepare, motivate and structure the proposal and having content of high quality? Has the prescribed proposal format been used?
  2. Is there a clear and realistic chance (through well-founded projections, explanations and/or assumptions in the proposal) that the project will make a meaningful impact, including local adaptation and adoption of CA? Is the plan/ approach/ process/ philosophy / theory of action or change being proposed in the project clear and likely to achieve those impacts? In other words, is there a clear and convincing explanation of how the proposed project will achieve the following type of impacts: improve natural resources (the environment), involve, empower and build capacity (especially of farmers), inform decision-making and/or influence awareness, interaction, learning and practice by a wider group of farmers or organizations to benefit from the project, apart from the grant recipient itself.
  3. In the implementation of the project, what co-funding (cash or in-kind) and collaboration is envisaged with other institutions & programmes, with other (farmer) organisations / networks and/or wider?
  4. Applicants are assessed on their (group’s) longevity (permanency), recent activities, funding history and experience in successfully delivering projects of this nature. This is a measure of the capacity, suitability and ability of applicant(s) to manage contractual obligations under this CA programme and deliver results.
  5. Proof of realistic and well thought-through planning and use of resources leading to project implementation. A viable work plan with objectives, activities/tasks, expected results and roles / responsibilities of lead and collaborating partners. A realistic and detailed budget (allocated to specific activities/tasks and results). Evidence that the proponents can mobilize and manage the necessary resources to ensure the success of the project. Sound participatory monitoring and evaluation framework, activities and possible indicators for measuring progress and assisting with management towards proposed outcomes (e.g. changes in natural resources, awareness, attitude and behavior/practice). Collaboratively managed mechanisms and structures, such as innovation platforms, for example, where key stakeholders collectively plan, act, share, reflect, learn and adapt through interaction and social learning (communication and dialogue) are highly recommended as an important tool to manage project implementation, results and experiences.













Progress & effectiveness: Have expected activities and results been achieved? 20
Quality & efficiency of work (operational, implementation and management aspects) and report? 20
Quality and understanding of analysis, interpretation and synthesis of results in report? 20
Current impact – level/rate of adoption of information and technologies? 20
Potential to sustain and scale out project / impact? 20
Total 100


Excellent: 10      Good: 7      Average: 5       Poor: 3          Very poor: 1








  1. Introduction:

Why, how and what is the proposal for?

  1. Description of the applicant (profile):

Provide a brief description of the applicant’s organisation, main activity, ownership, experience to date (e.g. in the grain industry and Conservation Agriculture), capacity and personnel. Provide evidence of the legal status of the applicant, where necessary.

  1. Contact person and details:

Provide the name of the main contact person, including the role of the person as well as the contact details of the applicant (full address, phone number, email address)

  1. Background and Problem statement:

Describe the background and problem that require urgent and appropriate research interventions by a unique CA philosophy and approach (see project proposal evaluation criteria as guidance).

  1. Description of Targeted study area(s):

Give the location(s) of the project implementation, as well as a short description of the physical (soil, climate, land use, etc.), economic and demographic features of the study areas. An appropriate map (e.g. a topographic or from Google maps) indicating the latitude and longitude, as well as nearest towns and major landmarks are advisable.

  1. Target beneficiaries.

Who are the beneficiaries? What is their situation / profile? What are they doing? How many are they (e.g. per location)? What is your involvement / history with them?

NOTE: Attach copies of legal Registration of target group, Title, where applicable / possible, as well as evidence / letters of involvement / invitations of farmer groups, etc., to support the application.

  1. Project aim:

What is the project aimed at achieving? Indicate the sectors in the grain industry that will benefit from the project and how this will be achieved.

  1. Objectives:

Provide brief specific or short-term objectives of the project (maximum of six) that will assist in achieving the aim.

  1. Project motivation, description and rationale:

Provide a comprehensive motivation / description of the proposed project of how CA research will happen to achieve or meet the CA FIP guidelines and evaluation criteria. This section should include, but not necessarily be limited to, the rationale for the proposed project and its research approach, description of the innovation process, the main concepts / principles, methodologies and technologies to be followed by the project, as well as the main actors and their respective roles. It is important that you link the proposal with the CA FIP’s philosophy, principles, processes and evaluation criteria. Any additional evidence you may provide (agreements, market, etc.) will strengthen your application.

  1. Work plan, Timeframe and Expected Short-term Results:

Develop the projected work plan indicating the duration (start and finish date) of each of the key activities. Expected Short-term Results (i.e. Tangible Outputs) or indicators of success should be indicated. The following table is proposed:


Objective: 1 ….
Key activity Timeline / period Key partners and responsibilities Output Indicators of success
  1. Expected long-term Results (Outcomes & Impact) of the planned project intervention and contribution to the maize/sorghum industry

Briefly describe the expected long-term results (i.e. Environmental, Social and Economic Outcomes and Impacts) of the project intervention, including the expected impact or its contribution to the maize industry.

  1. Project budget:

Provide information on the required budget to purchase key inputs and implement the proposed activities. The following table could be used:

Budget: 2020 …. [EXAMPLE]
Expenses (summary) Budget ( R )
Salaries and benefits
Personnel costs
Travel and accommodation
Other personnel costs
Part time employees
fleet costs
Services: Project specific direct costs
Contract services
Research consumables
Diagnostically, lab and PR services
Shows and exhibitions
Resource requirements
Overhead allocation
Grand total ( R ) (VAT excluded)  


Key work packages and/or activities ….2020 … Budget ( R )
Sub-total (per objective)  
Grand total ( R )  
  1. Communication and sharing of information:

Briefly describe how communication within and/or from local innovation platform to broader group of stakeholders / network will take place and how information and experiences will be shared or accessed.

NB: All applicants should be ready for a field appraisal when requested.



(A) Interim, annual progress and final reports on each project that is funded by the Trust. These interim reports have to be submitted before or on 30 September and 30 March of every year for the duration of a project and must contain the information as set out hereunder:

  • Identification of the project and the project leader.
  • The actions that have been taken with regard to the project.

Information required: Activities, actions, methodologies, techniques, materials, dates, localities, etc. that were implemented

  • The progress that has been made with the project.

Information required: Progress on proposed work plan, i.e. objectives, activities/outputs, outcomes/impacts

  • The results that have been achieved.

Information required: An adequate presentation, analysis, interpretation and discussion/synthesis of results achieved. Adequate and complimentary use of illustrations, graphs, tables, photos, figures, etc. supported by a narrative (description/discussion) to lead the reader towards a logical understanding and conclusion on the results achieved to date.

  • Any problems that have been encountered with the project.
  • Milestones that have not been achieved and the reasons for that.
  • An assessment of the adequacy of the funding to complete the execution of the project in the form of an expenditure statement.
  • The estimated duration of the project until completion

NOTE: The Table below can be used to complete report with information required. Add and refer to Attachments and/or detailed Results below table, such as graphs, tables, figures and photos, plus their discussion / analysis.

Work Package or Objective: 


(as specified in Work Package or project proposal)

Deliverables or Milestones

(as specified in Work Package or project proposal)

Progress and Results achieved;


Problems and Milestones not achieved

(in report period)



(B) A final progress report on completion of each project, which contains the information required for interim progress reports together with the following additional information:

  • A comprehensive explanation of all the results that were achieved, in easily understandable terms.
  • A detailed budget and expenditure statement of the allocation of the funds that were granted by the Trust for the finalisation of each project, which budget and statement have to be certified by a registered auditor.
  • Sharing of information: The manner envisaged in which each project and its results will be published and distributed to parties in the maize industry. Particular emphasis has to be placed on the communication of any development initiatives for the emerging sector to the National Department of Agriculture and the National Agricultural Marketing Council.
  • The possible utilisation of the project results within the South African maize industry.
  • In the case of projects related to the development of emerging farmers a final progress report should also provide an overall picture of the achievements in terms of the project, for instance:
  • the achievements relating to improved production practices and maize yields by the emerging farmers themselves;
  • an identification list of the emerging farmers who have joined or left the project during the period covered by the report;
  • an identification of the farmers in the project who have progressed to commercial farmer status.