Innovation Fund

ISSD Uganda Vegetable Component 1st Call for Concept Notes: SPS and Protected Horticulture


The Integrated Seed Sector Development (ISSD) Plus Project is a 4-year project coordinated by the Centre for Development Innovation (CDI) of Wageningen UR in collaboration with the National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO) and funded by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Kampala. The programme aims to strengthen the development of a vibrant, pluralistic and market-oriented seed
sector that is able to address key challenges that hamper the seed sector development in Uganda. The ISSD Plus project has four components: a) promotion of uptake of quality seed; b) enhancing the Quality Declared Seed system through supporting Local Seed Businesses; c) addressing bottlenecks in early generation seed (EGS) and creating an enabling environment for the seed sector; and d) promoting the
use of advanced vegetable varieties.

The vegetable component within the ISSD Plus project, aims at contributing to increased earnings and competitiveness of the vegetable sector actors which subsequently contributes to improved national food and nutrition security. The commonly identified constraints to vegetable production and marketing at the local/regional and international markets include: limited access to and knowledge of well-adapted
varieties; lack of knowledge and skills on agronomic practices; pre-dominant use of low quality seedlings; high pest and disease pressure; poor water and fertilizer use; lack of market information; inconsistency in product quality and supply; non-conformity to phytosanitary requirements; and high production costs. Such constraints have led to a lower overall competitiveness of the Ugandan vegetable sector, also
compared to neighbouring countries like Kenya.

Therefore, the ISSD Plus’s interventions will address the constraints to production and productivity by promoting the use of advanced vegetable varieties under improved agronomic practices (high input-high output vegetable production systems) and by contributing to activities towards enhancing the enabling environment for the vegetable sector. The vegetable innovation grant facility aims to contribute to solving those vegetable production challenges other than the use of poor quality seed. It does this through soliciting and testing innovative business ideas from the private sector.

In this first Call for Proposals ISSD Plus will support four innovation projects, with a grant size of EUR 25,000 to EUR 50,000, with an additional 50% matching contribution from the grantee.

The process for awarding a proposal has two phases:

  1. the development of a brief concept note (with a maximum of 4 pages); and
  2. those companies selected in the first round can develop a full proposal in the second round.

Attached to the Call is the format for submitting your Concept Note. The deadline for the Concept Note is 29 September, 2017, 5 pm EAT, and should be sent by email to:


  1. Innovation Fund Manual (PDF Document 2.6Mb)
  2. Application Form (Word Document 88kb)

Focus and Scope

The first call has prioritized two topics:

  • Innovations to improve food safety and phytosanitary issues for export vegetable crops &
  • Innovations for protected cultivation including different types of greenhouses, tunnels and nurseries

The first topic aims to address the single most important issue in export vegetable production: pesticide residues and EU interception because of harmful organisms. In 2016 alone Uganda had 83 interceptions of capsicum (mainly chilli pepper) exports to the EU, of which false coddling moth (73) was by far the most important pest discovered. The high level of interceptions is seriously affecting Uganda’s export
opportunities and could lead to an overall ban on capsicum like Ghana has experienced in the period 2015-2017. The Call asks for exporting and input supply companies to come up with innovations to combat the pest infestations, e.g. through the development of an Integrated Pest Management system; the introduction of new (biological) control agents or traps; and/or the development of a judicious scouting and farmer extension service. Eligible activities can focus on (but are not limited to) the training of farmers, registration of new crop protection products and the development of spray teams. All projects under this Call should directly try to address the current export problems.

The second topic aims to bring innovations in protected horticulture to Uganda. At the moment many greenhouses and tunnels have been constructed in Uganda, with a mixed success. Overall, it is felt that better adapted greenhouses and tunnels need to be designed and developed for Uganda’s agroclimatic conditions. These new designs should provide a solution for the high (night) temperatures and humidity;
while still being able to protect the plants from harmful organisms. In addition, this Call invites companies that want to establish a professional, commercial nursery for the production of vegetable seedlings; as this can further increase the uptake of hybrid vegetable seeds. Eligible activities can focus on (but are not limited to): the establishment of a new design greenhouse; setting up a demonstration model; the training of farmers in greenhouse production; and/or the establishment of a commercial nursery for the production of vegetable seedlings.

Eligibility criteria

The Call for Concept Notes invites domestic and foreign companies in the vegetable sector, that are legally registered and have a track record of at least two-year being active within Uganda. Companies can partner with other organizations like research institutes, universities and NGOs. In case a partnership is proposed, a support letter from the partnering organization is required.

Only fully filled in Concept Notes, with a signed signature page and Annex, will be taken into consideration. All Concept Notes should adhere to the format as presented in Annex 1.

Targeted vegetable crops include: cabbage, capsicum (peppers), eggplant, leafy vegetables, onions, tomatoes, members of the Cucurbitaceae family (cucumbers, squash, butternut and melons) and any other exotic vegetable.

Proposals focus on one or more of the following three outcome indicators:

  • Income and productivity increase
  • Reduction in pesticide residues
  • Export growth


All Concept Notes need to address the issues as set out in the Focus & Scope section of this Call. Concept Notes that significantly deviate from the scope and objectives of the Call will not be considered for the assessment by the Selection Committee.

For both topics, the aim is that results from the innovation project can be replicated and scaled up; and hence will have a sector wide impact. Therefore, especially input supply companies and technology providers are requested to apply to this Call.

Eligible Activities and Costs

It must be emphasized that the Call is intended for additional activities that go beyond the core business of the company; i.e. all budgeted costs need to be attributed to new project activities. The co-financing contribution of ISSD Uganda is between EUR 25,000 and EUR 50.000 per proposal; with an equivalent amount being provided by the company. Specific conditions are:

  • Capital investments and inputs together, are capped at a maximum of 50% of the total budget.
  • Costs can include additional staff costs for project management, training and extension, research, and quality control.
  • Costs can include training costs, travel and accommodation (at a reasonable, actual cost), consultancy fees, and expert advice.
  • More detailed information on eligible costs can be found in the Fund Manual, accessible at the ISSD Uganda-website.

Concept Note Development

All applicants need to consider the following during their Concept Note development:

  1. Must address the arrangements and issues as presented in this Call.
  2. Concept Notes need to be developed in accordance with the format as Annexed to this document; carefully filling in all boxes, and the co-financing budget template.
  3. Proposals should focus on one or more of the following three outcome indicators:
    1. Income and productivity increase
    2. Reduction in pesticide residues
    3. Export growth
  4. Demonstrate a feasible business case about the concept. Applicants are also requested to indicate how the project activities fit into their broader long term objectives.
  5. The envisaged timeframe is from 1 January 2018 till 30 June 2020; a shorter period is possible. However, all disbursements need to be finalized by 30 June 2020 and the final narrative and financial reports need to be in by 30 August 2020.

Overall Support from ISSD Plus

  1. 50% co-financing grant for the project’s activities with a maximum of EUR 50.000.
  2. Additional technical support from well experienced agronomists from Wageningen UR and ISSD Uganda.
  3. Active linkage of the company to other companies (international seed companies, buyers, agro-dealers, farmers etc.).

Concept Note Evaluation

After passing the pre-screening of minimum eligibility criteria by ISSD Plus, a Selection Committee will evaluate applications on the basis of 5 criteria:

  • Company track record (20%): The extent to which the applicant and her institution/company are capable of undertaking and accomplishing the proposed activities, based principally on the company background and track record.
  • Problem analysis and objectives (20%): The Concept Note must show an advanced level of understanding of the problems in the vegetable sector; and sets clear priorities. The problem analysis and objectives show a logical flow, and the envisaged solutions are realistic.
  • Sector impact and scalability (20%): The envisaged outputs and outcomes of the project will have an impact beyond the individual company’s benefits; e.g. in terms of smallholder farmers reached. The results can be replicated at other locations in a cost-effective way.
  • Innovativeness (20%): This is the degree to which the proposed products and/or services are new to the country; and show a high level of novelty. The grant contribution may not create unfair competition with similar products and services that are already in the market.
  • Value for money (20%): The relationship between the co-financing grant that is requested and the significance and quality of the projected outcomes (as mentioned above in the objectives). It also relates to the ambition level of the proposal, e.g. in terms of number of farmers/farm workers targeted or productivity increase aimed at. In addition, this indicator assesses whether the resources requested are
    reasonable in the context of the proposed project.

Concept Note Submission

Concept Notes need to be submitted on or before Friday 29 September, 2017, 5 pm EAT. Submitted documentation should include:

  1. A fully filled in Concept Note form including:
    1. A completed budget in line with the budget format
    2. Fully filled in and signed signature page
  2. A scanned business license as an Annex, and support letter (if required).

All documents need to be addressed and sent to the ISSD Uganda Innovation Fund by e-mail to.

You will receive a confirmation of your application within one week. Results will be announced before the 27th of October, 2017. Selected companies can then submit a full Project Proposal.

ISSD coordinators
and partners: