USAID extends partnership with University of Illinois

September 19, 2018

This month, USAID awarded $6,000,000 to the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Soybean Value Chain Research (Soybean innovation Lab, SIL) to help build the foundation of the soybean industry in emerging markets, principally in Sub-Saharan Africa. The new three-year award adds to the $10,000,000 awarded in 2013 from USAID as well as multiple external grants totaling $2,400,000.

The University of Illinois, in partnership with the University of Missouri and Mississippi State University, lead the research program operated by 35 researchers in the U.S. and a like number of researchers across Africa, plus numerous public and private sector partners overseas. The team currently operates in 17 countries including Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Pakistan, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, with additional collaborators in Australia, Brazil, Colombia, and South Africa.

SIL utilizes a research for development strategy that directly links its technical knowledge and innovations in support of soybean development partners. These partners include private sector seed companies, the National Agricultural Research System of Africa, processors, food, feed, and livestock companies, input supply firms, NGOs, USAID missions and their contractors, foundations and donor agencies, and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture. SIL’s international team of tropical soybean experts provide the evidence and technical guidance to its partners to enable smart soybean development, economic growth, poverty reduction, and improved livestock and human nutrition from soybean systems. 

SIL’s research and scaling, which started in 2013 in five countries, now comprises a suite of 25 products and services. SIL designed these products for direct uptake and scaling by development partners. Example technologies include local production of affordable harvesting and planting mechanization to reduce labor demands and improve seed and grain quality; a business benchmarking and training program to improve the viability of commercial soy dairy producers; economic and nutritional analyses and recommendations for soyfortified menus to elevate the nutrition level of national school lunches while reducing costs; development and introduction of new high-yielding soybean varieties to improve local seed markets; and guidance on best management practices and optimal input bundles to enable local producers to achieve profitable soybean production.  

For more information about SIL’s suite of products and our activities, or to collaborate, follow us on Twitter @tropicalsoylab and Facebook @soybeaninnovationlab, check out our webpage at or email us at

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