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News Release 13-058

NSF Launches $10,000 BREAD Ideas Challenge

Researchers are asked to submit what they see as the greatest challenges facing small farmers and their families in developing nations who rely on their crops for their food and income

Smallholder farm house surrounded by trees in rural Kenya

Smallholder farms help support villages with a diverse arrangement of plants and animal life.

April 1, 2013

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation today launched the BREAD Ideas Challenge, a prize competition for the Basic Research to Enable Agricultural Development (BREAD) program.

The BREAD Ideas Challenge is an opportunity for researchers in the agricultural sciences to identify, in 100 words or fewer, what they believe are today's most pressing issues facing smallholder farmers in the developing world. Up to 25 winners will receive $10,000 USD each and their ideas will be showcased on the BREAD Ideas Challenge website to draw international attention to these important challenges.

Ideas are now being accepted at the BREAD Ideas Challenge website from applicants in the United States and around the world.

"The BREAD Ideas Challenge builds on the success of the BREAD program by stimulating and eliciting new ideas from the global research community," said John Wingfield, NSF assistant director for Biological Sciences. "We expect the prizewinning ideas to catalyze new international collaborations that will explore untested, but potentially transformative, basic research that could improve the lives of smallholder farmers in the developing world."

Interested researchers have until 5 p.m. EDT, April 30, 2013 to submit their ideas describing a challenge or research focus consistent with BREAD Program objectives. The BREAD Ideas Challenge is open to graduate students, postdoctoral associates and faculty at universities, colleges and non-profit research organizations in the United States and internationally.

Entries will be judged by an internal panel of experts from NSF and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Final selections and eligibility will be determined by NSF program staff. Prizes for U.S. winners whose ideas fall within the scope of NSF's Plant Genome Research Program, which financially supports the BREAD program, will be paid from NSF funds. All other prizes, including those to international winners, will be supported by funds from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which also financially supports BREAD.

After announcing the BREAD Ideas Challenge winners, the BREAD program will begin accepting Early Concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER) proposals that address one or more of the Ideas Challenge winning entries or other ideas within the scope of the BREAD Program. Information about BREAD is available at the BREAD program website. Awards made through the first three BREAD competitions can be found on NSF's Directorate for Biological Sciences awards webpage for BREAD.

For contest rules and more information on the BREAD Ideas Challenge, go to the BREAD Ideas Challenge website or email


Media Contacts
Bobbie Mixon, NSF, (703) 292-8485, email:

Program Contacts
Diane Jofuku Okamuro, NSF, (703) 292-4400, email:

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2023 budget of $9.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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