Research and Innovation Fellowship for Agriculture (RIFA)

The 2018 RIFA fellows have been selected! Learn more about the chosen fellows and what their projects are here. Fellows will be traveling from May 2018 to March 2019. The 2019 host application period will begin in August 2018 and the student application period will open in early 2019.

About the Program

The Research and Innovation Fellowship for Agriculture (RIFA) offers early-career professionals enrolled in agricultural and development-oriented graduate programs at all University of California campuses the opportunity to plan, engage and implement two to six-month-long international projects in developing countries.

RIFA Fellows collaborate with a host institution in the country they are working to develop robust projects that address global challenges in agriculture and food systems. Host organizations define the available opportunities and a fellow’s collaborative work contributes integrally to the success and sustainability of ongoing projects and programs. Faculty mentors at the University of California also play an integral role, serving as resources and helping guide Fellows in their projects.

RIFA is funded primarily by the University of California's Global Food Initiative and previously funded by the United States Agency for International Development.

RIFA Project Map

RIFA Fellow Videos

2017 RIFA fellow Alicia Calle explains her research about farmers' engagement with
silvopastoral restoration in Colombia, more videos can be found on our Youtube page.

Information for Student Applicants

The RIFA program is no longer accepting applications for 2018 RIFA fellowships. To be eligible for a RIFA fellowship, you must be enrolled in a graduate program at a University of California campus. Refer to the Application Process section below for details on submitting an application.

Useful Documents: RIFA Application Checklist, Find a RIFA Mentor, RIFA Timeline

Programmatic Expectations and Requirements:

  • Fellows must attend a 4 day intensive project management course in early May in Northern California.
  • Fellows must correspond regularly with their mentors.
  • Fellows submit final communications requirement - either a conference/research poster or a video of research and fellowship experience.

Award Benefits:

  • Students will receive a travel stipend for round-trip airfare.
  • Students will receive a stipend of $1,000 for each month in country (see individual projects for specific funding amounts).
  • Health coverage and pre-travel vaccination costs.

For more information see our programmatic brochure.

Host Institutions

The host application period for 2018 in now closed, hosts for 2019 projects will be recruited starting in October 2018. Hosts can be international NGOs, host country universities, research institutions, or non-US government agencies, as well as local not-for-profit development organization.

Hosting of a RIFA Fellow entails providing them with overseas project or research opportunities with a UC-affiliated organization. These opportunities may be well-defined, or they may identify a broadly defined need within the organization from which the Fellow and the organization could jointly develop a project plan. Projects should address a specific challenge in the agriculture or food systems sector. Fellowships frequently contribute to students’ master or doctoral work. Basic internships where the student works broadly within an organization are not appropriate for RIFA Fellowships

Learn more about hosting a RIFA fellow from our RIFA Host informational flier: 2017 RIFA Host flier.


Mentors are an integral piece of the RIFA Fellowship Program. Mentors may be professors, emeriti, or non-faculty academics affiliated with the University of California. Mentors will work with students to create their implementation plans, build connections with their partners and follow their progress throughout the project cycle.

Program Sustainability

We envision the RIFA program as a challenge to our institutional development office to build an endowment that could expand and sustain this initiative. We will seek the opportunity to demonstrate during the next three years the importance of this program and to reach out to the private sector for support. To learn more see our support flyer.

Information for Current Fellows

Orientation Documents

Liability Form
External Communications
Implementation Plan
Trip Safety Planning
Monthly Reporting Template
Final Reporting Template
Budget Worksheet
Award Letter

Additional Resources

Example of Suitable Monthly Report
Risk Management
Goals and Objectives Presentation
Monitoring and Evaluation
Science Communication Workshop
Theory of Change
Gender Lens Presentation
Stakeholder Analysis
Project Timelines and Gantt Charts
Host-Mentor Handout
Video Scripting
Video Filming Tips
Social Media & Comms Cheat Sheet
Budgeting, Materials,and Resources
Example Budget Template
IRB Information Guide