To help improve the lives of millions of small farmers in Africa and other parts of the developing world, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation today announced a $306 million package of agricultural development grants. This funding nearly doubles the foundation's total investments in agriculture since the mid-2006 launch of its Agricultural Development initiative, part of the foundation's Global Development Program. The foundation plans to invest a total of $900 million through 2008 in this area.
"If we are serious about ending extreme hunger and poverty around the world, we must be serious about transforming agriculture for small farmers—most of whom are women," said Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. "These investments—from improving the quality of seeds, to developing healthier soil, to creating new markets—will pay off not only in children fed and lives saved. They can have a dramatic impact on poverty reduction as families generate additional income and improve their lives."
As described in the grant announcement, the specific grants are to:
- Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA)
African Soil Health Program: $164.5 million
To revitalize Africa's severely depleted soils in order to increase the fertility and sustainability of small-scale farms and raise the yield and income of farmers, thus alleviating hunger and poverty. The project aims to boost the incomes and improve the well-being of more than 4.1 million smallholder farmers through 50 to 100 percent increases in their crop yields.
- International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)
Stress-Tolerant Rice for Poor Farmers in Africa and South Asia: $19.8 million
To reduce poverty and hunger and increase food and income security of resource-poor farm families and rice consumers in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa through the development and dissemination of stress tolerant rice. Within three years, the project expects that 300,000 farmers in South Asia and 100,000 farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa will have adopted the initial set of improved varieties.
- International Development Enterprises (IDE)
India MicroIrrigation: Enabling Smallholder Prosperity: $27 million
To develop affordable microirrigation technologies for small farmers, create the private sector supply chain to deliver the technologies, promote and train farmers to use microirrigation, and link farmers to high-value crop markets. In partnership with IDE-India, the project expects to reach 250,000 smallholder farmers with microirrigation technologies in four years, significantly increasing their net annual income.
Doubling Coffee Incomes in East Africa: $46.9 million
To help small farmers in East Africa increase their coffee prices by improving coffee quality, and increasing high-quality coffee production and training to link them to premium coffee buyers. Over four years, the project aims to double the coffee incomes of 182,000 smallholder coffee farmers.
- Heifer International
East Africa Dairy Development: $42.8 million
To help small dairy farmers in Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda double their income by developing stronger links to the formal sector, while at the same time increasing the quality of their milk to sell into the traditional sector. Within four years, Heifer International and its partners expect to double the dairy incomes of 179,000 smallholder dairy farmers.
Strengthening the Dairy Value Chain in Bangladesh: $5.2 million
To improve the incomes of landless and small farmers by enhancing their participation in the milk value chain through increased production, improved quality, enhanced animal health services and better access to transport and markets. In partnership with CARE Bangladesh, the project aims to link 35,000 farmer households to the dairy value chain over four years.
For more information: