The Alliance for a Green Revolution (AGRA) — a collaboration between the Rockefeller and Bill & Melinda Gates foundations — has announced a new partnership with the U.S. government's Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) to help African countries tackle poverty and hunger through productivity improvements at small-scale farms and poor rural households.
MCC and AGRA will work to identify projects and activities with the potential to foster broad-based agricultural growth and poverty alleviation. Likely areas of activity include building roads, irrigation, and other agriculture-related infrastructure; advancing agriculture research; multiplication of seed; distribution of technologies to small-scale farmers; increasing access to financing for farmers, farmer groups, and agribusiness; improving dry and cold storage, food processing, and other "value-added" systems; and working toward a policy environment that is more conducive for domestic agricultural growth, investment, and trade.
Projects will begin initially in Ghana, Madagascar, and Mali. In Ghana, AGRA and the government's Millennium Development Authority will work to launch a public-private dialogue with seed industry stakeholders regarding current seed policy and to gain consensus on reform measures that best enable companies and public institutions to improve distribution. In Madagascar, where rice yields remain among the poorest in the world, AGRA and MCA-Madagascar will use MCC-funded agricultural business centers in at least three agricultural zones to expand seed multiplication and distribution systems. In Mali, AGRA will direct investments in crop research, seed development, and agro-dealer network development into the Alatona region.
"Collaborations such as ours are essential to putting in place long-term solutions to the food crisis," said AGRA chairman and former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. "It is incumbent upon us, as major supporters of agricultural development, to approach development differently than it has been approached in the past, in order to propel progress on the ground."