Gates Foundation Awards $120 Million to Help Small Farmers

Gates Foundation Awards $120 Million to Help Small Farmers

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has announced nine grants totaling $120 million to organizations working to help small-holder farmers around the world grow enough to lift themselves out of hunger and poverty.

The announcement was made by Gates Foundation co-chair Bill Gates during his address to the Borlaug Dialogue symposium hosted by the World Food Prize in Des Moines, Iowa. Among other things, Gates called on governments, donors, researchers, farmer groups, environmentalists, and others to join forces to help millions of the world's poorest farming families boost their yields and incomes. While paying tribute to the late Nobel Peace Prize laureate Norman Borlaug, the scientist whose research helped catalyze the original Green Revolution, Gates also laid out the foundation's agricultural development plan, which includes investments in developing better seeds, improving access to markets, and policies that support small farmers.

The grants include $21.25 million to the International Potato Center in Lima, Peru, to develop high-yielding stress-tolerant varieties of sweet potato for farming families in sub-Saharan Africa; $19 million to Wageningen University in the Netherlands to expand the use of selected legumes, proven tools of biological nitrogen fixation, and sound agronomic principles for small-holder farmers in Africa; $18 million to the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics in Patancheru, India, to help small-holder farmers in moisture-deficient areas of sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia increase their yields of sorghum, pearl millet, and finger millet; and $15 million to the Nairobi-based Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa to develop a policy support system to raise incomes and boost household and national food security in Africa.

"Melinda and I believe that helping the poorest small-holder farmers grow more crops and get them to market is the world's single most powerful lever for reducing hunger and poverty," Gates said. "The next Green Revolution has to be greener than the first. It must be guided by small-holder farmers, adapted to local circumstances, and sustainable for the economy and the environment."

For a complete list of grants, visit the Gates Foundation Web site.

"Bill Gates to Call for United Action to Support World's Poorest Farmers." Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Press Release 10/14/2009.