The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has announced two partnerships and grants totaling $48 million to help hundreds of thousands of small cocoa and cashew farmers in sub-Saharan Africa increase their incomes. The grants were awarded as part of a $90 million initiative that includes $42 million in cash and in-kind contributions from private industry.
As part of its Agricultural Development initiative, the foundation awarded $23 million to the Washington, D.C.-based World Cocoa Foundation and $25 million to the German development organization Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) GmbH. Administered by WCF, the cocoa project is designed to help farmers improve the quality and quantity of their crops while providing reliable opportunities for them to sell those crops. Cocoa from West Africa comprises 70 percent of the world's supply.
Africa also produces roughly one-third of the world's cashew crop, but the lack of processing facilities has resulted in major market inefficiencies and reduced economic benefits for local growers. Administered by GTZ, with assistance from the African Cashew Alliance, Netherlands-based FairMatch Support, and D.C.-based TechnoServe, the cashew project is designed to help 150,000 cashew-farming households in Benin, Burkina Faso, C�te d'Ivoire, Ghana, and Mozambique increase their incomes by 50 percent by 2012.
"Making real progress against global hunger and poverty starts with small farmers," said Dr. Rajiv Shah, director of agricultural development at the Gates Foundation. "Creative partnerships like these bring together the knowledge of locally based NGOs and governments with the technical know-how and market expertise of private-sector firms, and have the potential to help millions of farmers boost their yields and incomes so they can improve their lives."