Gates Foundation Awards $11 Million to Develop Higher-Yielding Rice

The International Rice Research Institute has announced a three-year, $11 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help develop rice strains that boost yields by up to 50 percent for smallholder farmers in Africa and Asia.

Awarded in partnership with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), the grant will be used to fund three projects: Stress-Tolerant Rice for Poor Farmers in Africa and South Asia (STRASA), which will work to develop and distribute improved varieties of rice that can be grown in rain-fed ecosystems and withstand environmental stresses such as drought, submergence, and salinity; the Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia (CSISA), which is designed to produce an additional 5 million tons of grain annually within ten years while increasing the yearly incomes of 6 million poor rural households; and a third project that will work to convert rice from C3 photosynthesis to the more efficient C4 photosynthesis.

"The agreement will develop, promote, and accelerate rice research and training efforts between IRRI and ICAR," said IRRI director general Robert S. Zeigler. "The renewed collaboration will also provide important support for India's other investments in agriculture and help India strengthen its science capacity."

"New, Higher-Yielding Rice Plant Could Ease Threat of Hunger for Poor." Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Press Release 01/14/2009. "New Agreement Opens Avenues for Strengthening Indian Rice Research." International Rice Research Institute Press Release 01/20/2009.