Complementing McKnight's annual commitment of $4.7 million to the Collaborative Crop Research Program (CCRP), the grant will enable the program to expand its research portfolio and increase support for grantees working to improve food and nutritional security in Latin America and Africa. Through its "community of practice" (CoP) model, the program supports the work of geographically clustered projects on interrelated issues. With the funding from Gates, CCRP will create a CoP in east Africa to better serve current and future grantees; bolster crucial program links to the social sciences; and devote resources to monitoring and evaluation.
The McKnight Foundation has funded plant biology and crop research since the early 1980s and established CCRP in 1994. Today, the program supports twenty-six projects in seventeen countries, promoting sustainable food production and improved nutrition through strategic partnerships among researchers, development organizations, and farmers. Attentive to local cultures and resources, McKnight's funding tends to be focused on underresearched crops in harsh environments where the poorest people live.
"The United Nations estimates more than nine hundred million people are undernourished, living in hunger," said McKnight Foundation president Kate Wolford. "In issues of food security and sustainability, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and McKnight have overlapping interests. This grant will allow McKnight to double its support for research to help some of the world's poorest farmers."