The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has announced six grants totaling $306 million for agricultural projects designed to boost the yields and incomes of millions of small farmers in Africa and other parts of the developing world. The grants nearly double the dollar amount of the investments in agriculture made by the foundation since the 2006 launch of its Agricultural Development initiative.
The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) will receive the largest award, $164.5 million, to establish a soil health program that complements its existing Seeds Program and helps small-scale farmers make full use of new high-yielding varieties of Africa's staple food crops. The Rockefeller Foundation will contribute an additional $15 million to the program.
The foundation also awarded grants to CARE ($5.2 million), Heifer International ($42.8 million), International Development Enterprises ($27 million), the International Rice Research Institute ($19.8 million), and TechnoServe ($46.9 million) to support work in country, including the development of local science, technology, farmer extension services, and market systems.
The foundation believes that with strong partnerships and a redoubled commitment to agricultural development by donor and developing country governments, philanthropy, and the private sector, hundreds of millions of small farmers can lift themselves out of poverty. To that end, it plans to invest a total of $900 million in agricultural programs through 2008.
"If we are serious about ending extreme hunger and poverty around the world, we must be serious about transforming agriculture for small farmers, most of whom are women," said Gates. "These investments — from improving the quality of seeds, to developing healthier soil, to creating new markets — will pay off not only in children fed and lives saved. They can have a dramatic impact on poverty reduction as families generate additional income and improve their lives."
For additional information about the grants, visit the foundation's Web site.