The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has announced a three-year, $300 million commitment in support of efforts to help smallholder farmers cope with the effects of climate change.
Announced at the One Planet Summit in Paris this week, the initiative will fund agricultural research aimed at helping farmers in Africa and Asia adapt to the increasingly challenging growing conditions brought about by climate change, including rising temperatures, extreme weather events such as droughts and floods, poor soil fertility, and diseases and pests. The effort will focus on three areas — crop improvement, including boosting photosynthesis to increase crop yields, enhancing crop efficiency, and combining big data with robotics to scan large fields; crop protection through the development of drought- and heat-tolerant varieties and new ways to detect and control diseases; and crop management, including innovations in preserving and enhancing soil fertility.
The foundation, in partnership with the BNP Paribas Foundation and the Agropolis Foundation, also announced the launch of the One Planet Fellowship, a five-year, €15 million ($17.6 million) initiative that will support six hundred young African and European researchers working to help African farmers adapt to climate change.
According to the Gates Foundation, roughly eight hundred million people in Asia and Africa rely on agriculture for their livelihoods, and while these smallholder farmers play a negligible role in generating carbon emissions, they suffer some of the harshest effects of climate change.
"Agriculture is the most promising path out of poverty for individuals and countries," said Bill Gates. "The disproportionate impact of climate change on the world's poorest people means that there is a more urgent need than ever to help the poorest farmers improve their productivity in the increasingly tough conditions that they continue to face."
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