The Seattle-based Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation in New York City have formed an alliance to foster a new "green revolution" in Africa that will dramatically increase the productivity of small farms, moving tens of millions of people out of poverty and significantly reducing hunger.
With an initial investment of $100 million from the Gates Foundation and $50 million from the Rockefeller Foundation, the partnership, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), will support the Program for Africa's Seed Systems (PASS). PASS, in turn, will mount a five-year, $43 million effort to improve the availability and variety of seeds that can produce higher yields in the often harsh conditions of sub-Saharan Africa. In addition, PASS will invest $20 million to provide graduate-level training in African universities for the next generation of crop breeders and agricultural scientists; $24 million to ensure that improved crop varieties are produced and distributed; $37 million to establish at least 10,000 small agro-dealers; and $26 million for a new organization based in Nairobi, Kenya, to monitor and evaluate PASS projects.
The $150 million is described as a "first investment," and both foundations are being careful to stress that success will take decades to achieve. Over the past seven years, the Rockefeller Foundation, which launched the original Green Revolution in Latin America and South and Southeast Asia between the 1940s and 1960s, has spent nearly $150 million working on similar projects in Africa.
While the original Green Revolution was largely successful, agricultural trends in Africa are moving in the other direction, said Rockefeller Foundation president Judith Rodin. "Over the past fifteen years, the number of Africans living on less than a dollar a day has increased by 50 percent. Working with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and with African leaders, farmers, and scientists, we're committed to launching an African Green Revolution that will help tens of millions of people who are living on the brink of starvation."