Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Gates Foundation announced nine new projects at World Food Prize event

October 15, 2009. The Gates Foundation used the appearance at the World Food Prize events to announce nine new projects totalling $120 million. The foundation’s new grants include funding for legumes that fix nitrogen in the soil, higher yielding varieties of sorghum and millet, and new varieties of sweet potatoes that resist pests and have a higher vitamin content. Other projects will help the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa support African governments in developing policies that serve small farmers; help get information to farmers by radio and cell phone; support school feeding programs; provide training and resources that African governments can draw on as they regulate biotechnologies; and help women farmers in India manage their land and water resources sustainably. To date, the foundation has committed $1.4 billion to agricultural development efforts.

Bill Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, delivered his first major address on agriculture at the 2009 Borlaug Dialogue. Read the transcript of the speech here.

Following his address, Gates was joined on stage by 2009 World Food Prize Laureate Gebisa Ejeta for a question and answer session focused on agricultural development in Africa.

Washington Post 16/10 Gates's Fields of Dreams
The better breeds of the first green revolution are not as relevant to Africa. "In India and China," says Gates, "corn, wheat and rice are over 80 percent of output. In Africa, these are 40 to 50 percent. There are a ton of other things -- cassava, sorghum, millet." Improving the crops of the poor has not gotten much focus from scientists and agribusiness. In addition, Africa "has more variety of ecosystems -- you see huge variations," which demands more hearty seed varieties of every type. So Gates is attempting to fill a gap -- to encourage both the development of crops ignored by the market economy and the provision of those crops to Africans, royalty-free.

The Guardian 28/10 Climate change will devastate Africa, top UK scientist warns
Professor Sir Gordon Conway, the outgoing chief scientist at the UK's Department for International Development, and former head of the philanthropic Rockefeller Foundation, argued in a new scientific paper (pdf) that the continent is already warming faster than the global average and that people living there can expect more intense droughts, floods and storm surges.