Promoting Clean Technologies ^ Forging Cross-Industry Collaboration

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Supports Sustainable Agricultural Development through Science & Technology

In agriculture, Bioscience, Biotechnology, Environment, finance, greentech, investment, Science, Sustainable, Technology on October 20, 2009 at 10:42 am

The following is taken from parts of the Gates Foundation’s website

Frequently Asked Questions About Agricultural Development – Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation support programs that will enable small farmers to break the cycle of hunger and poverty—to sell what they grow or raise, increase their incomes, and make their farms more productive and sustainable.
“We fund projects with partners who”:
  • Employ a collaborative and comprehensive approach.
  • Provide small farmers with the supplies and support they need to succeed.
  • Put women at the center of their work.
  • Help small farmers profit from their crops.
  • Use science and technology to develop crops that can thrive.

Updates on Funded Projects
During the original Green Revolution, overuse of fertilizer led to unanticipated environmental consequences. Today, we consider potential environmental impacts in all of our grantmaking, and are committed to a sustainable model of agriculture that takes into account the needs of both farmers and the environment. So while Africa’s severely depleted soils require fertilizer, we promote judicious and efficient uses of fertilizer, and more intensive use of organic matter. We also invest in efforts to improve soil and water conservation techniques.

Another unanticipated consequence of the original Green Revolution was increased inequity in some areas. Our work is focused on providing small farmers living on less than a dollar a day—most of whom are women—with tools and opportunities to lift themselves out of hunger and poverty. We and our grantees work to involve small farmers in the design and evaluation of our projects, to ensure that our work meets their needs and addresses the realities they face in their local areas.

Another difference is that the original Green Revolution focused primarily on raising the yields of two staple crops: rice and wheat. Africa’s diverse agroecological zones and varied conditions will require a much greater range of approaches, from boosting productivity in a wider range of crops to developing crops that are resistant to drought, disease, and pests. We are working to carefully understand the different needs of small farmers throughout the continent and are designing our efforts to respond to their specific circumstances.

This new Green Revolution is broad based and includes significant African leadership on a number of levels. We are working with a wide range of partners to strengthen the entire agricultural value chain—from seeds and soil to farm management and market access—so that progress is sustainable over the long-term. We are also working to involve and empower women—who are integral to success in agriculture—at every level of our work.

Q: Do you pay attention to the environmental impact of your agricultural grantmaking?

A: Yes—we consider potential environmental impacts in all of our grantmaking. Our approach is to support both poor farmers and the environment.Population growth and poor soil health in Africa have forced farmers to clear and cultivate more marginal lands, often leading to erosion, deforestation, and sometimes desertification. In Asia, the misuse of fertilizers and irrigation has caused large areas of land to be lost to acidification and salinization.

We understand these are not sustainable ways to produce food or preserve the environment. In revitalizing small-scale farm production we are funding approaches that support small farmers and are ecologically sound.

Q: Does the foundation promote the use of fertilizers?

A: Healthy soil is critical to farm productivity, and the judicious use of organic and mineral fertilizers can help small farmers prosper while preserving their land.We support AGRA’s Soil Health Program, which focuses on integrated soil fertility management as well as the use of fertilizers where necessary to provide important plant nutrients missing from the soil and from organic materials available to the farmer. We invest in information and knowledge-sharing to assist small farmers in using the right fertilizers in the right way to nourish their soil. We also invest in efforts to improve soil and water conservation techniques.

We are committed to sustainable agriculture, using farming supplies that farmers can afford and that take environmental needs into account.

Q: What is the foundation doing about climate change?

A: The foundation believes that climate change is a major issue facing all of us, particularly poor people in developing countries, and we applaud the work that many are doing to help find solutions in this area. While the foundation does not fund efforts specifically aimed at reducing carbon emissions, many of our Agricultural Development grants directly address problems that climate change creates or exacerbates. For example, we have made several grants to help small farmers who live on less than $1 per day adapt to increased drought and flooding through the development of drought and flood resistant crops, improved irrigation efficiency, and other means.

Advertisements
  1. No problem- good luck
    DePo Masthead by Derek Powazek/Noel Jackson

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: