Gates Foundation Joins Global Trust Fund To Support Small Farmers

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23rd April 2010, 04:10am - Views: 1057

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Gates Foundation Joins Global Trust Fund to Support Small Farmers

WASHINGTON, Apr. 23 /PRNewswire-AsiaNet/ --

     Bill Gates calls agriculture investments "incredibly effective" way to

                       reduce hunger and poverty

    Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, joined

representatives of the governments of the United States, Canada, Spain, and

South Korea at the U.S. Department of the Treasury today to launch a global

trust fund to help the world's poorest farmers grow more and earn more so

they can lift themselves -- and their countries -- out of hunger and poverty.

    Initial contributions to the fund total nearly $900 million, including a $30

million commitment from the foundation. Proposed by the G20 last year after

the economic crisis and rising food prices pushed the number of hungry people

to 1 billion, the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program is a concrete

step to translate $22 billion in food security pledges into action.

    "Investing in small farmers is an incredibly effective way to combat

hunger and extreme poverty -- history has proved it many times," said Gates,

whose foundation has committed $1.5 billion to date to agricultural

development. "The launch of this fund is an important step forward, but only

a first step. Other countries meeting at the European, G8 and G20 summits in

June, and at the U.N. Summit in September should join the four founding

partners and make good on their pledges. If we all sustain focus until the

job is done, hundreds of millions of people will lead better lives."

    According to the World Bank, about three-quarters of the 1 billion people

who live in extreme poverty depend on agriculture for a living. Even if they

manage to grow a surplus, they often lack a reliable market in which to sell

it. Despite these challenges, there are reasons for optimism in the fight

against hunger.

    "This renewed investment in agricultural development is excellent news

for our small farmers, who face degraded soil, pests, disease, and a changing

climate as they struggle to feed their families and overcome poverty," said

Kofi Annan, former U.N. secretary-general and current chair of the board of

the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). "The multi-donor trust

fund is a smart and efficient way to harmonize donor support with country-led

efforts that are already showing impressive results. With solid and sustained

investments in agriculture and strong partnerships across sectors, we can

build on this progress and create a more just and food-secure world."

    In a recent Gallup survey in 18 countries in sub-Saharan Africa,

residents listed agriculture and jobs as the most important issues their

governments should address in the next year. Small farmers need a

comprehensive, long-term approach that is sustainable for the economy and the

environment. That means improved seeds, tools and training, access to markets

where they can sell their surplus, and better policies to support their

efforts. Hosted by the World Bank, the trust fund will focus on countries

with strong national plans that are already using their own resources on

these kinds of effective interventions.

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    African countries are already taking the lead. In 2004, African heads of

state pledged 10 percent of their national budgets to achieve 6 percent

annual growth in agriculture. In 2008, 20 African countries achieved the 6

percent target. In Rwanda, investment in agriculture rose by 30 percent from

2007 to 2009. In 2008, the country reported that its agricultural production

increased 15 percent.

    The foundation's investments and partnerships in Africa and South Asia

are already yielding promising results:

    - The African-led organization AGRA and its partners have released more

      than 100 new varieties of improved seeds across the continent, educated

      thousands of local agro-dealers, and trained more than 280,000 farmers.

    - In India, low-cost treadle pumps have provided 100,000 farmers with new

      microirrigation technologies that have helped double their incomes.

    - New rice varieties that withstand flooding have helped farmers in

      flood-prone areas of India avoid losing their entire crops. The project 

      has exceeded production targets fivefold due to high demand from 

      farmers and strong government support, especially in India.

    - Farmers in East Africa using new varieties of maize that produce

      greater yields in drought conditions produced up to 30 percent more 

      maize than those without the improved seeds.

    - The World Food Programme has contracted to purchase nearly 50,000

      metric tons of food from small farmers in the same countries where the 

      food will be eaten, instead of buying it from big traders or shipping 

      it from other countries.

    "The world knows what works," said Gates. "I am convinced that with a

combination of great partnerships and shared commitment, we can help the

world's small farmers overcome hunger and extreme poverty."

    Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda

Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In

developing countries, it focuses on improving people's health and giving them

the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the

United States, it seeks to ensure that all people -- especially those with

the fewest resources -- have access to the opportunities they need to succeed

in school and life. Based in Seattle, Washington, the foundation is led by

CEO Jeff Raikes and Co-chair William H. Gates Sr., under the direction of

Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett. Learn more at or join the conversation at Facebook


    Broadcast-quality footage and other materials are available at:

SOURCE: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

    CONTACT: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, 




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