Saturday, 10 March 2012

Bill foots the bill

Bill Gates is continuing his commitment to improving the productivity of smallholder farmers by making available nearly $200m in grants for projects aimed at helping the farmers. He called on the big UN food agencies to work together to create a global productivity target for small farmers. The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation has committed more than $2bn to smallholder farmers since 2006, and this latest amount will be reinvested in projects covering new varieties of drought-tolerant maize, vaccines for livestock and training for agro-dealers to equip and train farmers. "If you care about the poorest, you care about agriculture," Gates told the International Fund for Agricultural Development (Ifad) in Rome recently. "Investments in agriculture are the best weapons against hunger and poverty, and they have made life better for billions of people. The international agriculture community needs to be more innovative, co-ordinated, and focused to help poor farmers grow more. If we can do that, we can dramatically reduce suffering and build self-sufficiency." Gates urged Ifad, the World Food Programme (WFP), and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to commit to a concrete, measurable target for increasing agricultural productivity. He also called on them to support a system of public score cards in the interests of transparency for themselves, donors, and the countries they support. "The goal is to move from examples of success to sustainable productivity increases to hundreds of millions of people moving out of poverty," said Gates.

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