The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has teamed up with the UK's Department for International Development, announcing a $102 million, five-year initiative to combat hunger and poverty within developing countries. The partnership will support agricultural research projects, aiming to help boost the profit and yield of small farms within regions that receive funding. It will address the threats that are most serious to the areas, such as food production, crop disease, pests, poor soil quality and extreme weather.
"For many of the poorest people in Africa and Southern Asia, the crops they grow not only provide most of their food but also an important source of income. It’s these people who are hit hardest by food price spikes," said Andrew Mitchell, the UK’s International Development Minister.
"Working with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, we can drive new ways to make direct improvements in people’s lives, whether by making disease-resistant crops more widely available so that small-scale farmers can grow and sell more, or by developing crops with added nutritional benefits that will give their families a better diet," she said.
In its first round of funding, a $40 million award will go to the Durable Rust Resistance in Wheat project at Cornell University, which is working to create varieties of wheat that are resistant to strains of stem rust disease. This disease has been running rampant throughout East Africa, threatening the world's wheat supply. In addition, $3 million will be awarded to Diagnostics for All to develop inexpensive testing for small farmers to use to improve milk quality and quantity produced by their cows. It will also benefit the safety of cereal grains.