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DFID and Gates join up on agricultural research

Co-funded grants aim to reduce poverty in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia as world food prices mount

UK Government and Gates Foundation partner to support agricultural research and boost productivity of poor farmers

DFID and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation today announced a coordinated effort to reduce hunger and poverty in developing countries by supporting agricultural research projects to help small farmers increase their yields and incomes. DFID and the foundation will work together to identify the projects, and the foundation’s agricultural development initiative will manage them.

The collaboration will focus on dealing with the most serious threats to food production in the developing world–such as crop diseases, pests, poor soil quality, and extreme weather–and tackle these threats from multiple angles to develop long-term, sustainable solutions.

Scientific research that helps farmers produce more and better food using fewer resources is critical for combating hunger. Farmers also need access to new tools, better training, reliable markets, and supportive policies. However, insufficient attention and resources have been given to supporting this key poverty- and hunger-reducing research.

“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 the UK’s International Development Minister Andrew Mitchell. “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.”

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