Gates Foundation CEO Jeff Raikes Calls for Innovation and Partnership to Help the World's Smallholder Farmers Overcome Hunger and Poverty

By Bill Melinda Gates Foundation, PRNE
Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Speaking at the World Food Prize, Raikes says, 'What's required of us is our unfailing commitment to the cause of agricultural development'

DES MOINES, Iowa, October 14, 2010 - Jeff Raikes, CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, today called on
governments, donors, researchers, farmers' groups, and others to remain
committed to the cause of agricultural development as climate change, water
scarcity, and economic conditions create new challenges for the world's
poorest farming families.

Speaking at the World Food Prize in Des Moines, Iowa, in his first major
address on agricultural development, Raikes said that agriculture is a proven
pathway out of hunger and poverty. What smallholder farmers need to thrive,
he said, is the continued support of the global agricultural development
community. Raikes called on all members of the community to work together to
help smallholder farmers gain access to better seeds and new agricultural
innovations tailored to meet their needs.

"We can learn more about small farmers, we can innovate to get ahead of
the next challenge, we can form broader, deeper partnerships that allow us to
maximize our impact against poverty and hunger," he said. "What's required of
us is our unfailing commitment to the cause of agricultural development."

Raikes thanked the 2010 World Food Prize laureates and foundation
grantees, David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, and Jo Luck, CEO
of Heifer International, for their leadership in the effort to end hunger and
poverty worldwide. Raikes also highlighted many examples of progress being
made in agricultural development around the world:

- The foundation's grant to the International Rice Research Institute
(IRRI) is making steady progress toward its goal of providing farmers With
heartier varieties of rice that can withstand drought, flood, extreme cold,
and harsh soil conditions. By 2017, a projected 20 million farmers will
benefit from these new varieties. (This and other grantee successes are
detailed in new Agricultural Development Progress Reports
posted on the foundation's website.)

- A new US$2 storage bag is on track to help 1.7 million households in
West and Central Africa increase their annual incomes by an average of
US$150. Developed through a partnership between the foundation and Purdue
, the new triple layer bag protects cowpeas - one of the most
important crops in Africa - from infestation during storage without the use
of pesticides.

- Through substantial agricultural growth over the past 25 years, Ghana
has cut hunger levels by 75 percent.

While commending global investments in agricultural development -
including an increase in U.S. agricultural development assistance to
Sub-Saharan Africa from US$657 million in 2005 to more than US$1.5 billion in
2009 - Raikes said budget pressures are threatening progress. The G20
countries pledged US$22 billion last year to help the poorest farmers
increase their productivity. This year, it's unlikely they will meet their

In April, the foundation joined the governments of the United States,
Canada, Spain, and South Korea to create a global food security trust fund
that is now facing a funding shortfall. Twenty-one countries have made almost
US$1 billion worth of requests from the fund, but there is only about US$130
available. "Countries are interested in this work, there are proven
ways to do it well, but there's a real danger that it won't get done," said

Raikes also called on members of the agricultural development community
to help farmers adapt to climate change. "The places that will suffer the
most severe weather - the volatile temperatures, the changing patterns of
rainfall, the droughts and the floods - are the same places where the poorest
farmers live," he said.

Solutions to these challenges are being developed, according to Raikes. A
project launched by the Mexico-based International Maize and Wheat
Improvement Center (CIMMYT), with support from the foundation and other
partners, is developing drought-tolerant maize varieties to help farmers
adapt to increasingly frequent droughts. More than 2 million farmers in
Africa are already benefitting from higher yields and incomes because of
these new varieties. By 2016, the project is expected to help 40 million
African farmers boost their maize yields by as much as 30 percent. "Progress
against poverty and hunger is not only possible. It's happening," Raikes

To date, the foundation has committed more than US$1.5 billion to
agricultural development efforts. Focused on Sub-Saharan Africa and South
, the foundation's grants aim to strengthen the entire agricultural value
chain - from seeds and soil to farm management and market access - so that
progress against hunger and poverty is sustainable over the long term.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

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
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Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, +1-206-709-3400, media at

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