Gates Foundation Joins Global Trust Fund to Support Small Farmers

By Bill Melinda Gates Foundation, PRNE
Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Bill Gates calls agriculture investments "incredibly effective" way to reduce hunger and poverty

WASHINGTON, April 22, 2010 - 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 US$900 million, including
a US$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 US$22 billion in food security pledges into

"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 US$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.

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."

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
( and Twitter

Broadcast-quality footage and other materials are available at:

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

will not be displayed