UK Government and Gates Foundation Partner to Support Agricultural Research, Boost Productivity of Poor Farmers

By Bill Melinda Gates Foundation Department For International Development, PRNE
Saturday, February 26, 2011

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

LONDON and SEATTLE, February 27, 2011 - The Department for International Development (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."

This co-funding partnership comes as escalating food prices are putting
millions at risk of hunger and malnutrition and threatening economic and
social stability throughout the world. In January, the United Nations Food
and Agriculture Organization's price index hit an all-time high, with prices
for everything from rice to maize to sugar to meat surpassing 2008 levels.

"We applaud DFID for taking a leadership role in supporting agricultural
research," said Sylvia Mathews Burwell, president of the Global Development
Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "We hope other governments in
both the developed and developing world and donors will follow the UK's lead
and increase investments to provide small-scale farmers with the tools they
need to improve their yields so they can feed their families and overcome

Through this new collaboration, Cornell University is receiving US$40
(pounds Sterling 25 million) to continue its work to develop wheat
varieties that are resistant to emerging strains of stem rust disease, such
as Ug99, which are spreading out of East Africa and threatening the world's
wheat supply. Because wheat represents approximately 30 percent of the
world's production of grain crops and nearly half of that production will be
harvested in developing countries, protecting wheat supplies is critical to
global food security.

Since 2008, when the Durable Rust Resistance in Wheat (DRRW) project at
Cornell was first funded by the foundation, researchers have distributed new
stem rust resistant wheat varieties for testing and evaluation to more than
125 sites in 40 countries. They have strengthened rust screening nurseries in
Kenya and Ethiopia and distributed nearly five tons of Ug99-resistant seed
for planting in seven countries that are at high risk for food insecurity,
including Ethiopia, Kenya, Egypt, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and

Under Cornell's leadership, the DRRW collaboration now involves 18
leading universities and research institutes throughout the world, as well as
scientists and farmers from more than 40 countries.

A second grant of $3 million (pounds 1.9 million) was awarded to
Diagnostics for All (DFA). DFA will develop inexpensive diagnostic tests that
small farmers can use to improve the quantity and quality of milk produced by
their cows and the safety of cereal grains. The new tests, which will cost
only pennies, will check for bovine pregnancy, milk quality, and a common
toxin found in grain. Small farmers across Africa depend on livestock to
supplement their food and income. By eliminating the high cost of these
tests, and making them more accessible to small farmers, these technologies
will make livestock more productive. Farmers will be able to improve their
own food security and make more money by allowing cows to produce more milk
each year.

DFID is contributing approximately US$32 million (pounds 20 million) over
the next five years to this partnership, and the foundation is providing
US$70 million (pounds 44 million). Funding will support efforts that quickly
put new technologies into the hands of small farmers, such as new seeds and
robust, low-cost diagnostic tools; advance existing efforts by researchers,
crop breeders, and development programs to help small farmers manage crop
diseases and grow more nutritious crops; and support agricultural research
that promotes cutting-edge scientific innovations.

Department for International Development

The Department for International Development (DFID) is the part of the UK
government that manages Britain's aid to poor countries and works to get rid
of extreme poverty. It is working to reach the Millennium Development Goals
(MDGs), the international targets agreed to by the United Nations (UN) to
halve world poverty by 2015. For more information, go to

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

Cornell University: Linda McCandless, +1-607-227-5920 (m) or +1-607-255-2696 (w), llm3 at; Diagnostics for All: Jeff Krasner, +1-617-840-9806, Jeff at; DFID: Chris Kiggell, +44-(0)-20-7023-0504, C-Kiggell at; Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation: +1-206-709-3400, media at

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