Gates Foundation gives AGRA $56m to help smallholder farmers in sub-Sahara Africa
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has provided $56 million to the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) to assist smallholder farmers in sub-Sahara Africa increase productivity and address poverty and hunger.
In a press release issued in Nairobi, Kenya and copied to ghanabusinessnews.com, AGRA said the funds will be applied under its Africa’s Seed Systems (PASS) programme which began five years ago to produce disease resistant and higher yielding seeds for important food crops available.
According to AGRA, this is one of seven grants Mr. Bill Gates announced in Rome at the 35th Session of the Governing Council of the International Fund for Agricultural Development. This announcement, nearly $200 million in grants, brings the foundation’s total commitment to agriculture to more than $2 billion since the programme began in 2006.
It indicates that by 2017, PASS will add 40 new private, independent seed companies to the 60 already established under the first phase of the programme. The programme’s aim it says, is to achieve yearly production of 200,000 metric tons of improved seed for food crops such as maize, cassava, and legumes to support 10 million smallholder farmers.
AGRA says the programme will continue to support the education of local crop scientists ensuring that every major crop in 13 countries has at least one fully-qualified crop breeder.
PASS it says, will also fund the training of an additional 5,000 agro-dealers to set up individually-owned and operated seed and fertilizer shops in remote areas.
“These efforts will build structures to get improved seed in the hands of smallholder farmers to increase production and decrease dependence on aid,” the organisation said.
By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi