Rwandan farmers to benefit from Bill Gates funding

Rwanda is among the African countries that will benefit from the new funding by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to boost agriculture and food security in developing economies.
Gates fund set to spur commerncial farming (file photo)
Gates fund set to spur commerncial farming (file photo)

Rwanda is among the African countries that will benefit from the new funding by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to boost agriculture and food security in developing economies.

Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation yesterday announced $120m (Rwf67.9 billion) in new agriculture grant to nine initiatives aimed at boosting agricultural productivity and farmers’ lives in developing countries.

According to a press statement from the Foundation, the project aims to reach up to 280,000 small-holder farmers, reduce the cost of adoption of new and improved practices by 25 percent to 50 percent, and ultimately provide a model that can be scaled to reach millions of small-holder farmers throughout Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

Announcing the new funding at World Food Prize meeting in Iowa, USA, Bill Gates, the founder of computer giants Microsoft urged governments, donors, researchers, farmer groups, and environmentalists to work together and with all other people interested in improving farming.

He said the funding is aimed at helping small holder farmers to boost their yields and incomes so they can lift themselves out of hunger and poverty.

Gates says it will boost investments in better seeds, training, market access, and policies that support small holder farmers to grow enough to build better, healthier lives.

“Melinda and I believe that helping the poorest small-holder farmers grow more crops and get them to market is the world’s single most powerful lever for reducing hunger and poverty,” Gates said.

The focus will be on helping the poorest small-holder farmers grow more crops and get them to the market so they earn money while also retaining enough food for their feeding.

The Professional Assistance for Development Action (PRADAN) and NforAfrica (by Wageningen University of The Netherlands) were awarded $9.7m and $19m respectively.

The PRADAN project will create sustainable farm-based livelihoods for rural families in poor regions of India by training women farmers in land and water management and modern farming practices, establishing village extension services, and building effective market linkages.

The NforAfrica will increase legume productivity, family nutrition, soil health, cropping systems, and farm income for small farmers in Burkina Faso, Mali, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, and Malawi by expanding the use of selected legumes, proven tools of biological nitrogen fixation, and sound agronomic principles.

The funding comes at a time statistics show that Rwanda has a food surplus of six months from July to December 2009 as a result of good harvest since the year began.

Rwanda’s overall agricultural production for the 2009 season between February and June went up by 6.5 percent as compared with the same season in 2008.

The funding is a big boost to the farmers who are reportedly incurring heavy losses estimated at 15 percent of the total harvest.

It is also a boost to the government initiative of increasing national productivity. In the 2009/10 budget government allocated Rwf87.9 billion to the productive sector which mainly looks at the agriculture.

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