Stories tagged: DfID

Gates Foundation Announces New Effort to Support Smallholder Agriculture

gatesAs food price rises threaten global food security once more, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has announced it will donate $70 million to a new collaboration that will focus on agricultural research projects helping smallholder farmers in Africa and Asia.

The new project will help farmers overcome threats to food production such as crop diseases, pests, poor soils and unreliable weather, to increase crop yields and consequently farm incomes. Also taking part in the project is the UK Department for International Development (DfID) that will contribute $32 million over the next five years to the partnership.

The new partnership is a reaction to the escalating food prices around the world. World Bank data released this month showed higher food prices — mainly for wheat, corn, sugars and edible oils — have pushed 44 million more people in developing countries into extreme poverty since June 2011.

In this new project, technologies such as wheat disease research will be prioritized. Cornell University will be receiving $40 million to continue its work to develop wheat varieties that are resistant to emerging strains of stem rust disease, such as Ug99, which is destroying crops in East Africa.

Major International Research Project to Focus on Boosting Crop Production

Several donors have teamed up for an innovative research initiative that aims to improve food security in developing countries.

The U.K. Department for International Development, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Indian Department of Biotechnology have contributed US$32 million toward the Sustainable Crop Production Research for International Development Initiative. The project aims to back “high-quality basic and strategic biological and biotechnological research” that can help boost the production of major food crops in the developing world within the next five to 10 years.

The U.K. Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, which oversees the program, is inviting researchers to submit proposals for SCPRID funding. The new initiative will fund teams from the UK, India and developing countries to work on research projects to improve the sustainability of vital food crops. The research will particularly investigate ways to improve the disease-resistance and stress-tolerance of staple crops in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Funding will be awarded to teams that can show that their research can improve food security and increase sustainable crop yields within the next 5-10 years.

The application period ends March 31, 2010. More information on the grant competition can be found here.

New Website Helps to Boost Regional Trade Integration in Southern Africa

Picture 3A new website ‘Trade Mark SA’ is providing a platform to discuss how to improve southern Africa’s trade performance and competitiveness for the benefit of poverty reduction in the SADC and COMESA regions.

TMSA is a DFID-funded project involved in supporting and strengthening regional integration and trade issues in Southern Africa. The programme addresses current restraints to trade and proposes solutions, helping to assist African countries and their Regional Economic Communities in order to raise higher growth rates, deepen economic integration reduce trade barriers, build better infrastructure, increase levels of investment, increase competitivenesss, expand exports to regional and international markets, and create more productive jobs for women and men.

The site offers:

  • RSS: Users can subscribe to RSS feeds on topics of interest. This includes country and thematic news feeds, with the option of following a BRIC-focused news feed that is specially compiled to show all activities by the BRIC countries in the region.
  • Reports: The “Seen This?” section on the home page captures new reports issues be other agencies.
  • Events: The site offers a comprehensive calendar of events taking place in southern Africa month by month.
  • Transport map: An interactive map shows the current transportation links throughout the region, covering roads, rail networks, ports and energy lines.

A sister project to Trade Mark SA focuses on promoting regional trade and economic integration in East Africa. Trade Mark East Africa functions throughout the EAC region, working with governments, business and civil society organisations to deepen regional integration for the benefit of East Africa’s development.

DfID Funds Infrastructure, ‘Best Bets’ for Agriculture in Africa

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The UK’s Department for International Development (DfID) has recently launched its new report, entitled “Eliminating World Poverty: Building our Common Future.”

Two implicit dimensions are rreflected in this report’s title.  Firstly, the world already has many good solutions for reducing world hunger, but they simply need to be scaled up and funded in order to work at a broader level.  Secondly, while many markets are still fragmented and inefficient,these markets are increasingly part of a common globalised economy, in which we all participate.

Two interesting African initiatives highlighted in the report and being funded by DfID are the North-South Transport Corridor and the ‘best bets’ approach to agriculture.

The North-South Transport Corridor is a $1.2 billion project which will upgrade 4,000 kilometres of road and 600 kilometres of rail track.  The goal of the project is to free up bottlenecks in shipping and other transport, especially in parts of eastern and southern Africa.

DfID’s ‘best bets’ for agriculture will see funding going to “the innovations with the greatest potential to lift poor people out of poverty, and to getting these into widespread use.”  AS DfID sees it, these include:

  • tackling new pests which attack staple crops, such as virulent wheat rust and cassava viruses.  This will cost £20 million but could help protect almost three billion people who depend on these crops for their food
  • breeding drought-resistant maize for Africa.  This will cost up to £60 million but will help 320 millino farmers in Africa who are affected by drought and will indirectly benefit many more likely to be affected by climate change.
  • improving the vitamin content of staple crops. To develop these crops and get them into widespread use will cost around £80 million but it has the potential to help improve the nutrition of up to 670 million of the poorest people, many of them children.