Stories tagged: Gates Foundation

Three Steps for Transforming Agriculture to Feed the World

In this guest post, Nick Austin, Agricultural Development Director at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, outlines a new global roadmap for transforming smallholder farming in order to feed the world. Part of Farming First’s #SDG2countdown series on SDG2.1 – ending hunger.

For smallholder farmer Rahlia Michael, life was a constant struggle. No matter how many hours she worked, she found it impossible to feed her large family from the income she made from her farm.

But this all changed when Babban Gona, the award-winning initiative to support smallholder farmers, came to her Nigerian community. For the first time, Rahlia and farmers like her now had the financial help, knowledge and training to reward their hard work. Continue reading

Pamela Anderson: Achieving SDG2 #StartsWithFarmers

In this guest post, Pamela Anderson, Director of Agricultural Development at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, charts the innovations needed to empower farmers to meet SDG2.

It may frustrate those of us who work in this area but it is hardly surprising that innovation is not the first thing that springs to the public’s mind when they think about agriculture.

After all, farming has taken place for almost as long as women and men have walked the planet. It is also true that, for millions of farmers across Africa and the developing world, the fundamentals and tools of agriculture remain the same as before – back-breaking planting, tilling and harvesting. Continue reading

#FoodPrize15 Twitter Chat Summary

To gear up for the Borlaug Dialogue in Des Moines next week – where Farming First will be acting as media partner to hosts the World Food Prize Foundation – we ran a Twitter Chat with leading spokespeople at the event and Farming First supporters.

Ambassador Kenneth M. Quinn, President of the World Food Prize Foundation kicked the discussion off with reasons why agriculture is such an important tool for poverty reduction.

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Ambassador Quinn was joined by the Director of Agricultural Development at the Gates Foundation, Pamela Anderson. She had this response to why the empowerment of youth and women in agriculture can make such a big impact:

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Winner of the 2015 World Food Prize, BRAC also joined the debate. When asked how we can ensure technologies end up in the hand of farmers, they introduced the idea of “frugal innovation”.

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Farming First supporters Dr. Katrin Glatzel of Agriculture for Impact, and Jay Kaufman of Fintrac also joined the discussion. They shared their ideas on how to ensure that development interventions are holistic and tackle more than one area of development.

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The live debate then kicked off, and 12 viewers submitted real-time questions for our panel to tackle. Adam Willman asked about the refuge crisis:

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Chandra Nath Misha asked how more investment can be channeled into staple crops:

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Farming First will be in Des Moines all next week, bringing you live commentary from the conference and posting a series of exclusive expert blogs. Follow @farmingfirst and stay tuned to #FoodPrize15!

For a full recap of the one-long chat, click the Storify tweet collection below.


@FarmingFirst Twitter Reaches 20,000 Followers! To Celebrate We Ask – Can Social Media Change the World?

Farming First has for a long time been at the forefront of social media trends, growing to be one of the most influential operators within the agricultural, development and food security space, continually shaping and encouraging discussion.

Today, we are delighted to announce that we have reached a landmark 20,000 followers. Just last week – and as testament to our ever-extending influence -Farming First was named in a list released by the Food Tank of the ‘118 Twitter Feeds Every Food Activist Must Follow’, which recognised the role that Twitter plays in raising awareness of the role of agriculture in food and nutrition security.

Farming First would like to thank everyone for sharing our content and joining in the global dialogue on sustainable agriculture that takes place everyday.

Today, social media allows everyone to be a part of the critical conversations that are at the heart of development, making for a more inclusive world. To celebrate our 20,000th follower we wanted to ask the question can social media change the world? We look at a variety of campaigns that prove that it can. To ensure that development is really responsive to the people it is intended to benefit, then we must ensure social media remains at the heart of what we do… 


Winner of the Cannes Chimera Challenge in 2012, ‘BeHere – BeThere’ is a project by Serviceplan in Hamburg, Germany, which uses location apps, such as Foursquare and Facebook Places, to connect consumers to charity projects in the developing world.

When a consumer uses the app to ‘check in’ at a certain location, such as a bar, a restaurant or a cinema they find that the place they are checking in at has been replaced by a development project such as a school in Sierra Leone, a well in Kenya or a farm in Malawi.

The project works by partnering with a variety of businesses, such as Starbucks, when the person ‘checks in’ a pop-up appears on the screen of their phone, tablet or laptop with information on the development project. For example, Starbucks partnered with Tongo’s Elementary School in Sierra Leone sharing images, videos and detail about the project whenever anybody checked in. At every check in, this information was then shared with the customer’s friends and contacts on social media.

An extra incentive was that businesses donated to the projects whenever anybody checked in, Starbucks for example donated 10 cents everytime anybody checked in at their Hamburg coffee shop.

For more information about the project click here

It’s difficult to pick a single campaign from the variety of videos, infographics and images that the Gates Foundation share everyday.

With 626,000 likes on Facebook and over 900,000 followers on Twitter, the Gates Foundation has built a strong following of people willing to share vital information and resources in order to raise awareness of the world’s most pressing challenges.

The strength of the Gates Foundation’s social media lies with Bill and Melinda Gates, who have optimised their positions in society to strengthen the digital campaigns of their organisation.


It may be our campaign but it’s one we are very proud of for helping to illustrate the power of social media.

On International Women’s Day 2012 we launched an infographic entitled The Female Face of Farming in partnership with the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The Female Face of Farming aimed to raise awareness of the gender gap that exists in agriculture and the need to ensure that women were offered a voice at policy level.

The infographic reached over one million people on Twitter on the day of the launch and continues to be one of our most popular campaigns, helping raise awareness of the vital role women play in food security.

To keep up to date with all these campaigns follow

BeHere-BeThere – @serviceplaner

Gates Foundation – @gatesfoundation

Female Face of Farming – @farmingfirst



Gates Urges Support for Innovation in Agriculture

The launch of Bill Gates’ 2012 Annual Letter, released yesterday, has seen the Microsoft founder and philanthropist address audiences across the world on the importance of tackling poverty. One of his primary concerns in his 2012 letter is agriculture, and the crucial role it plays in international development.

Currently, over 1 billion people – about 15 percent of the world – are hungry. Smallholder farmers are unable to produce enough food to feed their families and lack the support to work themselves out of poverty. In his letter, Gates highlights the responsibility developed countries have to not only invest in agricultural aid, but in agricultural research. Between 1987 and 2006, agricultural aid fell from rich countries from 17 percent to just 4 percent.

At the same time, demand for food is increasing because of population growth and economic development, with the world’s population set to hit 9 billion in 2050. Supply growth has not kept up, leading to higher food prices and climate change threatens farmers’ ability to produce enough food to meet the growing demand.


Agricultural innovation, Gates argues, is a vital way forward. During the ‘Green Revolution’ of the 1960s and 1970s, new seed varieties for rice, wheat, and maize were developed that helped many farmers greatly improve their yields. In some places, such as East Asia, food intake went up by as much as 50 percent. Globally, the price of wheat dropped by two-thirds. The same process can happen again:

We can be more innovative about delivering solutions that already exist to the farmers who need them. Knowledge about managing soil and tools like drip irrigation can help poor farmers grow more food today. We can also discover new approaches and create new tools to fundamentally transform farmers’ lives. But we won’t advance if we don’t continue to fund agricultural innovation, and I am very worried about where those funds will come from in the current economic and political climate.

He also stated that agricultural research is ‘chronically underfunded’.  Climate change is becoming an increasing threat; studies show that the rise in global temperature alone could reduce the productivity of the main crops by over 25 percent. Climate change will also increase the number of droughts and floods that can wipe out an entire season of crops. Increased investment in agricultural research can unveil new seed varieties that can survive extreme weather conditions, as well as combat plant diseases that destroy crops.

Click here to read Bill Gate’s 2012 Annual Letter letter in full. Follow the debate on Twitter with the hashtag #BillsLetter.

Gates Foundation Awards Farming First’s Infographic

Screen shot 2011-06-08 at 11.40.34The Gates Foundation has just awarded Farming First the “Best Infographic” award in its recent “Small Farmers are the Answer” competition.

The challenge was to come up with creative ways to tell the story of small farmers. The Gates Foundation received more than 140 entries from people across the world. In Bill Gates’ blog post about the project, he explained the reason for his call:

The vast majority of the poorest people in the world get their food and income from farming small plots of land. Helping these farming families grow and sell more helps them become self-sufficient and build better lives.

The Gates Foundation selected their favourite submissions, and Farming First was one of them! We won the “best infographic” award for our infographic “The Story of Agriculture and the Green Economy“, and our new supporter group, Self Help Africa, won best video for “It starts with a seed.”