Thursday, November 5, 2009: 8:00 AM
Convention Center, Room 408-409, Fourth Floor
Why the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Supports Crop Improvement Networks in Africa and South Asia The food crisis of 2008 brought into sharp focus the need to increases genetic gains in crop yields that are now less than 1% per annum for wheat and rice. The Gates Foundation recognizes the central role crop improvement, coupled with agronomic inputs, market opportunities and government policies, continues to play in achieving sustainable food production. For a second Green Revolution to occur we must include rainfed agriculture, develop broader and more innovative partnerships, and leverage science to meet future food, feed, fiber and fuel demands. All of this must be done while preserving our natural resource base. Our crop improvement grants engage a wide set of partners (public, private and civil society sectors) to ensure adapted, farmer-preferred varieties reach smallholder farmers in a timely manner. We recognize that crop improvement represents a continuum from basic research (e.g. investing in C4 rice) through to delivery (e.g. Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa) and requires a long-term view. To date we have supported crop improvement programs in Africa and South Asia for maize, wheat, rice, sorghum, millet, various vegetables and legumes, and tuber crops. These grants promote the use of participatory variety selection to capture the voice of farmers early in the breeding process. We are also plan to support the development of cross-cutting tools such as a molecular breeding platform that we anticipate will enable the crop improvement community to accelerate genetic gains and enable the sharing of knowledge and genetic resources to help restore genetic gains back to levels observed during the first Green Revolution.