Biotech Updates

Gates Announces Agricultural Package for Africa

October 16, 2009

"But it didn't go to far enough. It didn't go to Africa."  Bill Gates, co-chair and trustee of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, lamented that the Green Revolution, "one of the greatest achievements of the 20th century, did not reach the continent where "per capita cereal yields have been flat over the last 25 years."  In response to this observation, Gates announced nine grants amounting to $120 M to serve small farmers in Africa during  the World Food Prize Symposium held in Des Moines, Iowa.

The package includes funding for "legumes that fix nitrogen in the soil, for higher yielding varieties of sorghum and millet, and for new varieties of sweet potatoes that resist pests and have a higher vitamin content. The grants will provide training and resources that African governments can draw on as they regulate biotechnologies – so they can make science-based decisions, customized to local conditions, about what advances will best serve farmers, consumers, and the environment." Assistance will also be given to African governments to help them develop policies that specifically serve small farmers.

The full transcription of Gates' speech is available at