Biotech Updates

Small Holder Farmers Benefit from Second Phase of Tropical Legumes Project

February 24, 2012

Farmers in sub-Saharan Africa and South Africa are the targets of an agriculture and development project recently announced by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation during the 35th Session of the Governing Council of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in Rome. Included in the grant is a three-year US$21 million Tropical Legumes II livelihood project that would bring about US$1.3 billion added value to the productivity of the target crops: chickpea, common bean, cowpea, groundnut, pigeonpea, and soybean.

"If you care about the poorest, you care about agriculture," said Bill Gates, co-chair of the foundation. "Investments in agriculture are the best weapons against hunger and poverty, and they have made life better for billions of people. The international agriculture community needs to be more innovative, coordinated and focused to really be effective in helping poor farmers grow more. If we can do that, we can dramatically reduce suffering, and build self-sufficiency."

During the first phase of the project, more than 60 new varieties of tropical legumes have been released to 240,000 small holder farmers in several countries, and together with extension workers have been trained on improved farming practices. The second phase of the grant will focus on gender specific aspects of tropical legume production, marketing, and consumption. There will be emphasis on location-specific monitoring and evaluation, impact assessment, data management and increased seed production and delivery as well as the strengthening of national agricultural research systems in the two regions.

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