The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has recently pledged £300m on research to support farmers in Asia and Africa in the fight against climate change.
The money will be spent over the next three years on new methods to support farming in its response to the environmental challenges brought about by climate change. These include rising temperatures, extreme weather, disease, and pests.
According to the Foundation, around 800 million of the world’s poorest people rely on agriculture to make a living and they stand to bear the brunt of some of climate change’s worst impacts. It is, therefore, vital that new approaches to farming are adopted to ensure communities can survive.
The research will centre around three specific areas of growing crops: improvement, protection, and management.
Crop improvement will look at ways to use less water and fertiliser to increase crop yields. Big data and robotics can also help farmers better understand plant characteristics and improve the speed of breeding. Crop protection will focus on breakthroughs in drought-tolerant seeds and on how to control diseases, which are devastating to crops such as sweet potatoes and yams. Finally, crop management will seek to improve soil fertility.
The announcement comes at the same time as the European Commission has pledged an additional $318m to support the same research.
Bill Gates, co-chair of the Foundation, said:
“Agriculture is the most promising path out of poverty for individuals and countries. The disproportionate impact of climate change on the world’s poorest people means that there is a more urgent need than ever to help the poorest farmers improve their productivity in the increasingly tough conditions that they continue to face.
“We are excited to join forces with the European Commission to drive forward research and innovation that will help farmers improve their crop yields, respond to climate pressures and have access to the latest developments in farming practices. Together we can help smallholder farmers improve their livelihoods, lift more families out of poverty, and contribute to a sustainable global food system.”
Image Credit: blk24ga/CC
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