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The grants from the Gates Foundation to CGIAR institutions will further efforts to improve the drought tolerance of maize crops and increase the varieties of legume crops to respond to drought, pests and disease.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (logo courtesy of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation)23 February 2012: At the 35th session of the Governing Council of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced seven new grants to agriculture totaling $200 million, including the $21 million Tropical Legumes II project and the $33 million Drought Tolerant Maize for Africa project.

The Tropical Legumes project is part of a ten-year plan to improve the livelihoods of farmers in 15 countries in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, and is expected to bring $1.3 billion of added value to productivity of target crops including, chickpea, bean, cowpea, groundnut, pigeonpea and soybean. The introduction of new, improved seed is expected to address challenges such as drought, and pests and disease. This grant will assist the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA). The second phase of this Legumes project will build on the introduction of over 60 new legume varieties introduced during the first phase, by focusing on gender-specific interventions, monitoring and evaluation, and strengthening capacity of national agricultural research systems.

The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center’s (CIMMYT) Drought Tolerant Maize for Africa Project will support the third phase to develop drought-tolerant maize that reduces the risk of crop failure and will directly impact up to seven million farmers.

Additional grants were made to: the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Agriculture for the Program for Africa’s Seed System (PASS) – Phase 2 ($56 million); CARE for the Pathway to Secure Livelihoods Project ($15 million); Conservation International for an Integrated Monitoring System for Ecosystem Services in African Agricultural Landscapes ($10 million); the Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines for the Protecting Livestock, Saving Human Live Project – Phase 2 ($41 million); and the Meridian Institute for the Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa Project (PACA) ($20 million).

CIMMYT, ICRISAT, CIAT and IITA are members of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). The 35th session of IFAD’s Governing Council took place from 22-23 February 2012, in Rome, Italy. [ICRISAT Press Release] [CIMMYT Blog] [IISD RS Story on the IFAD Governing Council Meeting] [UN Press Release]

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