I covered Keynote speaker Bill Gates of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation today at the World Food Prize Symposium announcing his foundation will be donating $ 120 Million to support the worlds poorest farmers with new agricultural grants. He said. 'How do you help those people who live on less then $1 / day. Helping the world's poorest farmers grow more crops and get those crops to market will be the biggest thing we can do to eliviate hunger.'
'The Green Revolution did amazing things but it didn't do enough. It did not get to Africa, specificly Sub-Saharan Africa.'
'There is also trouble' 'The Global effort to help small farmersis endangered by an ideological wedge that threatens to split the movement in two........One side is a technological approach that increases productivity (Big Ag, many of the attendees at the World Food Prize cinf.) ...the other is an environmental approach that promotes sustainability. (the Community Food Security Coalition, their conf. preceded the World Food prize Conf.)' I posted a blog two days ago highlighting this contrast.
He goes on to say this is a false choice, that blocks important advances. 'We need productivity and sustainability, and I feel we can do both..........The next green revolution must do both and must be guided by small-holder farmers, adapted to local circumstances, and sustainable for the economy and the envirnment.'
'We have to develop crops that can grow in a drought; that can grow in flood; that can resist pest and disease.'
'We need rigorous science to accomplish this.'
'It is essential for Africa to get a hardiar Maze that can grow in a draught and be a complete food source.' 'In some grants, we include transgenic approaches.....because it can address challenges faster.....Of course these technologies must be subject to rigorous scientific review to ensure they are safe and effective.'
We are developing this maze and it will be released royalty free to all of Africa.
Swarna sub-1 rice species was tested in India. when floods came 90% of normal crops dies. 95% of new variety survived.
Wheat rust is fast-moving and threatening the world wheat supply. 'We are partnering with 15 research stations..using a number of approaches to bread wheat varieties that will offer farmers some lasting protection.'
'We focus on small farmers and make investments across the value chain.....and look at the expertise of woman farmers who do most of the farming in Africa.'
African countries must lead. Most countries have pledged 10% of their National Budget. Ghana is the first country to do this and they have turned around their poverty and are almost at the Millennium Goal.
Here is the Video to his talk and the following discussion.
'Poor farmers are not a problem to be solved: they are the solution.'
A book will come out soon called 'Millions Fed" to follow up on 'Millions Saved' The vacine and health story.
He finished with a standing ovation and then went into a Q&A with Dr. Ejeta this years Food Prize laureate.
This was an amazing speach which clearly showed that an over riding philosophy that is rational and that doesn't try to impose a specific solution and which take into account the needs of stake holders from all levels may have a chance to change the world for the better. However this speech was followed by Dr Jeffery Sachs, the Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. In this speech he laid out an analysis that was sobering and scary. My next blog will be on that.