Gates said farming is a business that helps poor farmers build self-sufficiency and improve their lives. He explained how the foundation and its partners are focusing their efforts on helping farmers get better seeds, healthier soils, and access to markets, as well as supporting better data and policies.
"In country after country, these approaches have improved the livelihoods of small farmers while reducing poverty and increasing economic growth," noted Gates. "It's proving the point again and again: helping poor farming families grow more crops and get them to market is the world's single most powerful lever for reducing poverty and hunger."
Gates cited examples of foundation-funded projects that are yielding promising results:
-- The World Food Program's Purchase for Progress (P4P) project is helping
small farmers, particularly women, gain access to reliable markets and
the opportunity to sell their surplus at competitive prices. Since its
start less than three years ago, P4P has paid out an estimated $37
million to small farmers and traders.
-- A project by the International Rice Research Institute is developing new
high-yield varieties of rice that are more tolerant to floods, drought,
and other environmental stresses. By the end of 2010, 400,000 farmers
had planted a new variety of rice that can survive up to 20 days after
being submerged. By the end of 2011, the project is expected to reach 20
million farmers. The new rice varieties will prevent crop loss, reduce
hunger, and boost the income of farming families.
At the symposium, the Chicago Council released the first Annual Progress Report on U.S. Leadership in Agricultural Development, whichtracks fulfillment of U.S. government food security policy development, implementation, and resourcing.
To date, the Gates Foundation has committed $1.7 billion to agricultural development. The foundation takes a comprehensive approach to supporting small farmers so progress against hunger and poverty is sustainable for the economy and the environment.
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people's health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people--especially those with the fewest resources--have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. Based in Seattle, Washington, the foundation is led by CEO Jeff Raikes and Co-chair William H. Gates Sr., under the direction of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett. Learn more at www.gatesfoundation.org or join the conversation at or visit us at Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr.