The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has pledged US$300 million to support agricultural research projects that are designed to help African and Asian smallholder farmers adapt to, and better mitigate, the impact of climate change.
The financial package, which was initially announced at the One Planet Summit in Paris last year, will be broken down into periodic grants that will be disbursed between 2018 and 2020.
In a detailed statement published by the News Agency of Nigeria, the foundation said it will fund research projects whose outcomes will help guide smallholders farmers on how to deal with most of the adverse agricultural impacts of climate change.
These include rising temperatures, extreme weather patterns, droughts and floods, diseases, declining soil fertility, as well as increasing attacks from crop pests.
“Two-thirds of the world’s poorest people live in Africa and Asia and roughly 800 million of them rely on agriculture for their livelihoods. These smallholder farmers play a negligible role in generating carbon emissions, but they suffer some of the harshest effects of climate change. As the climate changes, the farmer’s ability to produce crops and feed their families or earn an income will be increasingly threatened.
“Livelihoods will be destroyed and climate-related pressures could force people to abandon their homes and communities in search of better conditions. Poor farmers in developing countries will need the most innovative tools and technologies to adapt to the effects of climate change,’’ the foundation said.
Further, the foundation said farmers should be trained to increase crop production, but in a manner that is both “sustainable and resilient” in rapidly changing environment.
The projects are aimed at helping African and Asian smallholder farmers increase crop yields, better respond to environmental threats and adapt farming methods and techniques designed to keep pace with climate change.
Among other recent interventions to help Africa deal with the impacts of climate change, the BNP Paribas Foundation and the Agropolis Foundation launched the One Planet Fellowship, a €15 million-, 5-year programme that will train 600 African and European researchers who are helping farmers adapt to the impacts of climate change.