Three quarters of the world’s poorest people gain their income and their food by farming small plots about the size of a football field. The Green Revolution (see 1943 entry) dramatically improved life for small farmers in Asia and Latin America. But for a variety of reasons the Green Revolution never rooted deeply in Africa. As a result, about 70 percent of Africans struggle with unproductive soil, plant diseases, pests, and weather problems.
In 2006 the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation began a concentrated effort to import the lessons and techniques of the Green Revolution to sub-Saharan Africa. They invested more than $2 billion in this effort just in their first eight years. Part of the initiative involves research and development seeking plant varieties that will have increased yields, better resistance to pests and weather stress, and enhanced nutritive value. Extensive resources also go into spreading information on effective farming techniques, expanding the access of small farmers to markets where they can sell their produce, and veterinary labors to upgrade the health and productivity of livestock.
- Overview of Gates agricultural development strategy, gatesfoundation.org/What-We-Do/Global-Development/Agricultural-Development