Manila: Bill Gates, the world’s richest man, is to donate nearly $20 million for research into helping rice farmers deal with global warming, the International Rice Research Institute said Monday.
The Philippines-based institute said it would use the donation from the Microsoft founder to harness scientific advances and address major unsolved problems in agriculture.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation would release the $19.9-million grant over three years, the institute said.
The money initially would help give improved rice strains and linked technology to 400,000 small farmers in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, it added.
“Farmers are expected to achieve a 50% increase in their yields within the next 10 years,” the institute said in a statement.
“The new funding comes at a vital time for rice farmers, who are now facing major production pressure and rising prices that threaten Asia’s continued economic growth,” the body said.
The donation would help farmers struggling with little or no irrigation by helping to develop and distribute rice strains capable of withstanding stresses such as drought and flooding, the institute said.
Robert S. Zegler, the institute’s director general, emphasised that climate change threatened to worsen the frequency and severity of such problems, making the need for hardy crops urgent.
“If we are serious about ending extreme hunger and poverty around the world, we must be serious about transforming agriculture for small farmers -- most of whom are women,” said Gates in the statement.