New funding to allow scientists to research cutting-edge technology to protect crops and produce “super crops” that will be more efficient and withstand the impacts of climate change. The new £38 million of UK aid will contribute to a portfolio of projects which will receive additional funding from the Gates Foundation.
UK aid is tackling global food insecurity through a new project with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to protect plants from the threat of climate change, pests and diseases.
The new funding will allow scientists to research cutting-edge technology to protect crops and also to produce “super crops” that will be more efficient and withstand the impacts of climate change. For example, one of the projects will work to increase yields by harnessing major advances in photosynthesis.
The programme’s impact will be two-fold. First, it will contribute directly to securing global food supplies in the face of pest and disease threats, climate change and the increasing scarcity of natural resources. Secondly, the programme will improve the agricultural productivity of smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, thereby reducing poverty at the household and community level, and contributing to economic growth at the national level.
International Development Secretary Alok Sharma said, “We are proud to be working alongside the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to tackle some of the most pressing humanitarian issues of our time. Feeding a global population of 10 billion by 2050 is a major challenge, particularly with pests and diseases destroying up to 40% of food produced.”
He further said, “Our joint investment in cutting-edge British research will produce crops that can thrive in conditions caused by climate change. This means people in the developing world will have enough food to eat, British consumers get stable prices, and we can protect our planet by avoiding fertilisers or damaging pesticides.”
Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Bill Gates said, “Pests and diseases are among the biggest challenges currently facing global food systems, and the threat is intensifying due to climate change, so I’m pleased that the UK Government is stepping up its partnership with our foundation to help protect the livelihoods of farming communities around the world.”
He also said, “With DFID’s additional investment, the scientists I’ve met here at Cambridge University will have the potential to transform agriculture in developing countries by helping crops grow more efficiently and increasing overall yield. DFID is one of our most valued partners, and by working together we can continue to tackle poverty and deliver agriculture that is resilient in the face of climate change.”
DFID has partnered with the Gates Foundation since 2010 in the field of agriculture.
Nearly 80% of people in the developing world rely on farming for their livelihoods but the impacts of climate change and the damage caused by pests and diseases have left millions struggling to grow enough crops to put food on the table.