Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Gates Foundation gives money for food research

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has given $27 million dollars to the McKnight Foundation. The Foundation works on food research to help farmers in the poorest parts of the world.

The Foundation has many projects ongoing throughout the world. McKnight works to help farmers improve their seed varieties, improve their soil, and control pests.

The Star Tribune's Matt McKinney offers more on the grant and the Foundations work.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the biggest name in philanthropy, has awarded $27 million to the McKnight Foundation to study food crops and farming in some of the poorest corners of the world. The grant, for research on crops such as sorghum and finger millet and on ways to increase the yield of sweet potato in Uganda, is a first for the Minnesota-based McKnight, said the group's president, Kate Wolford.

"They were aware of the program work we were doing and reached out to us as they were expanding their agricultural research and development work," Wolford said.

The McKnight Foundation has funded crop research for more than 20 years, and today it supports 26 projects in 17 countries.

The research is precisely the sort of work that experts say must be done to stave off the possibility of famine across Africa and Central and South America, the likelihood of which grew this year as a global food crisis pushed millions of people into poverty and swelled the ranks of the malnourished to 967 million, according to the World Food Program.

The Gates Foundation grant, paid out over five years, will double the $4.7 million that McKnight spends on agriculture research every year.

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