We invest in the following strategic areas that we believe will help address the challenges and local realities faced by farming families in the developing world.
Research and Development
Harvested Swarna Sub I rice, a STRASA variety from IRRI, being dried at the home of farmer Kamlavati Devi.
We support research to develop more productive and nutritious varieties of the crops grown and consumed by farming families. These include varieties adapted to local conditions that deliver specific benefits farmers seek, such as increased yields, better nutrition, and tolerance to drought, flood, and pests. We fund research to discover ways to better manage soil and water resources and reduce crop loss due to spoilage, weeds, pests, disease, and other threats.
Timely, relevant, and accurate information is crucial to farmers. Policymakers in developing countries also need good data to inform their decision making. We support data collection, research, and policy analysis to help evaluate the impact of various approaches, get accurate information to farmers, and assess the effects of national and international agricultural policies. Our research also includes measuring the progress of our grants to ensure that they are delivering the anticipated benefits to farming families.
Livestock is a key part of farming in developing countries and is crucial to the livelihoods of more than 900 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. We support efforts to improve the health and productivity of livestock—particularly chickens, goats, and cows—by improving animal genetics and veterinary care. To ensure that farmers can benefit from animal health and genetics technologies, we test models for providing farmers with the knowledge and tools they need to increase their on-farm production and connect to stable markets. Our work particularly aims to increase income-generating opportunities for women, who may have little control over productive resources such as land, but sometimes own and control livestock, especially poultry and goats.
Technology enables farmers, like Adasa John in Tanzania, to access crop-related information via cell-phone.
We support efforts to get new and appropriate tools and farming practices into the hands of farmers. This includes improved seeds and access to better soil, water, and livestock solutions. We look for ways to strengthen knowledge exchange through technologies such as mobile phones and radio. We also work with farmers’ organizations to help farmers hone their business management skills, gain greater purchasing power and marketing leverage, and improve their crop and resource management skills. Additional priorities include helping farmers improve their storage and post-harvest activities, meet quality and quantity commitments, link to large-scale and reliable markets, and establish partnerships with buyers, processors, and farmers’ organizations.
Strategic Partnerships and Advocacy
To achieve the goal of sustainable agricultural productivity, our strategy relies on strong partnerships with donor countries, multilateral institutions, private foundations, and other organizations. While strengthening existing partnerships, we are building new partnerships with countries such as Brazil and China, which have developed their own agricultural sectors through technological and policy innovation and are increasingly important to agricultural growth in the regions where we work. Through our advocacy efforts and investments, we seek innovative solutions to agricultural policy challenges and we work to foster the political will and public support to solve them. Our overall goal is to ensure that donor and developing-country investments and policies support sustainable smallholder farmer productivity.