Cassava and CGIAR prominent in Bill Gates’ call for more agricultural innovation

25 January, 2012 by (comments)

Great to see cassava featuring prominently in this year’s annual open letter from Bill Gates, on behalf of The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Cassava, a crucial smallholder crop is often eclipsed in international research by the big staples like rice, wheat and maize – but it’s a CIAT priority crop.


Up to one billion people, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa consume cassava on a daily basis – and that’s not to mention the hundreds of thousands of smallholder farmers in Southeast Asia who produce cassava for the global starch industry.

Mr Gates calls attention to a number of wider issues, including levels of investment in international agricultural research and “critical” role of the CGIAR.

“Given the central role that food plays in human welfare and national stability, it is shocking—not to mention short-sighted and potentially dangerous—how little money is spent on agricultural research,” he writes.  “In total, only $3 billion per year is spent on researching the seven most  important crops. This includes $1.5 billion spent by countries, $1.2 billion by private companies, and $300 million by an agency called the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). Even though the CGIAR money is only 10 percent of the spending, it is critical because it focuses on the needs of poor countries. Very little of the country and private spending goes toward the priorities of small farmers in Africa or South Asia.”

Take a look at the letter in full for more on this, and the other priorities of the Foundation in 2012.


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