Charities begin Africa farming initiative

Sept. 13, 2006 at 11:20 AM
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SEATTLE, Sept. 13 (UPI) -- The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation of Seattle and the Rockefeller Foundation have begun an initiative to reduce hunger and poverty in sub-Saharan Africa.

The development project, modeled on the New York-based Rockefeller Foundation's "green revolution" nearly 50 years ago, is aimed at finding long-term solutions to poverty and hunger, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.

The Gates Foundation has thus far promised $100 million over the next five years and the Rockefeller Foundation $50 million towards the development of disease and drought resistant seeds, distribution networks for seeds and fertilizer, and training for crop scientists in Africa.

"We've been looking into the causes of extreme poverty and how we might make a contribution to reducing that," Bill Gates said. "If we can work on health and poverty issues concurrently, there is a lot that can be done to improve the quality of life... Today no country of any size has been able to sustain a transition out of poverty without substantially raising productivity in the agricultural sector. It can have a transformative impact."

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