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Gates Foundation budgets $1.4b for farmers in Africa, Asia to combat climate change impact

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Gates Foundation budgets $1.4b with focus on rural female farmers

By Jeph Ajobaju, Chief Copy Editor

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Up to $14 billion is to be invested by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) to help smallholder farmers combat the impact of climate change, in heed of African leaders’ call for countries to scale up finance for climate adaptation.

The investment will focus especially on women in rural Africa and South Asia to boost their income and mitigate climate change consequences.

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Gates Foundation Chief Executive Officer Mark Suzman announced the investment at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Egypt, arguing climate change is a food and economic crisis without precedent for many regions.

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Suzman said more than two billion people depend on smallholder farms for food and income, yet less than 2 per cent of global climate finance is devoted to helping these farms adapt to climate change.

Food and economic crises will last longer and become more severe as climate threats escalate and further threaten food security by limiting smallholder farmers’ yields and resilience, he added.

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“The effects of climate change have already been devastating, and every moment the world delays action, more people suffer, and the solutions become more complex and costly,” he warned.

“Our commitment will help smallholder farmers adapt today and build resilience for the future.

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“It is essential for this climate summit to produce bold commitments that address immediate and long-term needs. Leaders must listen to the voices of African farmers and governments to understand their priorities and respond with urgency.

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“The foundation’s commitment will fund immediate action and long-term initiatives over four years to help smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia build resilience and food security.

“Funding will focus on spurring African-led innovation to build a pipeline of climate-smart agriculture projects, new applications of digital technologies, climate-smart innovations for smallholder livestock farming, and support for women smallholder farmers to capitalise on their untapped potential.”

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Women lack access to resources

Melinda French Gates, the Co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, reiterated the vital role women play in food supply which requires they have equal access with men to resources.

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“Women in rural Africa are the backbone of their food systems, but they have never had equal access to the resources they need to reach their full potential or build resilience to looming climate threats,” she said, per The Guardian.

“As the climate crisis accelerates, women’s vital role in their economies is too important to overlook.

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“With the right financing and marketing support, women smallholder farmers could earn more in a day than they currently earn in a month, ultimately transforming these regional food systems and unlocking a healthier, more sustainable, and more prosperous future for families and communities across the continent.

“To improve the livelihoods of rural women in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, the foundation is deepening its ongoing partnership with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

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“The goal is to scale up initiatives that empower women farmers, support innovations at the nexus of gender and climate adaptation, and increase climate finance that gives rural women better access to the climate-smart resources they need to strengthen food systems.”

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