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Gates Ag One will focus on accelerating agricultural innovation for smallholder farmers, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. (Gates Foundation Photo)

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is starting up a new nonprofit group that will focus on providing small-scale farmers in developing countries with the tools and innovations they’ll need to deal with the effects of climate change.

  • The nonprofit is known as Bill & Melinda Gates Agricultural Innovations, or Gates Ag One for short. The effort will be headquartered in the greater St. Louis metropolitan area, and will be headed by Joe Cornelius, who’s currently a director within the Gates Foundation’s Global Growth & Opportunity Division. Gates Ag One will work closely with the foundation’s Agricultural Development team.
  • Gates Ag One will focus on smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Those regions have a combined populations of roughly 2.8 billion people, with 60% of them living in rural areas that typically depend on small-scale agriculture for food and income. The Gates Foundation says yields on farms in those regions are already far below what farmers elsewhere in the world achieve.
  • Without technological innovations, climate change could make crops in Africa and South Asia even less productive. Gates Ag One aims to work with partners to accelerate the development of drought-resistant, yield-enhancing seeds and crops, as well as other advances such as more sustainable land and water management, more affordable insurance and greater access to agricultural markets. In an online overview and FAQ, the foundation says the effort is “still in the early planning stages.”
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