New Seed Monitoring Centre in Nairobi

6 October 2006

The Alliance for a Green Revolution (AGRA) — a Rockefeller and Bill Gates Foundation joint endeavour — is setting up a seed centre in Nairobi, Kenya. The centre forms part of a US$150 million programme to spur a "Green Revolution" on the African continent. The goal is to allow farmers to produce higher yielding crops to spur economics, curtail famine and improve health. The seed centre will be a hub for monitoring and evaluation of the Programme for Africa’s Seed Systems (PASS), supporting a variety of national-level and regional programmes.

Under AGRA, forty national crop breeding programmes have been set up to create improved seeds that can withstand local pests, diseases, rainfall patterns and soil properties, as well as carry traits demanded by local farmers. Eight to ten of Africa’s major food crops, which greatly vary by region, will be the focus of research and development. Another aim is to improve 200 specific crop varieties in five years. This programme will focus on plants with built-in insect-and disease-resistance.

AGRA also intends to ensure that the improved crop varieties are distributed to smallholder farms by means of private and public resources, including approximately 60 seed companies, public community systems and public extension. Farmer management practices and access to markets and financing will also be addressed through development investments. In addition, AGRA will support graduate level training across the continent.

Nearly three-quarters of Africa’s land area is being farmed without modern methods, such as fertilisers and advanced seeds, keeping much of the farming population in the shackles of extreme poverty.

"Kenya: Nairobi to Host Bill Gates Seed Research Centre," THE EAST AFRICAN, 26 September 2006; "Gates Foundation partners with Rockefeller in Africa agriculture investment," SEATTLE TIMES, 12 September 2006.

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