Bill Gates proposes accountability scorecards for agriculture development

Bill Gates, co-founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Jose Graziano da Silva, director general of the Food and Agriculture Organization. Photo by: Alessandra Benedetii / ©FAO

Bill Gates arrived Feb. 23 in Rome, Italy, armed with $200 million in pledges for global agriculture development projects and a challenge for the three U.N. agencies in the city to boost accountability in their field.

In a speech at the International Fund for Agricultural Development’s annual meeting, Gates urged IFAD, the World Food Program and the Food and Agriculture Organization to set a “global productivity target” for small farmers and develop a scorecard system that will measure the contributions of each member of the agriculture community to efforts to reduce global poverty.

“Scorecards will help each part of the system focus on its key contribution to the overall goal, diagnose problems as they arise, and spread the most effective interventions,” Gates said. “As it stands, we don’t really know what’s working and what isn’t.”

The scorecards will also help the communities identify good policies from the bad ones and allow the public to demand more accountability from their leaders, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation co-chair added. Gates pledged to support the development of the target and scorecards.

The rest of Gates’ speech was familiar, as he once again made the case for prioritizing efforts to bridge the gap between small farmers and innovative science and technology tools.

While in Rome, Gates also announced the following grants for agriculture development and research-related projects:

  • $56 million for the second phase of the Program for Africa’s Seed System, which aims to increase access of sub-Saharan Africa’s farmers to better seed varieties of their most important crops. 

  • $41 million for the phase two of the Protecting Livestock, Saving Human Life Project, which supports development and distribution of veterinary projects. This project is co-funded by the U.K. Department for International Development

  • $15 million for CARE’s Pathway to Secure Livelihoods, a project focused on empowering women farmers in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. 

  • $10 million for Conservation International’s Integrated Monitoring System for Ecosystem Services in African Agricultural Landscapes initiative. 

  • $33 million for the third phase of an initiative to develop drought-tolerant maize varieties for sub-Saharan Africa. 

  • $21 million for the development of improved varieties of legumes that can withstand diseases, insects and droughts. 

  • $20 million for the control of the deadly aflatoxin fungus in eight African countries.

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributes to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.