Efficiency and Transparency: Gates Foundation Refines Agricultural Strategy, Opens up to Grantees

A woman creates canals to allow water to flow to the plants in the garden. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced a refined agricultural development strategy that will concentrate its grants in specific activities in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Photo by: P. Casier / CGIAR / CC BY-NC-SA

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced a refined agricultural development strategy that will concentrate its grants in specific activities in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. The foundation said it is also finalizing plans to be more open to grantees about its decision- and grant-making processes.

The shift in strategy came after the foundation assessed the impact of its five-year work in the field. Under the refined agricultural development strategy, the foundation will be investing more in research and development for specific crops and livestock in said regions, research and analysis for assessing national and international agriculture policies, and development of tools and practices that will link small farmers to markets.

The new strategy emphasizes the importance of women’s contributions to farm work. It specifies a number of tools to guide the foundation and its grantees in addressing the gender gap effectively. Apart from these, the foundation will have specific grants for increasing women farmers’ productivity.

As of June 2011, the foundation has committed more than $1.8 billion to agricultural development efforts, the refined strategy also revealed.

The world’s largest grant-making foundation also defended its support for genetic modification approaches, saying that the foundation does not advocate any particular method and the approach is just among the range of crop-breeding techniques it supports to give farmers options in improving their productivity.

The foundation’s CEO, Jeff Raikes, announced the strategy shift in the 2010 annual report. He also said the foundation is finalizing plans and timelines for operationalizing the commitment it made last year to enable grantees to understand clearly the foundation’s decision-making and grant-making processes in light of the low ratings it received in a perception survey among its grantees.

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  • Che

    Che de los Reyes

    As a senior staff writer, Che focuses on international development breaking news coverage as well as interviews and features. Prior to joining Devex, Che handled communications for local and international development NGOs and government institutions in the Philippines.