Rob Katz

Gates, Rockefeller Intend to Re-create Green Revolution for Africa

UPDATE: Peter Timmer of the Center for Global Development is skeptical about the program.

The Washington Post reports this morning that the Gates and Rockefeller Foundations will partner to jump-start an African Green Revolution:

The Africa program will begin with a relatively small Gates contribution of $100 million over five years, plus $50 million from Rockefeller, to fund development of more robust disease- and drought-resistant seeds for primary African foodstuffs, enhanced distribution networks for seed and fertilizer, and university-level training for African crop scientists.

Upon seeing this, my first reaction was to ask what the private sector’s role will be. After some digging, I discovered that the new project intends to develop a network of African agro-dealers:

Another challenge particular to Africa is the lack of a robust market for bringing new products to farmers. PASS hopes to address this by providing training, capital and credit to establish at least 10,000 small agro-dealers [village retailers who sell seeds, fertilizer and farm tools] who can serve as conduits of seeds, fertilizers, chemicals and knowledge to smallholder farmers, and in doing so help increase their productivity and incomes. This will be a $37 million investment.

$37 million for business development!? That’s excellent news. Let’s hope Gates and Rockefeller take the time to talk to some success stories in the arena, specifically KickStart and PRIDE Africa.

More commentary on the just-announced program on Owen’s blog, Pienso, and Resilience.