IDE Receives Second Grant From Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Friday, February 1, 2008

IDE News – Press Release

International Development Enterprises (IDE) today announced a grant of $27 million over four years from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in support of its micro-irrigation programs for Indian smallholder farmers.

Bill Gates, co-chair of the foundation, announced the project as part of a package of agricultural development grants at a press conference with Amos Namanga Ngongi, President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), and World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

The project aims to directly affect up to 250,000 smallholder farm families?1.75 million people?in 14 diverse states of India, increasing farmers? income by a minimum of $400 per year, and boosting the agricultural economy by $300 million at the grassroots level. To accomplish this goal, IDE will employ its proven, creative approach to manufacture, market, and distribute affordable, scalable micro-irrigation systems though a newly-created private sector supply chain; train farmers to use micro-irrigation; and link them to high-value crop markets, using little more than their own existing resources.

“If we are serious about ending extreme hunger and poverty around the world, we must be serious about transforming agriculture for small farmers?most of whom are women,” said Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “These investments?from improving the quality of seeds, to developing healthier soil, to creating new markets?will pay off not only in children fed and lives saved. They can have a dramatic impact on poverty reduction as families generate additional income and improve their lives.”

The grant to IDE, announced as part of a package of grants totaling $306 million, nearly doubles the foundation?s investments in agriculture since the launch of its Agricultural Development initiative in mid-2006. The initiative, part of the foundation?s Global Development Program, is focused on a range of interventions across the entire agricultural value chain?from planting the highest quality seeds and improving farm management practices to bringing crops to market. The foundation believes that with strong partnerships and a redoubled commitment to agricultural development by donor and developing country governments, philanthropy and the private sector, hundreds of millions of small farmers will be able to boost their yields and incomes and lift themselves out of hunger and poverty.

This grant comes just one year after the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded IDE a $13.4 million grant to develop and promote its innovative methods for the rural poor in Africa and Asia.

Speaking from Denver, IDE’s CEO, Rosalind Copisarow said, “We are greatly honored that the work of IDE has been recognized by the Gates Foundation to represent one of the most powerful approaches that exist to permanent poverty alleviation for smallholder farmers. We very much look forward to collaborating with the Foundation over the coming years and, with their generous support, to empowering millions of hardworking people around the world to earn their own way out of poverty.” Paul Polak, IDE?s founder, remarked, “When I and a few other brave souls started IDE 26 years ago, we could only dream of helping millions of the world’s poorest people move out of poverty. This new partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation makes that dream an immediate reality.”

In addition to income generation, the project has the potential to reduce environmental impact?significantly cutting hydrocarbon emissions associated with traditional diesel-based irrigation systems by 308,000 tons over four years, offering water savings of 30-50 percent per family, and mitigating soil erosion through drip irrigation?s highly targeted water use.

Facts about the project:

* The project will be carried out in 14 states in India and will include the installation of 160,000 foot powered water pumps (“treadle pumps”) and 90,000 drip irrigation systems.

* Overall, the project will create $300.3 million in additional income for small farm families, landless laborers, and suppliers; a ratio of $12 generated to every $1 from the grant.

* The grant will provide funding for the development of an expanded product line of micro-irrigation technologies including water storage devices, low pressure sprinklers, and solar- and wind-powered pumps.

* Major project activities will include technology development; development of manufacturing and retail supply chains, social marketing initiatives, and dissemination of technologies development and strategies developed more globally; and micro-credit.

Source: International Development Enterprises News (link opens in a new window)