- Why was Bill & Melinda Gates Agricultural Innovations created? What is its purpose?
Bill & Melinda Gates Agricultural Innovations™ (also known as Gates Ag One) was created by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (“the Foundation”) to act like an agricultural innovation accelerator, connecting what is currently a fragmented research and development pipeline to deliver improved crop varieties designed specifically to meet the needs of the world’s smallholder farmers.
Demographically, smallholder farmers are amongst the most likely to be poor, hungry, and malnourished. They are also amongst the most impacted by climate change despite being least responsible. Despite this, agricultural innovations have too often overlooked their needs and realities, failing to support them under increasingly difficult conditions.
We can also unlock a range of other development gains by supporting smallholder farmers, from better livelihoods and stronger economies, particularly for the most vulnerable women and youth, to heightened climate resilience for the world’s most vulnerable regions. Our method of improving plant biology also offers the potential for breakthrough transformations that are renewable, affordable, and scalable. And we combine and deploy best practices in product development, regulatory stewardship, business development, and intellectual property to secure our ability to carry out research and development designed to meet the needs of smallholder farmers. Through licensing scientific breakthroughs, Gates Ag One can both protect innovations for global access and leverage new developments to advance global agricultural science.
In short, we believe that all lives have equal value and that smallholder farmers must have the same opportunity to thrive as others.
- Why do you call Bill & Melinda Gates Agricultural Innovations “Gates Ag One”?
BILL & MELINDA GATES AGRICULTURAL INNOVATIONS™ is our full official name. Using the shortened form of our name, Gates Ag One, reminds us and our partners that agriculture is the one activity that truly connects our planet and sustains us all.
- Is Bill & Melinda Gates Agricultural Innovations™ a grant-making organization?
Yes, we aim to use the most efficient and effective contractual tools to help us achieve our goals. Grants are one of these, as are collaborative agreements and contracts.
- How is Gates Ag One affiliated with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation?
Bill & Melinda Gates Agricultural Innovations™ (Gates Ag One) is a single-member limited liability company, the sole member of which is the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
- Who will Gates Ag One partner with?
We believe that delivering agricultural innovations for smallholder farmers, as well as building local capacity for the long term, requires the skills and talents of many. As such, we consult with a broad range of stakeholders – from National Agricultural Research and Extension systems, farmers’ cooperatives, small and medium enterprises, and more — to deliver the greatest impact for those who need it most.
We are also developing an open innovation approach that aims to build bridges across sectors and markets, accelerating product development for smallholder farmers. This approach aims to bring together the crop research and development sector — collaboratively evaluating, de-risking, and advancing the best science to improve smallholder farmer livelihoods and the communities they feed.
We believe that a viable enabling environment is as important as new innovations themselves and that collaboration, not competition, creates the best results.
- What geographies and crops will Gates Ag One focus on?
We are focused on improving varieties of the most important crops used by smallholder farmers. Gates Ag One focuses on those regions in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia where the scale of need and market viability are greatest. Specifically, our initial countries of engagement are seven African countries — Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, and Uganda— and two South Asian countries — India and Bangladesh.
Our initial focus crops include:
- Cassava, a crucial food security crop with untapped potential as a commodity.
- Cowpea, which provides protein for more than 200 million people across Africa.
- Maize, the most important cereal crop in Africa.
- Soybean, a global commodity crop with significant economic potential for African smallholders and national economies at large.
- Sorghum, a vital subsistence crop for climate resilience.
- Rice, a staple crop for economic growth and food security.
Our work always aims to deliver smallholder-designed innovations that boost productivity, livelihoods, and environmental outcomes.