In the photo: Bill Gates and France’s President Emmanuel Macron in Paris, December 12, 2017. [Pool/EPA/EFE]

The European Union (EU) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are uniting in an initiative to support investigation and innovation in agriculture. The target is developing countries in Asia and Africa. With a duration of three years (2018-2020), the project represents an investment of 330 million dollars from the EU and 300 million dollars from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The agreement was made at the One Planet Summit, in Paris, on December 12, and follows the Paris Agreement on the environment and the COP 23 conference on climate change.

The initiative’s main goals are to “help the world’s poorest farmers better adapt to increasingly challenging growing conditions brought about by climate change, including rising temperatures, extreme weather patterns (droughts and floods), diseases, poor soil fertility, and attacks from crop pests,” said the Gates Foundation in a press release, adding: “Poor farmers in developing countries will need the most innovative tools and technologies to adapt to the effects of climate change.”

Agriculture technology against climate change

“Agriculture is the most promising path out of poverty for individuals and countries. The disproportionate impact of climate change on the world’s poorest people means that there is a more urgent need than ever to help the poorest farmers improve their productivity in the increasingly tough conditions that they continue to face,” said Bill Gates at the One Planet Summit.

To achieve these goals, both organizations will focus on several lines of action. According to the Gates Foundation, these are: crop improvement (with focus on big data and robotics), crop protection (including the use of new ways to fight diseases on crops like yams and sweet potatoes, as well as planting drought- and heat-resistant species) and crop management (where the highlight goes to technology meant to increase the farms’ productivity).

More jobs in the sector, the improvement of the target countries’ investigation capability and the generation of knowledge to inform better policies and investment decisions will also be lines of action, according to the EU.

For now, the “technical work will continue between the European Commission, the Gates Foundation, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and other interested EU Member States and partners, in order to identify priorities and develop long-term plans,” the EU concluded.

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