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Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has supported Catholic Relief Services emergency relief and development efforts worldwide since 2003 with more than $55 million in grants. The $24 million, five-year Great Lakes Cassava Initiative supported by the foundation surpassed its initial target and reached 1.35 million farmers in Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda with disease tolerant cassava planting material. Learn more about the Great Lakes Cassava Initiative.

Villager in Orissa holding rice seeds

A villager in Orissa evaluates rice seeds stored for the next planting season. A CRS project in this village trained farmers in seed multiplication and provided them with flood resilient seed varieties. Photo by David Snyder for CRS

Improved Rice-Based Rainfed Agricultural Systems Project in Bihar State, India

In partnership with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), CRS has been awarded a $4.3 million grant from the foundation to fund the Improved Rice-Based Rainfed Agricultural Systems (IRRAS) project in Bihar State, India. The four-year project is a collaboration of CRS, IRRI and the Indian government, together with three local CRS partners and three university IRRI partners. The project will help researchers create and share technologies with 50,000 family farmers cultivating rainfed, stress-prone farmland in Bihar.

Bihar is the poorest state in India and has a population of more than 100 million, 37 million of which are below the poverty line. Rice is the most important crop for poor farmers and consumers in Bihar. However, rice yield is very low and unstable due to a variety of factors, including recurring cycles of drought and flooding in rainfed farmland, which constitutes about half of the total rice farming area.

The IRRAS project will improve farmers' access to research findings and the responsiveness of research to the needs of small farmers. CRS works with IRRI and research institutions in Bihar to develop and test improved agronomic technologies appropriate and accessible to small farmers in Bihar.

The project also increases understanding of the value of exchanging ideas and sharing technology between agricultural research and extension to help poor farmers. This collaboration aids farmers growing rice on five acres or less of land, of which at least 40 percent of the farmers are women.

The grant announcement is available from the Gates Foundation.

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