SCOTLAND – Scotland farmers have gone for smart agriculture in growing ‘super crops’ and breeding high yielding cows following the announcement by Bill Gates and Britain to fund innovative agricultural projects in the country.
The funding of US$174 million from Britain’s Department for International Development and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will support farmers who will venture into high milk yielding cows and high quality egg-laying chicken.
According to BusinessLIVE, this funding will also cover production of agricultural crops that are highly resistant to harsh environmental conditions and at the same time resulting to high yielding produce.
With the project, Scotland said to comprise 75% of arable land is expected to increase production of wheat, oilseed rape, oats and potatoes as most farmers were expected to join the project.
Not forgetting the horticultural sector, the funding will also go to production of fruits and vegetables, with strawberries being a key crop in the sector.
“If you care about the poor, you should care about agriculture. And if you care about agriculture, you care about livestock,” said Gates.
“What that means in this context is helping poor farmer get as much as possible out of their animals.
Livestock — which include cattle, sheep and goats — are a source of nutrition and income, and a long-term asset for families.
Improving their health and productivity can substantially benefit vulnerable farmers who are often one bad harvest away from ruin,” added Gates.
The fraction of the funding, US$40 million targeting poor small-scale farmers in Africa and Asia would be used in developing livestock vaccines through the Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines based in Edinburgh.
According to International Livestock Research Institute, ILRI, about 750 million people in low-and middle-income countries depend on livestock farming, with the sector accounting for 40% of agricultural GDP globally.
Britain on the other hand, will provide funding of up to US$128.25 through Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), an organisation dedicated to reducing rural poverty, increasing food security, improving human health and nutrition, and ensuring sustainable management of natural resources.
The funding will facilitate development of new farm technologies aimed at enhancing human health and nutrition and fighting food insecurity through production of drought resilient crops.
“We think that the result of this investment will help 100 million African farmers, but also give a pay-back to UK farmers as well, as disease doesn’t stop at borders,” said Penny Mordaunt, Britain’s international development minister.
The Centre for Tropical Livestock Genetics and Health, a joint venture in Edinburgh and Nairobi has also received US$5.7 million investment fund that will enhance the use of genetic technologies to improve health and productivity of livestock across the Sub- Saharan Africa.