New Partnership to Ensure South Asia's Food Security in the Face of Climate Change

For Immediate Release

Friday, January 23, 2009
USAID Press Office

The U.S. Agency for International Development is working with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to support the Cereals Systems Initiative for South Asia (CSISA), a program that will help more than six million small farmers in South Asia achieve significant cereal yield increases over the next ten years.

The initiative will work through public and private sector partners in local hubs in South Asia to accelerate the development and uptake of new crop varieties and to make cereal systems more sustainable. By producing at least five million tons more grain annually as a result of CSISA, farmers will add economic value of more than $1.5 billion per year and will achieve substantial savings in production costs. It will reduce hunger and malnutrition and increase the incomes of small-holder farm families in South Asia.

The rising costs of energy and fertilizer and diminishing water availability are major constraints for farmers in South Asia. CSISA will develop and disseminate integrated cereal production packages - including new high-yielding, stress tolerant cereal varieties, better information technology and improved resource management practices. These interventions will help farmers grow more food in the face of climate change impacts while using less energy, water and fertilizer.

The initiative will be led by the International Rice Research Institute and three other Consultative Group for International Agriculture Research (CGIAR) Centers, CIMMYT, IFPRI and ILRI, along with partners in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. The combined funding for the first three years includes $15 million from USAID and almost $19.59 million from the Gates Foundation for CSISA and related projects.

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