“Who will suffer most from climate change?” Bill Gates poses this question in his latest blog post and what the Gates Foundation and its partners are doing to help.
“The world’s poorest farmers show up for work each day for the most part empty-handed. That’s why of all the people who will suffer from climate change, they are likely to suffer the most,” Gates wrote. This aligns with IRRI’s mission on the challenges of growing rice in the midst of the changing climate. Bob Zeigler, IRRI director general, pointed out that many farmers who belong to the poorest of the poor have not benefited fully from the first Green Revolution of the 60s-70s. This time around, the second Green Revolution seeks to leave no farmer behind.
Gates is optimistic, mentioning that many of the tools these farmers need to adapt are quite basic, including better seeds, fertilizer, and training:
“The Gates Foundation and its partners have worked together to develop new varieties of seeds that grow even during times of drought or flooding,” he adds. The tools he mentioned included the “scuba” rice, a flood-tolerant rice variety that can survive underwater for up to 2 weeks. So far, ten million farmers in South Asia have access to scuba rice, among other climate-smart rice varieties.
In April of this year, senior officers of the Gates Foundation came to IRRI headquarters to see for themselves the work being done at the world’s premier research center on rice. They toured IRRI’s research facilities and heard updates on the science and partnership between the two organizations, including the latest on climate change-ready rice varieties.