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Bill Gates gives US$19.9 million grant
Philippines - A foundation run by Microsoft founder Bill Gates and his wife will provide a US$19.9 million (�13.6 million) grant to develop rice varieties that will benefit 400,000 small farmers in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, the Philippine-based International Rice Research Institute said Friday.

Gates announced the donation from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as part of a package of agricultural development grants during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, IRRI said in a statement issued in Manila.

The money will be used to develop and distribute over three years rice varieties that can withstand drought, floods and salty water in rain-fed ecosystems where farmers have little or no access to irrigation. Such conditions reduce yields, harm livelihoods, and foster hunger and malnutrition, it said.

The grant is part of a US$306 million (�208 million) package that nearly doubles the foundation's investments in agriculture since it launched its agricultural development initiative in mid-2006, the statement said.

"If we are serious about ending extreme hunger and poverty around the world, we must be serious about transforming agriculture for small farmers _ most of whom are women," Gates was quoted as saying.

"These investments _ from improving the quality of seeds, to developing healthier soil, to creating new markets _ will pay off not only in children fed and lives saved. They can have a dramatic impact on poverty reduction as families generate additional income and improve their lives."

Rice is the staple food of about 2.4 billion people and provides more than 20 percent of their daily calorie intake, and up to 70 percent for the poorest of the poor, IRRI said.

To meet the projected global demand, the world's annual rice production must increase by nearly 70 percent _ from 520 million tons to nearly 880 million tons _ by 2025. With nearly all irrigated rice-growing land already in production, there is considerable potential to increase rice yields on rain-fed land, IRRI said.

IRRI is the world's leading rice research and training center focused on improving the well-being of rice farmers and consumers, particularly the poor.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation supports health care and poverty reduction in poor countries and funds research on measures to deal with these problems.

Gates is relinquishing his daily duties at Microsoft later this year to focus full time on philanthropy.
MGR Archive 27.1.2008
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Russia Rapan $ 700
USA Jupiter Rice $630
USA Calrose #1 $830
USA Calrose #1 Paddy $480
EU Prices Baldo €660
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