Let’s Close the Funding Gap in Agricultural Innovation

Even before COVID-19, 822 million people were undernourished in 2018, up by 10 million compared to 2017. Now, according to the World Health Organization, another 83 million, and possibly as many as 132 million people, may have gone hungry in 2020 due to the global recession caused by the pandemic.

Can agriculture keep up with the growing challenges that humanity faces, such as evolving disease, spreading of pests, diminishing natural resources, and a changing climate, to feed 10 billion people by 2050?

Current global investment by governments, private industry and the public sector in agriculture research and development amounts to tens of billions of dollars a year. Yet the world is nowhere near achieving zero hunger, a 2030 objective of the Sustainable Development Goals.    

Fortunately, there’s hope because there is a major source of untapped funding for agriculture innovation. Individual donors, who donate almost five times more than foundations do in the US every year and support research and innovation in medicine, science and so many other fields, are almost completely disengaged from funding agricultural innovation. This means that many promising experiments and projects go unfunded, an opportunity gap that, if we are to feed a hungry world in a time of so many challenges, it is time to close. 

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When a farmer has a simple idea for veterinary herbs or irrigation timing that they want tested by a credentialed scientist, it falls through the cracks in government bureaucracy.​​

If the world could harness the power of individual donors in supporting agricultural innovation, we could not just advance food security, but also reduce poverty, improve nutrition, mitigate climate change and even enhance national security. 

Individual donors care about agricultural innovation as they do in so many other fields, yet historically there have been no vehicles for directly engaging individuals to support agricultural innovation. Related charitable causes, such as environmental protection and medical research funding, are well established. Now is the time to harness the power of individual donors to support agricultural innovation. The vast majority of the world’s farms are small, family-owned enterprises, and agricultural innovation can generate social returns. 

This is the gap that Grow Further intends to fill.  By building a community that connects individuals with farmers and agricultural researchers from around the world, we will provide a powerful, effective funding mechanism to directly support ideas from both farmers and researchers that have been traditionally overlooked by big institutions and corporate investors. Through our network, we will spur civic participation in agricultural research and investment as never before, and together advance global food security and sustainable agriculture for years to come. 

Grow Further will soon launch its initial circle of individual investors who will review and select the first of what can grow to be hundreds and then thousands of the most promising agricultural innovations. To learn more, see our membership description and application at https://growfurther.org/get-involved/

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