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COP28: USAID announces $100M support for climate-smart agriculture innovation

At COP28, USAID is announcing $100 million in continued investments, for the CGIAR, the global research partnership for a food-secure future, over the next two years. 

This funding will support climate-smart agriculture innovation efforts and demonstrates how USAID is ramping up efforts to strengthen climate action in food systems under the U.S. government’s Feed the Future initiative. 

These investments build on USAID’s previous contributions in support of the Agriculture Innovation Mission (AIM) for Climate. During the launch of AIM for Climate at COP26, USAID – through Feed the Future – committed $215 million over five years to CGIAR. USAID has already exceeded this commitment and these investments are now enabling millions of smallholder farmers to access climate-smart innovations and continue to sustainably produce food in the face of climate change.  

In addition to support for the CGIAR, USAID is advancing the goals of AIM for Climate and climate-smart agriculture and food systems in developing and scaling innovation, including: 

  1. Expanding climate-focused research with two new Feed the Future Innovation Labs announced in October:
  • The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Climate Resilient Cereals will work to develop new climate-resilient varieties of cereal crops such as rice, wheat, sorghum, and millet. Climate change and extreme weather conditions such as drought and excessive heat negatively affect crop yields, particularly for smallholder farmers who depend solely on rain to water their crops. With more than 60 per cent of the world’s cereal grains produced by rain-fed agriculture, advancing this work is critical to generating a pipeline of climate-adapted varieties for current and future needs. The Climate Resilient Cereals Innovation Lab will work with USAID’s country partners to meet the unique needs of small-scale farmers, as well as incorporate the needs and preferences of women and youth in innovation design and dissemination. 
  • The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Irrigation and Mechanization Systems will research improvements in irrigation, mechanization, and water resource management systems for small-scale farmers. In sub-Saharan Africa, the majority of farm households rely on manual labor, with only 3.5 per cent of agricultural land irrigated and less than two tractors for every 2,500 acres. The Irrigation and Mechanization Systems Lab will support farmers to identify suitable technologies and access services that are proven to boost yields and use water more efficiently. As a result, farmers can grow more food and earn greater income, thus strengthening their resilience to shocks and spurring broader economic growth. 
  1. USAID also launched two calls to action in 2023 for AIM for Climate Innovation Sprints to mobilize private sector investments to address gender inequalities in food systems and reduce food loss and waste. USAID applauds the following Innovation Sprints that meet this call to action and will be announced at COP 28:
  2. Addressing Gender Inequality through Climate Action in Agrifood Systems: The CGIAR, in collaboration with 21 additional partners, including USAID, is catalyzing more than $30 million to support the design of innovative, gender-responsive climate solutions; the establishment of enabling environments for more equitable and widespread uptake of climate innovations; and the measurement of progress towards gender equality and climate resilience goals.
  3. Bringing more food to market: World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is partnering with growers and retailers to target food loss and waste in specific value chains with a focus on strawberries, 30 percent of which are lost before reaching market. With an initial investment of $150,000 and a goal of leveraging over $1 million, WWF is implementing pilot projects that use the analysis from their farm-focused Global Farm Loss Tool to prevent unnecessary loss and develop new market channels for farmers to sell their crops.
  4. Scaling methane mitigation through climate finance: Family Milk and RTI International are piloting a scalable, market-based approach to incentivize practices that reduce the methane intensity of dairy. This Sprint seeks to leverage $5 million in investment by 2025 to reach 200,000 dairy cows and reduce methane emissions by 560,000 MT, while improving livelihoods for small-scale dairy farmers.
  5. Extracting low-cost, high-volume seaweed for crop yield enhancement and protection: Sargassum seaweed inundates shorelines where it decomposes and emits methane. With an investment of more than $4 million, Carbonwave and Sarga Agriscience will use the seaweed to increase crop yields globally – reducing greenhouse gas emissions and crop input costs, while strengthening crop resilience to heat and drought.

Hunger plagues 735 million people around the world, and global demand for food is projected to increase by 50 per cent between now and 2050. At the same time, climate change is undermining our ability to achieve food security. USAID remains committed to advancing climate-smart agriculture and food systems transformation through climate action, but we cannot do it alone. We must all work together to make our food systems more resilient so that we can sustainably feed the world – even in the face of climate change.

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