April 27, 2012 | by Bill Gates
A Simple Advance in Crop Storage Aids Poor Farmers in Africa
Cowpeas are a protein-rich crop that thrives in the harsh, arid climate of West and Central Africa. But poor farmers lost up to 50 percent of their crops to pests until researchers came up with a cheap way to store this important food staple.
On a recent trip to Africa, I saw the incredible impact that simple innovations can have on the world’s poor. For years, farmers trying to eke out a living growing cowpeas—a protein-rich staple—would lose as much as half their crop to weevils. As I showed students during a recent talk at Stanford, a simple, inexpensive triple-layer bag invented by researchers at Purdue University enables farmers to protect their entire crop. This allows farmers to charge more for their crops and has increased their incomes by as much as 30 percent.