Saturday, October 20, 2007

Gates foundation gives $8 million for African cotton program

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has given $8 million to a program to increase cotton yields in Africa.

Dunavant Enterprises of Memphis set up the program in Mozambique, where cotton farming is a primary source of income for thousands of rural families.

More than 35,000 farmers are enrolled in the program, Dunavant Mozambique, according to the National Cooperative Business Association, an organization that will oversee the grant.

The association, which promotes investment in small and medium-sized businesses, said the grant will help double the number of farmers in the program.

"You know we are excited," said Billy Dunavant, chairman of the Memphis company. "It gives us credibility in the communities in Africa and in the countries where we are involved. They can see we are trying to create something that will benefit them and benefit our company, too."

Dunavant Enterprises buys cotton around the world and resells it to textile mills.

Gates foundation gives $8 million for African cotton program