Program Background: Crop Research
Beginning in 1983, the Foundation gave about $18.5 million over 10 years to further plant science at U.S. universities as a part of the Plant Biology Program, which honored the founder William L. McKnight’s roots in farming. Upon evaluation of the program in the mid-1980s, the board discovered that their deepest concern in the area was for world hunger. The Foundation then put intense effort into figuring out how to address the massive problem of world hunger effectively with a relatively modest investment. The Collaborative Crop Research Program began in 1993 with a series of planning grants, followed in 1995 with grants to nine exemplary, cross-cultural partnerships among U.S. scientists and scientists in Asia, South America, and Africa. The program’s goal is to enhance scientific leadership and research capacity in developing countries, stimulate research on neglected crops, and help countries build a sustainable capacity to ensure their own food security.
In 2008, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation recognized McKnight's successful program with a grant of $26.7 million over five years. This generous funding allows the CCRP to capitalize on the two foundations' combined resources, and build upon its25-year field history strengthening a network of scientists, organizations, and communities working for food and nutritional security. In 2013, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation approved another five years of support for McKnight's crop research efforts.