Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency (RIPE) is an international research project that is engineering plants to photosynthesize more efficiently to increase crop yields. By sustainably increasing the productivity of staple food crops, the project aims to reduce hunger and poverty for farming families in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia.
Half a century of research has provided us with the knowledge and tools to resolve bottlenecks in photosynthesis. Computer models identify the weak links; genetic engineering resolves them with precision and speed. The model’s predictions are first tested in model plants, and only successful approaches are incorporated into the project's four staple crops: rice, cassava, cowpeas, and soybeans. Because photosynthesis is the same in many plants, RIPE technologies can one day be transferred to other crops.
RIPE formed in 2012, funded by a five-year, $25-million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In 2017, the project received a $45 million, five-year reinvestment to continue its transformative work from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, and the U.K. Department for International Development. As a partner of the Gates Foundation, RIPE will ensure smallholder farmers in developing countries will have global access to the project's intellectual property.