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Surprising Science

Farming: Bill Gates’ Next Project

It is a horrible irony when many of the world’s farmers, supplying food to local and global markets, are themselves on the verge of starvation, says Gates. We need another green revolution.

What’s the Latest Development?

Gates has invested more than two billion dollars to help the world’s poorest farmers increase their productivity. In his annual letter from the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation, he renews his concentration on agricultural investment, saying that a modest amount of research now could yield the next green revolution. “If we invest relatively modest amounts, many more poor farmers will be able to feed their families,” he says. “If we don’t, one in seven people will continue living needlessly on the edge of starvation.”

What’s the Big Idea?

Agricultural investment could result in two gains of great interest to Gates: An increase in food supply, greatly needed by rising populations, and an improvement in farmers’ quality of life, creating a more stable base for poor societies. When farmers can concern themselves with more than just finding the day’s rations, they can make plans for the future. Given a modicum of savings, families can send their children to school. And food is strongly connected to another of Gates’ worries: basic health.

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