Bill Gates Will Feed The World
Microsoft co-founder and Harvard drop out is redirecting his philanthropic efforts in a new direction (though not necessarily moving away from polio) towards research in agriculture.
In a letter posted on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation website, he explains the the irony that the starving 15% of the world are farmer families.
He goes on to say:
“We do all these things with one goal in mind—helping people like Christina Mwinjipe, a farmer I met last year in Tanzania. Christina supports her family by farming cassava, a staple crop that provides a basic diet for more than 500 million people worldwide. (When dried to a powder, cassava is known as tapioca.) In the past two years, Christina’s crop has been invaded by two cassava diseases. The leaves of some of her plants are curled and withered, and covered in the white flies that carry mosaic disease. The roots of other plants are rotted by brown streak disease. Because of these diseases, she is depleting her savings to buy cassava to feed her three children. Her oldest son just passed his examinations to enter secondary school, but she doesn’t know where she’ll find the money to pay his fees. She is not sure what she will do about food when her savings run out.
For Christina and other small farmers—and for hundreds of millions of extremely poor people living in slums in big cities—getting food is the most pressing daily concern. And food is strongly connected to another constant worry: basic health. The lack of adequate nutrition is a key reason why poor children so often die of diseases like diarrhea that richer and better-fed children are able to fight off. Poor nutrition in childhood also prevents the development of both the brain and the body, severely and irreversibly limiting children’s ability to grow, learn, and become healthy, productive adults. Ultimately, there is very little in Christina’s life—or her children’s lives—that doesn’t depend on her cassava crop.”