Friday, October 16, 2009

Bill Gates talks increasing productivity and sustainability in Africa

The World Food Prize symposium kicked off today with speaker Bill Gates. His main message was that the solution to reducing poverty is to help the world's poorest farmers be more productive, and his aim is to do this while using sustainable development strategies. The Gates foundation had announced earlier that they were providing grants adding up to nearly $120 million to bring green sustainability to sub-Saharan Africa. The grants will go to a variety of agricultural research as well as using cell phones and Internet to educate the farmers. There needs to be an increase in productivity in the African farmers, but they also have to be the leaders in green agriculture. By doing both of these they will increase the production while saving the lands so that other areas of development, research and the environment can be sustained as well. The crops need to be able to sustain the harshest conditions. He went on to say that the the solution must come from everyone; corporations need to adapt their large scale farming to be beneficial for small farmers, and universities, scientists and organizations need to develop funds and new information to help as well. Bill stated, "They are the solution, the best answer for a world that is fighting hunger and poverty and trying to feed a growing population." There is no reason to not have productivity and sustainability, because we need both. The prize this year went to Purdue University professor Gebisa Ejeta of Ethiopia for his development of the drought resistant sorghum, which some of the grant money will be working with.
-Sara Frodge