Farming has the power to lift up lives of the poor, says Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft and co-chair of The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which is funding agricultural research for developing countries. Gates spoke this morning at The World Food Prize in Des Moines, Iowa.
"Helping the poorest small holder farmers to get food from field to market is the single most powerful lever to ending hunger and poverty,” Gates says.
But Gates fears that solutions to solving the world's food crisis are being endangered by division. On the one side are groups who want to increase technological improvements in crop production, including biotechnology, and on the other side are those fighting for sustainability.
"They say you have to choose, but I believe it is a false choice,” Gates says. "I believe we can have both.”
The next green revolution must be guided by technology, Gates explains. "When productivity is high, people can farm on less land,” he says. "We have to develop more crops that can be grown in a drought. But we will never get there without a continuous and urgent science based approach.”
The Gates Foundation is collaborating both public and private partners around the world to support a wide range of crop production methods, including some transgenic approaches. Gates says he was inspired by the work by Dr. Norman Borlaug, father of the green revolution.
"We can be the generation that sees Dr. Borlaug's dream fulfilled, a world free from hunger,” Gates says.
For more information on The Gates Foundation work on crop production, read the upcoming issues of Farm Journal magazine.