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Gates on Agriculture: “Imagine a Different Future”

Gates on Agriculture: "Imagine a Different Future"

In a recent speech in Rome, Bill Gates addressed the global agriculture community, encouraging a revitalization of the world’s agriculture and food system.  Stating that the current system is “outdated and inefficient,” Gates argued that increasing coordination among international food agencies such as the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Food Programme (WFP), and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is crucial to reversing the decline in agricultural productivity growth, which has fallen from 3% in 1990 to 1.5% in recent years. With a new director general of the FAO and a new executive director of the WFP, Gates stated that now the perfect climate exists to improve the international agriculture system.

Gates proposed utilizing “public scorecards to measure how countries, food agencies, and donors are contributing to the overall goal of reducing poverty.” In his view, scorecards will significantly help the international agriculture community achieve its poverty reduction goals because the cards will measure the success of food aid and food production plans, directing donor money to those plans that are effective.

Gates further supported his idea by comparing it to the achievements of programs dedicated to meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which have been relatively successful because it is easy to measure their progress.  Also, leaders are aware that their country’s progress on MDGs are compared to those of others, encouraging them to devote more resources towards achieving their goals, in effect, “creating a sort of race to improve.”

Bill Gates solidified his commitment to this race as he announced $200 million in grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation “to fund agricultural development that works.”

Posted by: Yekaterina Fomitcheva

Image credit: European Parliament/Flickr