How do you help people who live on less than a dollar a day?
This is one of the challenges that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is taking on. In preparation for a recent visit there, Raoul and I reread a speech that Bill Gates gave at the 2009 world food prize symposium
It is worth a read.
He points out that three-quarters of the world’s poorest people get their food and income by farming small plots of land. So if we can make small-holder farming more productive and more profitable, we can have a massive impact on hunger and nutrition and poverty.
If we are successful, we can also have a massive impact on reducing population growth as brilliantly demonstrated by Hans Rosling during a talk for TED.
Gates points out that “the global effort to help small farmers is endangered by an ideological wedge that threatens to split the movement in two.
On one side is a technological approach that increases productivity.
On the other side is an environmental approach that promotes sustainability.
Productivity or sustainability – they say you have to choose.
It’s a false choice, and it’s dangerous for the field. It blocks important advances. It breeds hostility among people who need to work together. And it makes it hard to launch a comprehensive program to help poor farmers.”
“The fact is, we need both productivity and sustainability – and there is no reason we can’t have both.”