January 25th, 2012
10:06 AM GMT
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(CNN) – In the hours before President Obama strode up to the podium to deliver his State of the Union Address, Bill Gates was quietly publishing his own thoughts for the year ahead.

Well, he was doing it as quietly as Bill Gates does anything.

Posting a link to his letter on Twitter, the businessman, philanthropist and regular entry on world rich lists wrote:  “We cannot tolerate a world in which 1 in 7 people is undernourished, undernourished (sic), stunted, and in danger of starving to death.”

The chairman of software giant Microsoft calls on the world to accelerate the “Green Revolution” started by the late Nobel Laureate Norman Borlaug in the 1960s.

“We can be more innovative about delivering solutions that already exist to the farmers who need them,” he writes. “Knowledge about managing soil and tools like drip irrigation can help poor farmers grow more food today.”

Read how it's crisis as usual for Indonesian farmers

He says it’s ironic that most of the one billion people who are currently living in extreme poverty across the world are farmers, living on farms. The problem, Gates says, is that their small plots don’t produce enough food to feed even one family. Investment is needed, he says, to help extremely poor people become self-sufficient.

The problem is that in the depths of a global economic crisis the developed world has a much louder voice than the millions of starving farmers who are just trying to survive.

Whole nations are lining up with begging bowls to service debts accrued during better times and it’s difficult to see where extra cash will come from to filter down to farmers.

Gates’ letter came out as delegates slept in hotels and chalets around the luxury ski resort of Davos, Switzerland ahead of the first day of the World Economic Forum.

Special: Davos 2012

In the days ahead there’ll be much talking about the need for money for just about everything and where it’s going to come from. Will there be any more for the poorest of the poor? Gates will certainly be speaking for them.

On the eve of the Davos talks, Gates was asked whether the current economic storm was a sign that capitalism had gone awry. On the contrary, he said, it’s “phenomenal.”

“I think capitalism is a phenomenal system because it’s generated so much innovation,” he told BBC radio.

However, he did acknowledge that mistakes had been made.

“I do think we’ve made some mistakes in government debt getting too high. We have to think how we up taxation, how we reduce some of the promises. So we’re going through a tough period but there is no other system that has improved humanity whether on a hundred year scale, or a ten year scale. The world is better off.”

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soundoff (82 Responses)
  1. Josia Nakash

    Dear Mr. Gates,

    Up until now our world has been focused on individual achievement. As we stand on the threshold of a new stage of our evolution, there is a need to shift to the collective. The only way foundations will be able to achieve sustainable results in this stage is by conveying vital information about the new process humanity is going through – the global-integral stage of our existence. Farmers need to receive this knowledge along with anything else you are giving them, otherwise these programs are doomed to fail.

    Your foundation is in an ideal position to advance humanity forward in a good way by providing us with guidance for the next stage. This can be achieved by conveying important messages to people directly on products or services that we use or access on a daily basis.

    Imagine us having a sustainable plan for our planet that we can all follow together. That is what people really need. Then no one will be short of anything. We will actually discover that we have an abundance of resources in every part of the world.

    This guidance is what people really need right now. Ultimately, concepts based on renewing humanity in a significant manner will serve as the foundation for an improved world.

    January 25, 2012 at 11:44 am |
  2. John

    With all the money you have, Mr. Gates, why don't you buy up land the size of several Disney Worlds and establish regional farms all over the world where there is the best climates for growing crops. Other large corporations could support the effort by developing a global distribution system that is energy efficient and not impacted by the rising price of oil.

    January 25, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
  3. thatguythere

    This is just as important for those of us on North American soil. How many of us could successfully feed ourselves, and our families, should the need ever arise? The dependence on grocery store chains could prove fatal for many, should any sort of disaster or massive economic failure occur.

    January 25, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
  4. john doe

    What John said!

    January 25, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
  5. Robert

    Yea, because a person in the US growing fat off an excessive food supply is at the same level as a country where over half the people are starving to death. Gotta love your logic.

    January 25, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
  6. Harry1

    More food = more people

    Welcome to the paradigm shift. Read Daniel Quinn's "The Story of B".

    January 25, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
  7. YS

    Need to control population growth in order to achieve long term sustainable results.

    January 25, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
  8. Sharif

    now depends what kind of farming ! research on artificial meat would be a clever idea but again no one is investing on that !

    January 25, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
  9. wayne

    there are many reason why the world is in a dire strait situation. You can blame climate, bad investments, the global economy, but there are only 2 words that are the true cause. I have been preaching this to by boys since they were kids, and now they are adults. These to words, there is to much of one and not enough of the other. They GREED and RESPECT, and until we improve in this department, we are doomed as a race and planet regardless how much money is invested.

    January 25, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
  10. britney012345

    Gods children,... Please God return to The One !...

    January 25, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
  11. JB

    To many people Bill,that's the problem.This little blue planet is going to be busting within 100 years and millions of green farmer are going to do zip all.

    January 25, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
  12. Lucke

    Another nice speech for a very old problem... Who's gonna profit with such investment? Wall street bankers???

    January 25, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
  13. Lucke

    Else... the real problem is that people don't have enough money to buy food... So, the problem is not in the farm.

    January 25, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
  14. Bill

    There are technologies such as newgardensllc.com that support programs that will enable small farmers to break the cycle of hunger and poverty—to sell what they grow or raise, increase their incomes, and make their farms more productive and sustainable.

    January 25, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
  15. john doe

    January 25, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
  16. Raul

    What I've seen many times, is that farmers doesn't organize, so the big corporations take advantage of that and they fix the price of the particular crop. Sometimes the price that the corporations are willing to pay are lower than the actual cost of producing say crop. But the mentallity of those farmers is that "this is my piece of land, it's mine, my own, I don't care what my neighbors are farming". If those farmers organize and pull together their land, they can be more productive and put themselves in a position to negotiate with buyers.

    January 25, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
  17. Opinion chan

    This article failed to mention gates himself owns large undisclosed chunks of farming related stocks e.g John Deere. So in effect by declaring this publicaly, he undoubtedly just got richer again by fanning the flames so to speak.

    January 25, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
  18. mover1111

    Simple and permanent solution of the world:

    The bigger the population of the world, the less the resources and the bigger the problems.

    Reduce the population, the more the resources and the less the problems.

    There is no other practicable solution if the humankind wants to get out of the miseries.

    January 25, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
  19. Orville Boutilier

    Dear Mr. Gates: Thanks for chiming in on this issue. You are quite right, of course. The problem is that society is still firmly in the grip of greed, and the payment for that big-screen tv over there means more than some problem that might come up long after we are gone, so why sweat it? People today have no issue with leaving the problems for the kids to suffer through. As long as the Hummer payments are up to date, all of the re-chargeables are properly managed, all of the downloads are complete, everyone meets at the club tonight for some more "trance-ertainment," everything is fine. A pity, eh? Mankind has not risen to the level that they can understand how they are actively engaged in their own self destruction. It will be interesting to watch.

    January 25, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
  20. thatguythere

    Alll I said was farming should be just as important a topic in North America, as we could quickly become a nation of starving people. In other countries making the most of limited farming resources is what needs to be addressed; learning to optimize what they have. Here, it's a problem of people being ignorant of how basic farming works beyond "I put seeds in the ground, water them, then eat it", since a great deal of North Americans don't seem to do much beyond a trip to their local Wal-Mart for a few cans of Chef Boyardee, or a Big Mac combo.

    Basic farming or gardening should be a part of our education. It would hopefully give us survival skills, and a respect for where our food comes from, and the amount of work it can take to feed a family on nothing more than what you can harvest yourself.

    January 25, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
  21. Tom

    Gates is saying essentially the same thing that Jim Rogers has been saying now for a few years. Glad he finally wised-up.

    January 25, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
  22. Anne

    I'm a farmers daughter but have move away from that way of life yrs ago. One thing that I have managed to pass onto my children is how to grow a vegetable garden. Our home is on a small lot but we have managed to cultivate a section of our lot to grow a very small amout of our food, the purpose is to pass on this knowledge to the next generation because I believe someday we will all be in charge of producing our own food and I want my kids to know that they have the skills. Bill, I think you've nailed it but the big question is how do we achieve this....good luck to all involved!!

    January 25, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
  23. Maarten Boot

    Dear Mr. Gates,
    As I know you're already spending a lot of money in the harvest of your words. Perhaps it's a good idea to ask your attention for the small and almost poorest country in Africa: Burundi. In the province of Makamba, in the neighbourhood of the small capital with the same name, there is an orphanage, managed bij Mr. Innocent Nimpagaritse (an honest, former Burundian secretary of state) and some Dutch supporters (as I am one). That small country deserves more financial aid and international attention than it gets. Recommendated! See www. tabarana.nl With kindly regards.

    January 25, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
  24. kessas

    yes yes they say we need to regulate population, and again capitalism or free enterprise is the best example. Today in any country you just look which are developed the population is decreasing and thanks to immigration from the third world. So this is the answer, we don't need forced birth control, we just need provide tools which is cheap energy to the third world, and we would see stabilization in birth rates. The high birth rates is more related with farming. Families are very large there because people can't afford expensive equipment to harness and seed the fields, so they have to have a lot of children in order to work their farmlands.

    January 25, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
  25. Killer Vaccine

    This b.i.t.c.h. doesnt look to good perhaps waS given one of his own vaccines heheheheheeheh

    January 25, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
  26. Arc

    The problem is not a lack of food. Its a lack of demand.

    The people who are undernourished do not have the money to buy the food even at a low prices. Commercial farmers will only make things worse by taking away the livelihood of a large number of family farmers. Their will be even more people who cannot afford to buy the food that is produced.

    January 25, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
  27. Frank

    Why not invest in tax evasion?; that's what Microsoft and Mitt Romney are so good at. First, this man steals from the common taxpayer by using tax loopholes, then he gives back to charity, as thought he had a soul. He should be investigated, exposed, and jailed.

    January 25, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
  28. abdussamad

    He fancies himself as a 21st century Malthus! There is more than enough food to feed the entire planet twice over. We need greater income equality and there is no easy fix for that.

    January 25, 2012 at 7:40 pm |
  29. us1776

    World to Bill Gates:

    Go away.


    January 25, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
  30. Whicket Williams

    I am in Ometepe Nicaragua, trying to help a farmer. The problem is, I am poor Help me help him, MR GATES give me 20k and I can make his farm produce. Wadda ya say?

    January 25, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
  31. Survive the attack

    He's talking about monsanto. Eugenics.

    January 25, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
  32. what the ?

    How would gates know anything about farming, he designed pc's for crying out loud.

    January 25, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
  33. Raul Eiriz

    Isn't the human being the most stupid animal?. We are the only living being that destroys it's own envairoment. We are mostly kind of blind, the day we'll see, weapons, money, frontiers and similar products of fear and greediness will desappear (they are not truly necessary). Intead of all that we will have forests of fruits trees everywhere and common sence and sanity will rule on Earth.

    January 25, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
  34. richard adawu

    well he has said it all its upto the politicians of our time to listen to one of the worlds greatest brains of our time and act on what he has said

    January 25, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
  35. Dana

    My respect, Mr Gates.

    January 25, 2012 at 10:01 pm |
  36. Gabriel Paul Uchenna

    A wonderful speech embedded into a wonderful initiative , Rich world need to look into Africa , help them out of subsistence farming , into mechanized farming ..which will enable them control hunger which will in turn reduce crime and terrorism, hunger breeds the ruthless , the heartless and merciless , rich world should look into the lives those that doesn't have so they dont still from theirs....Mr. Bill keep up the good work ...God bless you sir. Gabriel Paul Uchenna Abuja Nigeria)

    January 25, 2012 at 10:09 pm |
  37. Gabriel Paul Uchenna

    A wonderful speech embedded into a wonderful initiative , Rich world need to look into Africa , help them out of subsistence farming , into mechanized farming ..which will enable them control hunger which will in turn reduce crime and terrorism, hunger breeds the ruthless , the heartless and merciless , rich world should look into the lives those that doesn't have so they dont steal from theirs....Mr. Bill keep up the good work ...God bless you sir. Gabriel Paul Uchenna Abuja Nigeria)

    January 25, 2012 at 10:11 pm |
  38. Larry

    I note common threads here: 1. I know better for the individual. 2. Collectivize production. 3. Independence.
    What needs focus is how can I offer (not provide) help to resolve the problems facing the individual. Offer help, don't send packages of seed, irrigation equipment et al un-bidden. There is a life pattern that needs to be first desired and second offered without any preconditions. Adding 'extras', religious teaching or bias is the sure way to fail.

    January 25, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
  39. rad666

    Why spend more? The government will pay the farmer NOT to grow crops to keep the prices up. I know I worked in the San Joaquin valley years ago and was paid to chop up cotton because the grower planted too much. Your taxpayer dollars at work.

    January 25, 2012 at 10:24 pm |
  40. Lee

    If you want more crops then why does the government pay farmers and land owners to put there land in Set aside. I am sure there are many names for this type of programe. On this land nothing can be planted till it comes out of the programe.

    January 25, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
  41. John

    Good point, but higher taxation is not the answer. You could give governments triple the taxes and they would still spend it all and still go in debt because they are not held responsible for their actions.

    January 25, 2012 at 10:44 pm |
  42. ben

    Time actually is running out for thus people that would not live longer than 20 to 40 years from now. Especially if our planet would shift, reducing our plant and food for people.

    January 25, 2012 at 11:04 pm |
  43. ben

    Invest some in me and I would use my idea to increase the farming business. Because this would generate more income, save our planet and old people would increase their life.

    January 25, 2012 at 11:14 pm |
  44. Esben

    One of the biggest issues for the poor in the 3rd world is that even at the low costs they have from producing food they cant sell it because foreign food most of the time is much cheaper domestic. When they cant sell their goods on the market they cant make an income, and become very vurnable against pricefluctuations that occurs the volatility on the commodity market increases.

    January 25, 2012 at 11:15 pm |
  45. lina

    I guess I have the same concept with Mr. Bill Gates. To spend more on farming. What I would like to suggest is teach the farmers how to grow and take care their own crops and how to manage their funds after they harvest. So they know how to manage their life. But if you keep feeding the poor, w/out the knowledge where to get their food, then they become parasites always depending for somebody to drop food in their mouth. As there's saying goes, feed them a fish, and you feed them in one day. BUT TEACH THEM HOW TO FISH, then they feed themselves all their lives. Organize a group of farmers to educate them about farming, give them capital to produce their crops, and then see how they progress. Consider the story of Jesus in the Bible how He gave Talents to those who wiling to produce and the one lazy to produce. If you help the farmer and they don't produce, then give the talents to the one who is willing to work hard to produce. I go around our area encouraging farmers to plant with their vacant farms, tell them what to plant and how to take care them and I am happy their listen so they are now producing and harvesting their own food, instead of begging around asking others to feed them.

    January 25, 2012 at 11:18 pm |
  46. Enos

    I find the movie theater previews stating organizations would like donations for staving children in the United States a bit ironic. The government has been paying farmers for decades to not plant crops just ground cover. Chris Edwards made some great points in this article: http://www.downsizinggovernment.org/agriculture/subsidies

    So, we subsidize farmers not to grow crops to sell, then we are are hit up for donations to feed people that are hungry in our own country, we the tax payers need to put pressure on the government to start using common sense!!

    January 25, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
  47. fj

    Sorry Mr. Gates, but teaching farmers will not help if the elites and rulers in the poorest countries remain in power. We need a new caretaker colonialism for the poorest countries. The elites in African and other countries affected by famine have utterly failed to lift their populaces into the 21st century and to improve education and their economies so they will benefit all, not only the corrupt and murderous cliques in power. They can blame the West or other outside powers as much as you want, there was enough time since the end of colonialism and the cold war to fix this. Senile idiots like Robert Mugabe have destroyed thriving agricultural powerhouses such as Zimbabwe so they can send their wives shopping to Paris. The murderous Kim clan in North Korea, with the support of China, commits genocide of their own people by starvation to maintain their psychotic stone age regime. Radical islamists, supported by Saudi Arabian oil billions, make large regions of Africa ungovernable by funding civil wars in Somalia and Nigeria. Only when these criminals are deposed and made to work in farm labor camps, and if radical Islam is stopped, we can consider educating farmers in a safe and productive environment with actual support by their own governments.

    January 25, 2012 at 11:57 pm |
  48. Ron

    No Enos....We subsidize large corporations to not grow food. The small farmer is not subsidized. As a small farmer (~2000 acres) I also raise livestock and bred horses to exist. I grow 50/50 corn and soy and have never been paid not to raise either.
    Within the next 20 years the small farmer will not exist. The price of oil, effects not only fuel costs but almost everything else associated with growing crops. Large seed corporations are also a detriment to the existence of the small farmer.

    January 26, 2012 at 12:02 am |
  49. RogerE

    "it's difficult to see where extra cash will come from", how about the 96 billion that Apple has just lying around? How about the 2 trillion that corporations and the banks are sitting on?

    By the way, where the heck do people think cash and money come from in the first place? There are no shortages of anything except a shortage of common sense and agreement. We are in a vicious circle where we need cash to get things done, and to get cash, we need to do things. We only have our own stupidity and ignorance to blame.

    January 26, 2012 at 12:30 am |
  50. Joseph Sabine John

    Dear Bill,
    We should get more of the younger generation interested in farming but that is not going to happen cos farming really doesn't cut it as a chic profession. We need to give it some sort of credibility. For starters we should stop calling them 'farmer' instead Agricultural Engineers or Agricultural Managers. A bit more dignified. Then we seriously need to train them on the latest technologies in agriculture. It should include certain aspects of engineering and management also. 'Give a man a fish, and he eats for a day. Teach him to fish and he eats for a life time.' Its not about funding. Its about education. Hope you get what I'm getting at.

    January 26, 2012 at 12:43 am |
  51. yrrab

    thanks to you mr bill gates
    for having attention in agricultural industry and all of us are the beneficiary of it in commensalism........

    January 26, 2012 at 12:58 am |
  52. Christine

    I know let’s just send food to all of these people in these starving countries, great idea, but the distribution in many of these places is halted by cartels and terrorists. The poor you will always have with you.

    January 26, 2012 at 1:01 am |
  53. Janice from Texas

    Go Bill. Yes, food might mean more people–more, healthy vibrant people who figure out how to make their lives better in sustainable ways. Too often, extraction and exploitative industries become get linked to government dictators in the Developing World. These dictators don't care about the people, but feathering their pockets by exploiting uneducated, poor people and extracting exportable riches or using agriculture to grow illegal drugs for export. Right now the people of Egypt (that brought the world a bread basket at one time) will tell you their main problem of the new government is getting bread on the table. By looking at how we train people to improve their lives, we equip people to take control of their lives. But let women control the money. They will spend it for their children. . . not always true of men.

    January 26, 2012 at 1:20 am |
  54. Itellyouwhat

    January 26, 2012 at 1:28 am |
  55. Gail

    Bill Gates, please, just don't get in bed with Monsanto. They've been promising for years to help feed more people with their patented seeds and pesticides. However, they haven't delivered on their promises. Instead, they have delivered on greatly increasing their company profits, spreading more poisons over the earth, and trying to destroy the time-honored, self-empowering practice of farmers saving their own seed. We need to give farmers the tools that will help build healthy abundance for both themselves and the soil.

    January 26, 2012 at 1:53 am |
  56. Bemis29


    January 26, 2012 at 2:04 am |
  57. docmartin

    Isn't anybody going to comment about Monsanto's seed patent debacle and their growing monopoly on the world's food seed supply, and how that is affecting the world's food supply (for the worse)??

    January 26, 2012 at 2:15 am |
  58. Bemis29

    OoooooBooohoooo! I feel so terrible for the farmers. Gates must have his head up his ass! The farmers own all the land! and that land is worth big bucks! The farmers in this country are multimillionaires. If they have a bad crop year....no worry because they have very comprehensive insurance and good old uncle sam bails them out with billions in farm subsidies. Getting tired of my taxes going to these millionaires. With a 14 trillion dollar deficit you would think the republican dolts would cry we aint got the money...instead they fully support giving these priviledged spoiledfarmers more tax payer money. The hypocrisy needs to end!!

    January 26, 2012 at 2:16 am |
  59. DMarden

    God forbid Mr. Gates made money in his lifetime. Jealousy isn't going to help this problem. What will help this problem is farmers that farm smarter and more effectively. The bad part of this is the fact that the new equipment and tech, cost ALOT of money and most farms in the U.S. are beat down just like the rest of the country. The rest of the world? If they are to survive and learn how to sustain themselves, people who teach these theories need to be allowed to educate and help them without their government's getting in the way. The world is a messed up place and we are all to blame. I just don't see the point in blasting Bill Gates for speaking up. If you had that kind of money you'd live exactly the way he does so quit thinking you wouldn't.

    January 26, 2012 at 2:16 am |
  60. Hfdiver

    I respect capitalism so why not just ask joe the plumber what he thinks since he is run running for congress and has such a stellar record as a business man or grinch since he couldn't make his child support payments or any of the tea baggers who talk the talk but can't walk the walk

    January 26, 2012 at 3:05 am |
  61. DOn

    Anyone who says Gates should put the money in has absolutely no idea how much that man does for charities every year. He is easily one of the top 5 charity givers in the world and does so much for so many people with his money. Just because a man has money doesn't mean he needs to give any of it to other people, but he does anyways. It's all these stupid "occupiers" that believe everyone that has money cheated in order to get it.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:48 am |
  62. Miss Demeanor

    Bill Gates is an extremely generous philanthropist. In contrast, Steve Jobs donated nothing to charity. So, (read some of these comments and see) which of the two people routinely bash? Bill Gates. Jobs-run Apple has the worst record of exploiting overseas workers of all the tech goliaths, marks up their prices obscene amounts and still, Jerk Jobs, self-absorbed hippie gave back NOTHING. Wise up, fanboy sheep.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:57 am |
  63. Bruce Macintyre

    Dear Mr. Nakash,

    Thoughtful comments. But I'd like to just point out the danger of a "collective." As Plato pointed out, the most effective government is a benevolent dictatorship. History has proven, however, the dangers of establishing the means of enforcing collective measures on a populace. Once the means of control are in place, they may be wielded by those far from benevolent. This is why Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong are among history's great mass murderers, even if they believed they were benefiting the majority of the people. Individual freedom is messy and not always the most effective mechanism, but it is the best of the many choices.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:11 am |
  64. Robert

    I see your point. I thought you were one of those "America first" nutjobs, my mistake.

    January 26, 2012 at 5:40 am |
  65. Rob Leclerc

    I find this ironic. I'm work for a company called SeedRock Agriculture, a for-profit socially conscious agriculture company in Africa. For the past two years, we've sought investor capital from the IMF, and many many socially conscious investors, trusts, and foundations, but no one was willing to take a risk in Africa, especially not some upstart. Cascade was in that list (Bill Gates family office), but they wouldn't even meet with us.

    We have an all-star agriculture team, including one of the best emerging market Agronomists in the world, and an advisory board that includes three ex-Presidents of African countries, but because we lack a lengthy track record operating in Africa (But who does?), we are viewed as a "start-up" not worthy of serious investment. "Come back in a few years when you are mature," they tell us. At that point, however we won't need them. Currently our business provides jobs and training to over 2,000 independent farmers, but investor fear has significantly impaired our growth plans and the impact that we can have on local people in the areas we operate. Agriculture is not only critical for feeding the world, but it is a critical foundation for Africa's economy and infrastructure. Without first establishing a strong Agricultural base, Africa will not be able to lift itself out of poverty.

    While I aplaude Bill's philanthropy, socially conscious investors need to start investing more in sustainable, for-profit businesses, if we are ever going to solve this problem. We don't put food on the table because the butcher, the baker, and the farmer are generous.

    -Rob Leclerc

    January 26, 2012 at 6:31 am |
  66. Mark Zuckerberg

    Did he say "Spend more on farming", or "Spend more on Farmville"?

    January 26, 2012 at 7:27 am |
  67. Eric

    Like most people who believe in infinite growth on a finite planet, Bill Gates fails to understand that the "Green Revolution" was just as much as spreading petrochemical based farming around the globe as it was new strains of plants. Fossil fuels are not unlimited and once either oil or natural gas supplies become scarcer, farming output will drop significantly. That is, if water shortages, global warming or phosphorous supplies don't cause problems first. That's the thing about our consumption of the planet's resources being 25% beyond the global regeneration rate; it doesn't take much to take us over the edge.

    January 26, 2012 at 8:11 am |
  68. Kim

    Hey Bill- why dont you tell every one how many stocks you just bought for Monsanto- yea the people who make the GMO seeds that they brainwash the farmers to buy and sprinkle with magic RoundUp- your not foolin me BILL!

    January 26, 2012 at 10:03 am |
  69. Curious James

    The small-scale farmer in this country has been largely driven out by the mass-scale agro-industrial complex. Invest in agriculture? Fine, but not mass-scaled industrial Earth-raping like we have an abundance of here in the US. Most of the small farmers anywhere on this planet have no problems whatsoever 'feeding their families' with what they can produce – contrary to anything a Monsanto spokesman or agro-business blowhard would tell you. What they're not going to say is "...if all they do is provide for themselves and little else, how are they going to get enough money to buy cars and TV's and other stuff? How are we going to convert them into CONSUMERS?!" The root of the problem (as has been stated repeatedly) is GREED. More people all over the world need to be farmers, for sure. If you don't produce your own food, you have to buy it. Many many people in this world are no longer associated with agriculture or any other means of sustaining themselves, so they have no money, and therefore no food. They DON'T need jobs making sneakers or iTurds or greeting people at WalMart. They need some help and compassion from those of us that are better off. Mostly, they need political and social systems that are NOT chained to the false god 'capitalism', whose primary purpose is the exploitation of the MANY to the benefit of the FEW. Please, people, do your research on this. To quote a really smart guy... "I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate (the) grave evils (of capitalism), namely through the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented toward social goals. In such an economy, the means of production are owned by society itself and are utilized in a planned fashion. A planned economy, which adjusts production to the needs of the community, would distribute the work to be done among all those able to work and would guarantee a livelihood to every man, woman, and child. The education of the individual, in addition to promoting his own innate abilities, would attempt to develop in him a sense of responsibility for his fellow-men in place of the glorification of power and success in our present society."

    — Albert Einstein, Why Socialism?, 1949

    January 26, 2012 at 10:08 am |
  70. Ms. Josia Nakash

    @Bruce Macintyre

    Thank you – I'm talking about the benevolent kind :)

    January 26, 2012 at 10:53 am |
  71. Michelle Sands

    Some of the best minds have been trying to solve this continuing problem. Sometimes some of the best minds get caught up in talk and thinking and theories-cuz their good at it. I dont think Bill Gates has this problem ! I look forward to what he can do here but I suspect I will have to dig to find the reporting of it! I think "Rob LeClerc" 's comments in this post are important as long as not some scam, but he sounds legit. At home here, I like the thoughts of upward farming, literally, in NYC, etc. In Africa, they what about a brief trade school, and the privately owned farms would both produce and employ. Water being the issue, maybe upward works there as well. Nothing drained or wasted. I am really glad to see this being worked on. How can I help!

    January 26, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
  72. sameh

    very sad situation See the elephant is dying and die


    January 26, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
  73. lmc645

    Mr Gates is right. One of these days a lot of city folk are going to be hungry. Corporate farming means they set food prices and make profits. Small farmers have been pushed to the wall and so many have just given up. And that's just in the US.

    January 26, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
  74. Drowlord

    It's a shame when hard working people use the best information available to them to achieve basic necessities and flounder. The wealthy should be embarrassed by this.

    However, it's no shame when marginal workers make little effort to educate themselves and flounder. Farming a small plot of land isn't very much work. It's no 40-hours a week, 50 weeks a year. It's more like 20 hours a week, 8 weeks a year. And I find it hard to believe that anybody in this world would not have access to agricultural information that's half a century old at this point. A one-acre farm should produce enough food for a family of four, and in reality, a one-acre farm would more reasonably be called a garden and the people who "work" on it called unemployed.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
  75. Anna

    For those of you looking to help and don't know where to start, get involved in local community garden or CSA farming organizations. It'll open doors for you. To the rest of you who like to talk and do nothing- it's time for you to put your flapping gums to good use. Get involved. That's the best thing that can be done here.

    January 26, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  76. Teach African People how to Grow Small Farms

    Please learn more about GMOs before saying that you support Mr. Gates project!! If you haven't googled GMOs, please do so before posting here.
    Mr. Gates, I believe you have made the wrong decision in working with large agri-business to "save" Africa. People all over the world have come to the realization that Genetically Modified (GMO) crops present a danger to health and it is unethical to push these dangerous crops onto the poorest citizens of the world simply because they don't have any other choices. You are manipulating poor and vulnerable people to make a profit. Owning 23 million dollars in shares of Monsanto and then pushing these dangerous products and pesticides on poor countries is not philantropic work, it's absolutely, unacceptable, greed. Instead, you should be focusing your efforts on helping these people to set up community gardens, teach them how to manage the crops and save seeds for growing the following year. Everyone in the community can participate in food production without the need for expensive pesticides and having to re purchase new seeds from Monsanto year after year because of the "terminator" gene that Monsanto puts into it's seeds.
    Bottom line- treat the people in Africa as you would your own brothers and sisters. They are humans too who need to have a more sustainable way of producing food. Remove yourself from this special interest and you might be able to think clearly about this situation. Stop before it's too late!! GMOs are destroying health, bee populations, sustainable agriculture and the environment!!

    January 26, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
  77. peter wolo

    That's exactly what they are doing in South America. Burning down the Amazon jungle for farms , and strip mining the jungle and polluting the rivers with mercury for gold. Maybe if we all had i-pads and smart phones we could save the planet and its civilization.

    January 26, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
  78. Rob

    I love this guy – buy 6% of all of Deere & Co Stock and a couple months later states we need too start farming – awesome

    http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D9PA13081 DOT htm

    January 26, 2012 at 9:22 pm |
  79. seo

    Hello! I know this is kinda off topic however I'd figured I'd ask. Would you be interested in trading links or maybe guest authoring a blog article or vice-versa? My blog addresses a lot of the same subjects as yours and I believe we could greatly benefit from each other. If you might be interested feel free to send me an e-mail. I look forward to hearing from you! Awesome blog by the way!

    January 31, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  80. Marcie

    Gates is evil. He's investing in Monsanto and the new plants released on wired. Fools

    May 1, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
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