“Access to existing technologies can double smallholder farmer productivity” – Bill and Melinda Gates
In their annual letter, philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates laid out their predictions for major breakthroughs in the next 15 years. Farmer productivity features prominently in their forecast.
In their seventh annual letter, Bill and Melinda Gates, co-chairs of the world’s largest charitable foundation, predict that the next 15 years will see major breakthroughs for most people in poor countries: ‘They will be living longer and in better health. They will have unprecedented opportunities to get an education, eat nutritious food and benefit from mobile banking. These breakthroughs will be driven by innovation in technology – ranging from new vaccines and hardier crops to much cheaper smartphones and tablets – and by innovations that help deliver those things to more people. The rich world will keep getting exciting new advances too, but the improvements in the lives of the poor will be far more fundamental – the basics of a healthy, productive life. It’s great that more people in rich countries will be able to watch movies on super high-resolution screens. It’s even better that more parents in poor countries will know their children aren’t going to die.’
One of the four major breakthroughs that Bill and Melinda Gates foresee is Africa’s ability to feed itself: ‘The world has already developed better fertilizer, and crops that are more productive, nutritious and drought- and disease resistant; with access to these and other existing technologies, African farmers could, in the next 15 years, theoretically double their yields. With greater productivity, farmers will also grow a greater variety of food, and they’ll be able to sell their surpluses to supplement their family’s diet with vegetables, eggs, milk and meat. With the right investments, we can deliver innovation and information to enough farmers in Africa to increase productivity by 50% for the continent overall.’
Find a pdf of the annual letter here.