Bill Gates explains the importance of livestock in helping the world's poorest people

Posted on: 30/01/2018

“If you care about the poor, you should care about agriculture. And if you care about agriculture, you should care about livestock.”


The quote above is by Bill Gates, and was part of an inspirational speech he delivered in Edinburgh on Friday 26th January 2018.

The speech was delivered as part of an event to celebrate UK innovation in agriculture, which involved Bill Gates and Government Minister Penny Mordaunt visiting the University of Edinburgh’s Easter Bush campus. This event showcased how communities worldwide are being helped by innovative livestock research being undertaken in the UK, and particularly in Edinburgh.

Over 1.3 billion people depend on livestock for their livelihoods, but rearing livestock in developing countries is challenging. The event showcased how UK research is improving the health and productivity of livestock which, in turn, raises incomes of vulnerable farmers and their communities in the developing world.

The event also highlighted how investment in agricultural research from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the UK Government Department for International Development (DFID) is benefitting developing countries. Bill Gates explained how the Gates foundation will continue to partner with DFID in future, following the successful results to date from working in partnership.

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During his visit, Mr Gates provided several examples of the success of such initiatives including work undertaken by the Edinburgh-based charity Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines (GALVmed).

GALVmed has developed a vaccine suitable to combat Newcastle Disease - a devastating disease of poultry, which can kill up to 90% of flocks Рin developing countries. The vaccine produced is suitable for use in tropical climates and very affordable, and GALVmed programmes have now vaccinated 100 million birds.

Key initiatives announced and showcased during the day include:

1) The formal launch of the University of Edinburgh’s Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Security, a £35 million research and teaching initiative focused on safeguarding the future of the world’s food supplies. This is being led by Professor Geoff Simm.

2) $40m additional funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for GALVmed, which works to improve the accessibility and affordability of livestock vaccines, medicines and diagnostics in developing countries.

3) Secretary of State Penny Mordaunt unveiled a package of investments in research, which included £4m for the Centre for Tropical Livestock Genetics and Health , which is based in the University’s Roslin Institute at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary studies. The Centre is a partnership between The Roslin Institute, Scotland’s Rural College and the International Livestock Research Institute based in Kenya and Ethiopia.


This article was written by Dr David Telford of the KTN Agri-Food team. The KTN would like to thank the Roslin Institute, who invited David to attend the event.


If you would like to discuss opportunities and support for innovation in agri-food you can contact KTN’s Agri-Food Team.


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