Last updated at 15:54 GMT, Monday, 27 February 2012

Call for more help for poorest farmers

Summary

27 February 2012

The founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates has said that the international community's efforts to fight hunger and poverty are inefficient and outdated. He said advances made by the digital revolution needed to be harnessed to help the world's poorest farmers more effectively.

Reporter
Alan Johnston

Bill Gates

The founder of Microsoft Bill Gates.

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Mr Gates said more needs to be done to support poor farmers in South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere. He said there was a lack of coordination between governments, aid donors and the UN's agencies, like the World Food Programme. Mr Gates called for the setting up of what he called a "public score card" system.

This would make it easier to tell how well, or how badly, different countries and agencies were performing in the fight to reduce poverty.

He said the effort to help small farmers also needs to harness the power of advances made in digital technology. In an age when satellites can tell instantly exactly how much wheat is in a field, he said, it was a shame that people were still being sent out with pen, and paper and tape measures to try to do the same job.

Mr Gates said that the stakes couldn't be higher for the families of poor farmers. If they don't benefit from the fruits of the digital revolution they will fall far behind. But Mr Gates believes that if they can be connected to some of the latest breakthroughs in science they will have a chance to leapfrog forward.

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Vocabulary

coordination

organising work efficiently

agencies

organisations

setting up

creating

score card

a piece of paper or document that a score can be officially recorded on

harness

control and make use of

digital technology

modern and up-to-date equipment

a shame

sad or disappointing

the stakes

the risks (sometimes financial)

the fruits of

the achievements or successes of

leapfrog

get to a higher position by missing out some stages

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