In this year’s letter, Bill and Melinda Gates are making one big bet for the next 15 years: The lives of people in poor countries will improve faster in the next 15 years than at any other time in history thanks to breakthroughs in health, farming, banking, and education.
Putting the spotlight on agriculture, the letter highlights that although Africa has the largest amount of unused arable land, African farmers are currently only getting one fifth of the yield that farmers in developed countries are able to achieve.
But the future is looking bright, as Gates argues that innovations in farming will close this yield gap within the next fifteen years. This can be done by equipping farmers with better fertilizer and crops that are more productive, nutritious, and drought- and disease-resistant. Reaching farmers with extension services that provide information on when to plant for the best yield, how to rotate crops in order to improve soil health, and the most efficient ways of using fertilizer, will all play a key role.
Mobile technology, the letter argues, will also be a game changer for boosting agricultural productivity in Africa, allowing rural farmers to check weather reports and market prices as well as send and receive payments.
With the right tools and interventions, Gates believes that Africa can feed itself by 2030:
By growing more varied and nutritious food and getting it to the people who need it at the right time, Africa can achieve food security by 2030. It will still import food when it makes sense to do so, but it will also export much more, eventually achieving a net positive trade balance. Famine will strike less often — and when it does, it will be African countries that take care of the response.
To read the 2015 Annual Letter from Gates, click here. You can also post your bet for what your solution for feeding the world will by tweeting @gatesfoundation or using the hashtag #GatesLetter