Bill Gates to fund agriculture research to fight poverty
Pioneering research in Edinburgh to end world hunger has been backed by American billionaire Bill Gates.
The Microsoft founder and philanthropist flew into the city yesterday to pledge more than £28 million to the Edinburgh University work.
Money will fund the institution’s Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines (GALVmed) work to improve livestock health for millions of farmers in Africa and Asia.
“For over a billion people living in the world’s poorest countries, agriculture and livestock are a lifeline out of poverty,” Mr Gates said.
“The science and research being led by the great minds here in Edinburgh are making huge strides in improving the health and productivity of livestock.
“In short, if you care about the poor, you should care about agriculture. And if you care about agriculture, you should care about livestock.
“What that means in this context is helping poor farmers get as much as possible out of their animals.”
The Bill And Melinda Gates Foundation has pumped millions into research aimed at improving livestock health.
Investments are aimed at helping to lift people in the world’s poorest countries out of hunger and poverty.
Mr Gates’ money will be given over five years to GALVmed – a public-private partnership developing affordable and accessible livestock vaccines, medicines and diagnostics.
He praised the “world-class Scottish agricultural science” and said the country punched above its weight in its “impact on modern life”.
Mr Gates also met First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to hear about the NHS Global Citizenship Programme on health work, including helping Scottish doctors volunteer overseas.
Ms Sturgeon said: “I was delighted to welcome Bill Gates to Scotland and to introduce him to some of the fantastic international development work being undertaken by our NHS Scotland staff.
“I am grateful to each and every one of our nurses, clinicians and even engineers, who often give up their own time to do this life-changing work.
“The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have an incredible record of bringing about substantial change in the world’s poorest countries, empowering them to improve their life chances in a range of ways, from improving healthcare and combating infectious diseases to increasing access to education.
“It is fantastic that they are interested in hearing about the work that Scotland is also doing.”
Also in town, UK International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt announced a £90m funding package for disease-resistant “super crops”.
And she pledged £4m to the Centre for Tropical Livestock Genetics and Health based in Edinburgh and Nairobi.
The joint venture by Edinburgh University, Scotland’s Rural College and international research organisation CGIAR works on livestock health and productivity in tropical climates.
“New ideas, cutting-edge science and innovative partnerships with organisations like the Bill And Melinda Gates Foundation will help Britain create a healthier, more secure and prosperous world for us all,” Ms Mordaunt said.