On Wednesday, the leftist Bolivian government turned away a donation of 100,000 chickens from American businessman-turned-philanthropist Bill Gates, calling it “offensive.”
“He does not know Bolivia’s reality to think we are living 500 years ago, in the middle of the jungle not knowing how to produce,” César Cocarico, the country’s minister of land and rural development told journalists in La Paz, according to the London Financial Times. “Respectfully, he should stop talking about Bolivia, and once he knows more, apologize to us.”
Gates rolled out his chicken plan on his blog, gatesnotes, where he declared that if he were poor, he would raise chickens, so he will begin giving poor people chickens to raise. (RELATED: Billionaire Bill Gates Issues Latest Instructions To World’s Poor People: RAISE CHICKENS)
“If you were living on $2 a day, what would you do to improve your life? I’ve met many people in poor countries who raise chickens, and I have learned a lot about the ins and outs of owning these birds,” the jet-setting software tycoon suggests. “I am excited about chickens. It’s pretty clear to me that just about anyone who’s living in extreme poverty is better off if they have chickens.”
Unfortunately, Bolivian government officials did not agree with Gates’ logic, probably for two reasons. First, although Bolivia is South America’s poorest nation, their economy has been growing since President Evo Morales took office in 2006. In the past decade, Bolivia’s GDP per capita has grown from $1,200 to $5,500, and production within the nation has soared.
The other reason might be that Bolivia already has plenty of chickens. According to the poultry association of Cochabamba, reports the Financial Times, Bolivia’s chicken production went from 146.6 million in 2009 to 193.6 million in 2014, and the metric tonnage of chicken meat produced increased by 7.5 percent from 2012 to 2014.
“It think it’s rude coming from a magnate that does not know Bolivia’s reality,” Cocarico said. “He should inform himself that us Bolivians have a lot of production and do not need any gifted chicks in order to live, we have dignity.”
This attempted donation seems to be Gates’ first. Although he has not posted an update on his blog regarding the Bolivian fiasco, he announced his program only a week ago.
According to Gates, chickens seem to be the best track to a larger economic portfolio for the impoverished in South America and sub-Saharan Africa.
An amateur farmer who “starts with five hens” can convince a rooster-owning neighbor to let the rooster do his magic and “fertilize the hens’ eggs.” Then, the farmer “can have a flock of 40 chicks” and, “with a sale price of $5 per chicken — which is typical in West Africa –,” the farmer “can earn more than $1,000 a year.”
They are also a means by which the impoverished can contribute to social progressivism.
“They empower women,” writes Gates. “Because chickens are small and typically stay close to home, many cultures regard them as a woman’s animal, in contrast to larger livestock.”
Hopefully the mutli-billionaire’s next chicken delivery goes smoother.