Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates launched a new initiative under which he will donate 100,000 chickens to the extremely poor living in the Sub-Saharan African region. The program which is christened Coop Dreams will help to improve the financial and health conditions of the impoverished families living in the area. The birds will be vaccinated against common diseases before donation.
Announcing the Coop Dreams initiative on social media, Gates stated, “When I was growing up, chickens weren’t something you studied, they were something you made silly jokes about,” he further added, “It has been eye-opening for me to learn what a difference they can make in the fight against poverty. It sounds funny, but I mean it when I say that I am excited about chickens.”
According to the United Nations reports about 41 percent of sub-Saharan Africans live in extreme poverty. Bill Gates believes that chickens are a good investment as they are easy and inexpensive to take care of. Thus, they will prove to be an effective way to tackle poverty. Therefore, in association with the charity organization Heifer International Gates will be donating flocks of chickens to families in need. The initiative aims to make improvised breeds of chickens available to 30% of the rural families rising from the current 5%.
It’s a determined plan that can considerably increase nutrition and income levels in one of the most impoverished regions of the world. Gate believes in the Math behind this initiative; a farmer with three hens and one rooster can breed them to produce 12 chickens in a time span of three months. And with the selling price of $5 per chicken, a farmer with a small starting kit of four birds can earn up to $1,250 per year.
Genetics also play an important variable in this equation as African hens are generally less productive than the American ones. But, African chickens have the advantage of having better resistance to heat and diseases. Thus the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is interbreeding these two types of livestock to create a progeny of super birds which will be extremely productive and also have better resistance to ailments.
Gates’ wife Melinda, co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said breeding chickens can also empower women by giving them a source of income, which they are more likely than men to spend on education and healthcare.