Bolivia to Bill Gates: Keep Your Stupid Chickens

Country offended by donation offer, says it's doing just fine on poultry front
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 16, 2016 7:54 AM CDT
Bolivia to Bill Gates: Keep Your Stupid Chickens
A street vendor fries chicken outside a stadium in Cochabamba, Bolivia, on Oct. 17, 2009.   (AP Photo/Dado Galdieri)

Bill Gates recently offered to donate 100,000 hens to poor countries around the world, but one South American nation looked his gift chickens in the mouth and began squawking. "How can he think we are living 500 years ago, in the middle of the jungle not knowing how to produce?" Cesar Cocarico, Bolivia's development minister, told reporters, per Reuters. "Respectfully, he should stop talking about Bolivia." Cocarico also described Gates' poultry philanthropy—mainly extended to impoverished nations in sub-Saharan Africa—as "offensive," saying Gates should "apologize" once he's done a little more research into how well Bolivia does on the chicken front by itself, the Financial Times reports, via the Verge. He has a point: The country produces about 197 million chickens annually, with the ability to ship about 36 million of them to other nations, a local poultry group says. And data from the Bolivian Institute of Foreign Trade notes the country saw a significant increase in the production of chicken meat and eggs from 2008 to 2013.

Gates announced his "Coop Dreams" program earlier this month, noting he'd met, through his work with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, plenty of poor people who raised the birds and that "it's pretty clear to me that just about anyone who's living in extreme poverty is better off if they have chickens." He goes on to say that chickens are a cheap investment with easy maintenance and decent ROI, the eggs they pop out help keep kids healthy, and they "empower women" (a belief his wife apparently shares). "It sounds funny, but I mean it when I say that I am excited about chickens," his post concludes. An enthusiasm obviously not shared (at least when it comes to his donation) by what Gizmodo labels Bolivia's "leftist, anti-imperialist government." Bolivians "do not need any gifted chicks in order to live—we have dignity," Cocarico sniffed. (But what about chickens with dinosaur legs?)

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