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It was reported last week that Bill Gates had launched the Coop Dreams campaign, an initiative that aims to donate 100,000 chickens to impoverished nations across the world. Gates' plan may have good intentions, but Bolivia, one of the countries reportedly set to receive the birds, has rejected the “offensive” donation.
The Microsoft co-founder said he would team up with Heifer International - a charity attempting to eradicate poverty and hunger through livestock donations and agricultural training - to distribute chickens to countries with high levels of poverty, mostly located across sub-Saharan Africa but including Bolivia.
César Cocarico, Bolivia’s minister of development, said the country found Gates’ offer insulting. “How can he think we are living 500 years ago, in the middle of the jungle not knowing how to produce?” he asked. “Respectfully, he should stop talking about Bolivia and once he knows more, apologize to us.”
According to the Bolivian Institute of Foreign Trade, the country saw a 35 percent increase in egg and chicken produce between 2008 and 2014. It now produces 197 million chickens annually, and has the capacity to export 36 million.
The country also takes offense at being seen as an underveloped nation in need of the birds. The International Monetary Fund predicts Bolivia’s GDP will increase 3.8 percent this year, and it continues to be the strongest economy in South America.
Cocarico said Gates 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." He added: "It think it’s rude coming from a magnate that does not know Bolivia’s reality."