back to article Bill Gates cooks up poultry recipe for Africans' paltry existence

Not satisfied with trying to stamp out malaria, recycling poo water into something people can drink and subjecting world + dog to software over the years, now Bill Gates wants to solve hunger in sub-Saharan Africa. “Help me give away 100,000 chickens,” Gates said on Twitter, “If I were living in extreme poverty, I’d want to …


  1. Tom 7 Silver badge

    And they would have to sell the chickens to buy the food to feed them.

    They dont live on fresh air!

    1. MyffyW Silver badge

      Re: And they would have to sell the chickens to buy the food to feed them.

      I think the idea is the chickens feed on the abundant grain that has trickled down from the gold-braided imbecile who probably runs the country.

      Rumours that KFC will move in if the chickens multiply too quickly are unsubstantiated.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Chickens eat bugs

        They don't need feed unless you are trying to fatten them up quickly, or flood with hormones so they can lay eggs constantly to feed western demand.

        1. Triggerfish

          Re: Chickens eat bugs

          Erm yes I agree with the above poster. I have lived in plenty of places they do not feed the chickens=. Chickens are like garbage cans they will eat anything they can, including mice and frogs.once place I used to live they basically just spent all day routing around, minus the odd amorous raid from wild bantams they didn't do to bad, when the evening came they used to all go to a tree and work their way up to roost in the branches. They were pretty tough birds all in all.

          The usueful thing for poor people keeping them is the eggs, handy source of protein, I suspect one of the reasons there's a lot of asian dishes that use eggs is because of this, you'll almost always get a rice dish with a fried egg on top.

          1. BitterExScientist

            Re: Chickens eat bugs

            A real proper chicken (not a Western factory one) will also destroy a large vegetable garden given about 10 minutes and well before you can chase it out. Quite comical to watch as long as it's not your garden. Also after eating one you realize that most things don't actually taste like chicken.

    2. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

      Re: And they would have to sell the chickens to buy the food to feed them.

      This also reminds me of one of the contributory factors in the great potato famines in Ireland. Smallholders lived off a subsistence diet of spuds while cash crops like grain were by and large exported.

      Granted, in this case, the cash crop (chickens) are owned by the small farmers themselves rather than the landlords, but if your subsistence farming isn't going so well, those chickens are going to start looking mighty tasty. I won't be so churlish to point out the supply/demand side of things if suddenly everyone is selling chickens... (ok, I mentioned it)

      It's a noble gesture at least, but I think you need to need to tackle both aspects (getting better/more reliable yields from subsistence farming and cash crops) at once.

      Plus, how much research has gone into the particular breed of chicken being given out? I would hope that there's a pretty diverse selection (good, wide genetic pool) with particularly hardy breeds suited to the local conditions.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And they would have to sell the chickens to buy the food to feed them.

      Chickens manage to find food in the most unlikely places, which is why they are so popular amongst the poor

  2. flszen

    $5 per chicken?

    Surely that price will remain constant with the proposed supply glut.

    1. PleebSmasher

      Re: $5 per chicken?

      Let them eat eggs.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: $5 per chicken?

      $5 sounds a bit expensive to me for that economy. Go into any UK supermarket and you can buy a chilled or frozen ready to cook bird for less than that.

      Yeah, I know, factory farming etc, but still....

    3. Schlimnitz

      Re: $5 per chicken?

      Paging Tim Worstall and his cluebat...

  3. Chris G Silver badge

    Thinking it through

    I have kept a few chickens in a previous life, they are subject to a fair number of diseases that will kill them in 24-48 hours and will spread like wildfire through a flock and everything with teeth and an appetite wants to catch and eat them, especially the chicks, rats will take a chick if they can, the chicks are so stupid they can drown themselves if the water you give them is more than 1/8" deep, so they are not that easy to keep.

    But the cruncher is $5 a throw! Where in poverty stricken Sub-Saharan Africa are the people who are willing to pay five bucks for a chicken that killed and dressed in a supermarket costs about €3?

    I know he's thinking about the buyer getting a layer to provide eggs for 1-3 years before it declines as an egg producer but a quick Google tells me that the average income in Eastern and Southern Africa is UP to $400 a year! $5 That's the equivalent of a 30 grand a yearworker coughing up $375 as a proportional part of their wage.

    If he is going to give away chickens, set up an education service and possibly finance someone like

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Thinking it through

      Factory farmed chickens cost $3 in an Aldi in Europe or America with a transport infrasturcture - they are a lot more expensive in Africa.

      The big advantage of chickens is that it is harder for European/American farmers to dump capacity in Africa and depress prices. It's not much fun trying to scrape a bit of wheat from your back garden African strip of dirt and have a bulker arrive with 100,000T of subsidised Kansas/Canadian wheat.

      1. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: Thinking it through

        Bill could have a read of this;

        1. raving angry loony

          Re: Thinking it through

          How could he read it? It's not in a proprietary Microsoft format.

      2. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: Thinking it through

        Its not hard to dump overproduction - it costs 30p to ship a phone from China to the UK. I cant imagine it costs much more to get a load of frozen chickens over to Africa.

        And it might be hard to scrape a bit of wheat from your back garden but you are going to have to scrape 3.5 times more to get an egg and 7 times more to get a bit of meat than you are just eating the grain.

      3. dew3

        Re: Thinking it through

        "Its not hard to dump overproduction - it costs 30p to ship a phone from China to the UK. I cant imagine it costs much more to get a load of frozen chickens over to Africa."

        It is hard to think of an appropriate response without disparaging your imagination. A frozen chicken will take up 4-8x the space of a phone in a box. That means it will start by costing several times more - volume is everything in distance shipping of dry goods. But even more important (and also apparently missed) - a frozen chicken is frozen. You cannot use a cheap, standard shipping container; a freezer container costs 3-4x more than one used for cell phones (factor that capital cost into the price), and because it is expensive you will want it back or will have to sell it at a loss at the endpoint (more cost), although you will might try to ship something the other way if you can (what frozen exports are there from Africa?). A freezer container will have less internal space - insulation and compressors take valuable cargo space, so yet higher cost/unit shipped. And you need power almost the whole way - you cannot just stack that container with the cell phone containers on the ship, and you cannot leave it for a day sitting unplugged in a stack on the dock - so shipper will add on a big premium to keep it powered.

        So with just a little imagination I can easily believe £2+ per chicken for shipping.

        1. d3vy Silver badge

          Re: Thinking it through

          Now, now, to be fair the didn't say the chicken should still be frozen or edible when it arrives, simply that you ship a frozen chicken.

        2. Stork Bronze badge

          Re: Thinking it through

          Yep, reefers are a different ballgame.

          BTW, I have a past in container shipping IT, and one of the few rules the system did not support was "do not send aluminium containers to (West) Africa". The problem was to get them back, not only were they too easy to open unauthorised, but the scrap value is too high. I can just imagine the goodies in a reefer.

        3. silver darling

          Re: Thinking it through

          no, there's mass import of brasil and euro chicken in WA, legally and illegally. In WA urbania western chicken is cheaper than quality local meat.

      4. silver darling

        Re: Thinking it through

        "harder for European/American farmers to dump capacity in Africa and depress prices" not really. both europe and brasil dump second rate factory chicken onto west african markets. WA countries that have tried to ban or tax imported chicken have had usual problems of contravening trade 'agreements' or smuggling via 3rd countries. in WA urbania it's usually cheaper than local chicken which being mostly organic tastes much better.

        chicken in WA is regarded as a luxury food and chicken consumption is increasing rapidly. one way for west africans to raise chickens is to buy days old chicks from market. these sell for a lot less than $5 (about $1 last time i asked) and supplying chicks is a burgeoning business for entreprenuers.. the chickens are usually eaten by the people that raise them and not sold. chicks are euro-yank strains grown from imported eggs,. and in WA are generally only good for dry season , ie half the year, raising. in the wet season they die pretty easy. solutions are to interbreed local african breeds (tougher) with faster growing euro-yank strains , there's good research going on in e.g. israel and cameroon to develop hardy fast growing breeds. there's also interesting research on using black soldier fly for feed.

        maybe mr m$ could help by investing in breed research or supplying loans to mid-range entrepenuers. Egg hatching machines cost from $3 (5 egg hatcher from china) to $2000 (lot of eggs, south african) and up. when i researched this for business i estimated a $2500 set up would give me an income of c. $150 a month in the dry season, not bad but there are less risky businesses opps.

        broiler bill seems a bit late to the table here, and , though it may be the article, not that clued up ..

    2. Triggerfish

      Re: Thinking it through @Chris G

      Is that all chicken breeds though? A lot of the ones I have seen being kept semi wild, where closer to the original Jungle fowl / Bantam type wild bird, they gave me the impression they were pretty tough, considering the jungles they originally lived in were populated by lots of predators.

      I've seen some fighting birds breed from the same lot and they were definetly a bit nails for a chicken. Quite tough meat though, comapred with what we get in the UK.

      1. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: Thinking it through @Chris G

        Asian Jungle Fowl are pretty tough, a bit stringy and they lay small eggs but would probably do the job.

        Still need to care for them though and all chickens do better with a coop at night and a regular nezt box so you can find the eggs they lay rather than lea e them for a snake to find.

    3. cyfahead

      Re: Thinking it through

      If Billy had actually spent some time living in a typical rural location where incomes are low and the work is hard and the people are many, he would have noticed that many of the people eyeing the chickens and deliberating on their culinary qualities are not necessarily their owners. Security costs a lot, and there are no police to investigate multiple cases of multiple henocide. Even chicken wire (netting) needs plenty cash, and it needs to be buried on on side to stop the rats and dogs... and the snakes... they come and eat your eggs and chicks. So the netting has to be the expensive sort with small holes. The edge in the ground rusts in a a short time and is impossible to mend... and anyway free-range chickens... even in a law abiding community with no rats, dogs or feral carnivores... will happily lay their eggs in any shady spot they can find... and you won't.

      He would have also noticed the dire shortage of cooking fuel... have you ever tried to take a 3 year old garbage heap tart and "cook until tender". It takes a lot of wood. Great recipe for soil erosion.

      Then there is the small matter of conversion efficiency. Humans can also eat the grains that go into the chickens, and many struggle to grow enough of that for their own consumption. But the conversion loss of food value after passing it through a chicken just compounds the problem.

      Of course if Bill is looking to empower a business class to dominate the cereals market by driving up prices which they can recoup by feeding it to chickens to sell to the developing professional and entrepreneurial classes, where they exist, then he is likely to solve the development problem quickly. The demographics will soon show a surge in the percentage of the population in work and with their own business... the population will also be smaller, the rest will likely have starved to death.

  4. theastrodragon

    Presumably if you leave the chicken plugged in overnight it gets automatically upgraded to a Windows 10 chicken?

    1. 404 Silver badge

      Use GWX Control Pecker or Clucking10 to prevent that from happening...

    2. MrDamage

      100000 chickens

      Randomly pecking at keyboards have a 50/50 chance of coming up with and OS that will be more stable and accepted than Win10

  5. Nevermind

    Hang on

    Where's the DevOps angle in this?

    1. NoneSuch

      Re: Hang on

      "Where's the DevOps angle in this?"

      It's as fantastical as 100% uptime, so...

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    as always

    The key to getting families out of poverty in the 3rd world is make sure the women with children are the direct recipient of aid (or their children get it while in school). The world would be such a better place if males came out of the womb aged 35 or so (though probably some confirmation bias in the West as the real dumb shit evil psychopath males are generally dead or in jail by 35). That said take one look at the vast majority of ISIS or Boko haram fighters and even supporters and the same tends to holds true.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: as always

      Sounds to me like someone needs to make better boyfriend choices

    2. MyffyW Silver badge

      Re: as always

      Not sure I'd base my boyfriend choices on age > 35 years.

      In his mid-thirties Hitler had only raised a ruckus in a beer hall whilst Stalin was still sharpening his knives and had yet to cross Trotsky off his Christmas-card list.


      It's true that giving aid to mothers often leads to it being spent on the children, but if the goods bought are a Dora the Explorer comic I personally think there's nothing wrong with keeping a little back for a cheeky bottle of Rioja.

  7. P0l0nium

    What they really need is ...

    More Guns!!! Without guns how will they defend their chickens from marauding neighbours and feral dogs??

    The real "need" in the 3rd World is "Rule of Law" and some leaders who can answer the question "Why are you in charge ?" without answering:

    a) Because I have a large private army.

    b) Because I know what's best for you.

    c) God put me here.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What they really need is ...

      Wonder what Trump's answer would be. Probably b and a if he doesn't get his way. Will agree with rule of law comment but that requires putting the nation state before your tribe and well the people fully capable of doing that have a title, developed country.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What they really need is ...

        Wonder what Trump's answer would be

        He could offer his hair as a nest, I guess. Come to think of it, from the way it looks he may already be doing that.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: What they really need is ...

          Silly of course that is a wig. Orangutangs are usually orange with a receding hairline.

          1. MrDamage

            Re: What they really need is ...

            Careful now. You wouldn't want the Librarian taking offence by suggesting he is related to Trump.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: What they really need is ...

              Careful now. You wouldn't want the Librarian taking offence by suggesting he is related to Trump.

              It's offensive to orangutangs as well...

            2. LesB

              Re: What they really need is ...


    2. John Bailey

      Re: What they really need is ...

      d) My wig told me to be.

  8. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    Teching self-help

    There's an old saying which I've forgotten, but I think it goes something like:

    "Give a man some fire and it will warm him for a day. Set a man on fire, and it will warm him for the rest of his life"

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Teching self-help

      Teach a man to fish and he will talk about nothing but fishing for hours, give a man a fish and at least they will shut up while they are eating it!

      1. Darryl

        Re: Teching self-help

        Give a man a fish and you'll feed him for a day, but give him a case of dynamite and soon the village will be showered with mud and seaweed and unidentifiable chunks of fish.

        1. swampdog

          Re: Teching self-help

          Teach a man to phish and he can raid BG's bank account.

          1. Chris G Silver badge

            Re: Teching self-help

            Teach a man to fish and you can sell him rods, gadgets, lures, silly hats, jackets and god knows what else for the rest of his life.

      2. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: Teching self-help

        Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will wear a silly hat.

        And wipe out whatever fish are nearby.

        1. hplasm Silver badge

          Re: Teching self-help

          Maxim 21. Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Take his fish away and tell him he's lucky just to be alive, and he'll figure out how to catch another one for you to take tomorrow.


          Thanks, Howard!

    2. Richard 126

      Re: Teching self-help

      “Give a man a fire and he's warm for a day, but set fire to him and he's warm for the rest of his life.”


      by Terry Pratchett

      1. The Nazz Silver badge

        Re: Teching self-help

        Prior art, non fiction too

        John Kongos - Tokoloshe Man (must be on you-tube, i'm too lazy* to look)

        * at the mo.


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