Bill Gates to visit Odisha on February 28, know why

Bhubaneswar: Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates will be arriving in Bhubaneswar on February 28. During this trip to Odisha, he is likely to visit Krushi Bhawan, an architectural marvel and facility developed for Agriculture & Farmers’ Empowerment.

“During my trip I’ll get to see India’s DPI in action. I’ll visit an agricultural monitoring centre in the state of Odisha where government officials use DPI to give farmers real-time guidance. Thanks to Aadhaar, this centre is able to maintain a registry of 7.5 million farmers—even if they don’t own land—and their crops, so officials can keep track of who is growing what (and, therefore, what kind of farming advice they need). It has also developed a chatbot that makes it easy for farmers to get the latest information about their crops, using AI to tailor content to their particular needs and in their local language,” Gates wrote in his blog while expressing his admiration for India’s innovative spirit and its digital public infrastructure.

“This service’s pest-management programme now reaches more than 4 million farmers, and since it began in 2018, the volume of crops that participating farmers lose to pests every year has dropped by 90 per cent. Now others—including other states in India as well as Ethiopia, Sri Lanka, and the World Bank—are looking to learn from Odisha’s experience with this service as well as its biometric ID and digital payments systems,” he added.

Gates also mentioned about his upcoming visit to a low-income community in Odisha where a government programme is helping women get the skills to fulfil government construction contracts. “Since 2018, this programme has helped 22,000 groups of women deliver on more than 52,000 projects including building roads, drains, and toilets,” he wrote.

He added that this programme could be a model for other countries that are facing similar challenges. “The women who participate in it are partners in creating the projects: They get training in engineering, accounting, negotiating contracts, and other skills, and they’re involved in planning the project, making a budget, doing the construction, and doing maintenance on whatever they build. I’m looking forward to meeting a few women who are part of this program so I can hear about the challenges they face and the successes they’ve had,” he added.

In April 2017, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation had inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Odisha government to improve the lives of small farmers and also to promote inclusive agricultural transformation in presence of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.

The foundation has been working closely with Odisha in developing data-based decision systems for agriculture, fisheries, and animal resources sectors; diversification to high-value crops; strengthening FPOs and shaping inclusive markets; digital extension; predictive technology, and integrated farming.

On Monday, Gates also shared a video on his upcoming trip with the caption: “I’m in India this week to experience what I believe is its greatest gift: its ability to innovate.”

Remembering his 2018 trip to India, Gates last week also shared family photo in which he is standing in front of the Taj Mahal with his father on Instagram. “I’m thinking about my dad as I get ready to visit India later this month. We had a great time on this trip in 2008,” he wrote.

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