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Photo courtesy of Gates Notes.

Why Bill Gates is so excited about ‘scuba rice’

Sep 01, 2015

The world's poorest farmers in rural areas of India and Africa will suffer the most from the changing climate, including extreme floods and droughts. That's why entrepreneurs and philanthropists like Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates are starting to focus on technologies that can help farmers in susceptible areas grow more food, using more resilient seeds, and on smaller plots of land.

On Tuesday Gates published a post on his site Gates Notes entitled: "Who Will Suffer the Most From Climate Change (Hint: Not You)." In the piece, Gates talks about the need for new types of seeds that can be grown in areas of flooding, drought, poor soil or salt contamination.

Bill Gates Image courtesy of Gates Notes

One type of rice seed that is starting to be used in Bihar, India can be submerged for up to two weeks. Normally, rice seeds drown soon after flooding, but so-called "Scuba Rice" has been tweaked to withstand inundations.

Bill Gates Photo courtesy of Gates Notes.

In addition to better seeds, Gates is also excited about satellite technology that can provide soil maps for rural farmers, enabling farmers to plant crops that are better suited to different soil types. Many of the new tools for these rural farmers are technologies that farmers in developed regions have been using for years. Gates writes: "It’s quite common to see these farmers double or triple their harvests and their incomes when they have access to the advances farmers in the rich world take for granted."

Beyond just identifying new tech solutions, it's a more difficult challenge to get these technologies into the hands of the farmers. Gates gives a shout out to a non-profit group called One Acre Fund, which works directly with farmers to increase crop yields in various new ways, including education.

To learn more about work done by the Gates Foundation, watch this Fortune video:

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