According to the World Bank, some 11% of the global population lives under the extreme poverty line of US$1.90 a day. This reality is particularly palpable in emerging regions such as Latin America, South Asia, and Africa. Furthermore, these harsh living conditions manifest themselves especially in terms of undernourishment and access to food. This is why international development agencies, private enterprises, and NGOs worldwide are focused on enhancing access to food and maximizing agricultural output throughout developing regions. One such organization is the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has supported agricultural gene editing research throughout the last decade. During this time, scientific researchers at the University of Oxford developed enhanced varieties of rice, such as C4 rice, with support from the Gates Foundation. C4 rice is a genetically edited rice variety that needs less water than average rice crops and is 20% more efficient during the photosynthesis process. Similarly, C4 rice yields more food per hectare, which particularly benefits small and medium producers in at-risk areas by enhancing food security.
In this regard, it is important to mention that the gene editing process supported by the Gates Foundation is not the same as conventional genetic modification (GMOs) because it does not involve combining DNA from different organisms. Rather, gene editing either removes elements from the organism’s existing DNA strand or enhances already present genetic elements. Nevertheless, just like genetic modification (GMOs), genetic editing needs to be conducted with the highest ethical and normative standards in compliance with regulations from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the National Academy of Sciences, amongst other key stakeholders.
Another project that the Gates Foundation is engaged in involves scientific researchers at the University of Edinburgh, who are seeking to genetically enhance the milk output of cows predominantly found in tropical climates, namely Africa and South Asia. Likewise, the Gates Foundation is also engaged in research against major diseases, such as malaria and dengue, which cause great harm to tropical and developing regions.
Scientific Agriculture and Sustainable Development
Given the scenario presented above, through Farmfolio’s initiatives in Panama and Colombia, our CEO Dax Cooke wants international investors to capitalize on sustainable agriculture as a unique natural resource by way of a new and innovative asset class. Mostly focused on organic crops and sustainable agricultural operations, Farmfolio’s Farmshare offerings contribute socially and economically to the Latin American communities where they are settled by empowering them to grow and upscale their entrepreneurial vision, while yielding high returns for our clients and investors. In this sense, Farmfolio’s investment model is unprecedented when it comes to foreign investment because it provides for innovative, sustainable, and responsible economic development in emerging markets.