* Gates says global food system is outdated, inefficient
* Urges agencies to set a common goal for raising farm
* Says new technologies can help in fight against hunger
By Catherine Hornby
ROME, Feb 23 Billionaire philanthropist
Bill Gates told the United Nations' hunger-fighting agencies
they were inefficient and urged their leaders on Thursday to set
new targets, redirect resources and turn to technology to make
The Microsoft founder's $34 billion foundation, one of the
world's most generous, said the three Rome-based agencies should
set a goal for raising farm productivity and introduce a system
of scoring states publicly for their efforts to reduce poverty.
"The world's agriculture and food system is now outdated and
inefficient," Gates told a conference at the International Fund
for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
"Countries, food agencies, and donors aren't working
together in a focused and coordinated way to provide the help
small farmers need, when they need it."
The 66-year-old Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO),
which has previously faced criticism for weak governance and a
lack of transparency, needed to focus more on ensuring
individual country programmes lead to improvements, Gates said.
A scorecard system whereby states are rated in areas such as
seed development and farmer education could help, he said.
Gates said he expected the FAO's new leader Jose Graziano da
Silva, who took over in January, to take critics' views on board
and redirect resources, cut bureaucracy and reduce duplication.
Price volatility and the economic slowdown could increase
the number of people at risk of hunger in the world. The FAO in
2010 estimated up to 925 million people were at risk.
A global food price crisis in 2008 highlighted years of
chronic under-investment in agriculture in developing countries.
Gates urged the IFAD, the FAO and the World Food
Programme (WFP) to take advantage of new technology such as
genome science, which has made it easier to breed plants.
He also said data collection by satellite was a good way to
free up people for other critical work.
"If we do connect breakthrough science to the people who
need it most, they will leapfrog generations of innovation they
missed," he said.
Gates' foundation, which is devoted largely to funding
health projects in developing countries, launched its
agriculture programme in 2006.
On Thursday, he announced an additional $200 million worth
of grants, bringing the foundation's total commitment to
smallholder farmers to more than $2 billion.
(Editing by Sophie Hares)