TEXCOCO Feb 13 Carlos Slim and Bill Gates, the
two richest men on the planet, inaugurated a new agricultural
research center outside Mexico's capital, touting the millions
they have donated to bolster global food security.
The two tycoons participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony
for new laboratories at the headquarters of the International
Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, known by its Spanish acronym
The new complex will double the center's capacity to
develop better seeds and more productive farmers in the
developing world, officials said.
"These laboratories will help attract the best talent in the
world to come and work here," said Gates, founder of Microsoft
and co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Slim's charitable foundation donated $25 million to build
the new complex, while the Gates foundation has given more than
$90 million for ongoing CIMMYT projects, including an $18
million grant also announced Wednesday to help boost small-farm
yields in South Asia.
"We have climate change but we also have significant
volatility in raw materials, and that makes improved efficiency
and farm productivity indispensable," said Slim, who controls a
business empire that includes Latin America's biggest
telecommunications company, America Movil.
Mexico's agriculture minister, Enrique Martinez, told the
assembled dignitaries that new advances in seeds developed by
CIMMYT will help Mexico lessen its reliance on imported grains,
Mexico currently imports about a third of the corn it needs
More than two years ago, Mexico's government began pumping
resources into CIMMYT's sustainable agriculture program known as
MasAgro - $49 million since 2011, and another $138 million
pledged over the next decade, according to data from the
The government says MasAgro, which has won plaudits from the
G-20, boosts farmer profits by a third and yields by half.
Slim and Gates are worth a combined $130 billion according
to the ranking maintained by Forbes magazine.