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Bolivia pecks holes in Bill Gates' offer to donate thousands of chickens

The philanthropic billionaire wants to give 100,000 hens to countries that need them -- but Bolivia's rural development minister wants no part of it.

Who knew he had so many chickens?


Earlier this month, Bill Gates said that if he lived on $2 per day, as more than 1 billion people do, he would raise chickens. Breeding and selling them is inexpensive and profitable, he said, adding that their eggs can battle malnutrition.

In this spirit, the philanthropic billionaire said he would partner with Heifer International to give away 100,000 hens to nations that needed them. Though Bolivia wasn't mentioned by Gates, the country's minister of land and rural development, César Cocarico, took exception to the sentiment.

"He does not know Bolivia's reality to think we are living 500 years ago, in the middle of the jungle not knowing how to produce," Cocarico said, according to The Financial Times. "It think [the offer is] rude coming from a magnate that does not know Bolivia's reality."

Through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, founded in 2000, the billionaire co-founder of Microsoft has sought to do good works in a range of areas including education and public health, and the Gates duo are routinely listed among the most philanthropic Americans. Other tech moguls who have pledged significant portions of their wealth to charitable efforts include Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

But those efforts do sometimes spark controversy. The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, for instance, drew criticism when it launched late last year for an unconventional structure that would subject it to less oversight than traditional charities.

Bolivia's poultry industry has been growing in recent years, enjoying a 35 percent increase in produce (eggs and the chickens themselves) between 2008 and 2014, according to the Bolivian Institute of Foreign Trade.