Bill Gates engages with Pakistan’s climate adaptation startups to drive agritech and health innovations

Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft and co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, met with Pakistani climate adaptation startups to discuss and implement agritech and health innovations in the country.

He visited Pakistan to discuss several important issues, including polio eradication, financial inclusion, and climate adaptation. During his visit, Gates met with Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Deputy Prime Minister Ishaq Dar, federal cabinet ministers, provincial ministers of health, chief secretaries, and Chief of Army Staff General Asim Munir.

The discussions revolved around improving the lives of women and girls and advancing shared goals in health, nutrition, climate adaptation, technology, and financial inclusion.
One of the key highlights of Gates’ visit was a series of roundtable discussions with startups and stakeholders from the government and various experts.

Climate adaptation session

A session on climate adaptation was held on June 24 at the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Pakistan, hosted by NDMA Chairman Lieutenant General Inam Haider Malik and Mosharraf Zaidi from Tabadlab. Gates Foundation global presidents Chris Elias and Anita Zaidi also joined the session with Bill Gates.

Pakistan PM’s climate aide Romina Khurshid Alam and Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Pakistan PM’s climate aide Romina Khurshid Alam and Pakistani startup leaders attend the session on climate adaptation with Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation during a meeting at NDMA Headquarters in Islamabad on June 24, 2024. (Image Credit: Climate Change Ministry)

Pakistani agritech and health startup leaders who attended the session and shared insights on their efforts to address climate change and improve health outcomes include:

  • Dr Sara Saeed Khurram, CEO of Sehat Kahani
  • Maheen Rahman, CEO of InfraZamin
  • Dr Faisal Khan, Principal investigator at Precision Medicine Lab
  • Muhammed Bukhari, co-founder of Farmdar

Here are some key insights from the discussions:

Climate change’s impact on agriculture and role of innovations

Muhammed Bukhari, co-founder of agritech company Farmdar, shared details of his meeting with Bill Gates in a social media post, saying Gates discussed climate change’s impact on agriculture and the role of innovations like seeds and technology can assist in climate adaptation.

Bukhari highlighted Farmdar’s use of AI and satellite tech to aid farmers in adapting to climate change and increasing productivity. Farmdar has trained AI to interpret satellite and climate data, providing detailed analytics on crops and making predictive insights that help farmers and agribusinesses adapt to climate challenges, he explained. Their satellite-based products enable regular crop monitoring and timely interventions, preventing potential problems before they escalate. Additionally, Farmdar’s satellite-based credit models empower financial institutions to extend credit to farmers, especially smallholders.

Reflecting on the event, Bukhari remarked: “One of the most profound takeaways was Bill’s unwavering commitment to addressing the intersection of agriculture and climate adaptation. It is clear that climate change will have a significant impact on agriculture, particularly in countries like Pakistan, and the poor will bear the brunt of it. Bill emphasized the crucial role of innovations such as seeds, AI, and digital technologies in climate adaptation.”

Bukhari also stressed the importance of strong leadership and international collaboration, saying that it is essential that our public sector leaders understand and promote the narrative around Pakistan, showcasing our potential and contributions to the world.

Experts advocate for affordable tech solutions for Pakistan

Another key participant was Dr. Faisal Khan, Director of Precision Medicine Lab, a collaborative laboratory where data analysts and deep learning experts work closely with biologists, geneticists, and clinicians. Together, they use genome-scale datasets, hospital data, and machine learning to enhance outcomes for cancer patients.

Dr Faisal Khan said that while discussing the role of engineering biology in combating climate change, Bill Gates expressed his enthusiasm for advanced technologies such as DNA sequencing, 3D bioprinting, and seed development, which are becoming increasingly affordable and accessible. However, Dr. Khan pointed out a critical gap: the shortage of high-quality, investable projects in this domain and the urgent need to enhance public understanding of climate change, particularly at the intersection of health and agriculture.

“We are thrilled to learn first-hand about the shared ambition to address public health, agriculture, and climate challenges in Pakistan,” said Dr. Khan.

He mentioned that during discussions with Pakistani tech entrepreneurs, Bill Gates expressed his enthusiasm for advancing technologies such as DNA sequencing, 3D bioprinting, and seed development, which are becoming more affordable and accessible. These are areas where young innovators in Pakistan have a significant opportunity to unleash their potential, Khan recommended.

Focus on Healthtech innovations

Dr. Sara Saeed Khurram, CEO of health-tech startup Sehat Kahani, shared her positive interaction with Gates, noting his deep engagement and support for innovative healthcare solutions.

“I am immensely proud to have shared the journey of Sehat Kahani’ at this roundtable,” Khurram expressed. “Our clinics, applications, and the tireless efforts of our female doctors have made significant impacts on community health.” She discussed how their technology facilitated delivering quality healthcare to remote areas, streamlined patient care in corporate sectors, and integrated AI for predictive health analytics.

Gates passionately advocated for health and its profound connection to climate change, underscoring how technological advances could democratize healthcare access. Khurram found his insights on leveraging simple AI solutions to amplify impact deeply inspiring.

Sana Jamal
Storyteller. Avid Reader. Learner to the core.

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