Turkish ministry refutes claims of Bill Gates buying farmlands in Thrace region

The Turkish Agriculture and Forestry Ministry has said that it has not been carrying out any joint work with Bill Gates’ charitable foundation, dismissing the claims that the U.S. billionaire acquired agricultural lands in Turkey's Thrace region.

Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, speaks during a meeting in Washington in this file photo.

Duvar English

The Turkish Agriculture and Forestry Ministry has refuted the claims that Microsoft founder and billionaire Bill Gates has bought agricultural lands in the Thrace region, online news portal T24 reported on April 24.

The claims emerged after Turkish media outlets suggested that the Turkish Agriculture and Forestry Ministry has been carrying out a joint work with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on agricultural development.

Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) MP Oktay Gaytancıoğlu took the issue to the agenda of parliament, filing a parliamentary question. Gaytancıoğlu asked the Agriculture and Forestry Ministry if an agreement had been struck with the Gates’ charitable foundation. 

In its response, the ministry said that representatives of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation had paid a visit to them on Dec. 9, 2018 and that the two sides exchanged ideas on areas of possible of cooperation.

“[But] No protocol or agreement has been signed. There is no cooperation agreement that was struck with the foundation. There is no joint work that is being held with the foundation mentioned in the parliamentary motion,” the ministry said.

Gates is the largest private owner of agricultural land in the United States, according to a recent report by the U.S. landowner magazine The Land Report. The world's fourth-richest man currently owns 242,000 acres of farmland across eighteen states.

Although it is unclear why Gates has invested so heavily in U.S. farmland, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation focuses on agricultural development in poorer countries.