Bolivia shuns Bill Gates's chickens
White chickens on a farm (Shutterstock)

Bolivia's government turned up its nose Thursday at US billionaire Bill Gates's initiative to donate 100,000 chickens to people living in poverty worldwide, including Bolivians.

"I find it rude, because unfortunately some people, especially in the empire (the United States), still see us as beggars. We don't depend on chickens. We've advanced," said Rural Development Minister Cesar Cocarico.

"Our people have dignity and they know how to work," he told journalists.

Gates, the man ranked by Forbes magazine as the richest person in the world, announced plans last week to donate chickens to poor nations in an effort to fight extreme poverty.

The Microsoft co-founder says chickens are better than computers or the Internet for reducing poverty, because they are inexpensive, reproduce and supply food and revenue sources with both their eggs and meat.

The plan is a joint initiative between the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the charity Heifer International.

The chickens were supposed to go to two dozen developing countries, but Bolivia snubbed the offer.

Such programs "always see us as miserable Third World countries, and that point of view deserves a general protest by the people," said Cocarico.

Bolivia's economy has grown rapidly under the left-wing government of Evo Morales, who took office as the country's first indigenous president in 2006.

But the landlocked South American country remains one of the world's poorest, with nearly 40 percent of the population living in poverty.