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The Last Hunger Season: A Year in an African Farm Community on the Brink of Change [Anglais] [Relié]

Roger Thurow

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16 internautes sur 16 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Case study of how to empower African farmers 29 mai 2012
Par John Coonrod - Publié sur
Chicago Council senior fellow and former Wall Street Journal writer Roger Thurow has published a new book that was on sale during the Council's pre-G8 event.

I strongly recommend it. Thurow follows the lives of farm families in Western Kenya throughout the year 2011 as they struggle to overcome hunger. Their productivity is being greatly enhanced through the "One Acre Fund" (<...>) - a social enterprise founded by Andrew Youn, an American son of Korean immigrant parents that now serves 50,000 families.

Youn has been called the "Paul Farmer of Agriculture" - an individual of unyielding persistence as he and his team overcome logistical barriers to deliver improved seeds and fertilizer (on credit), training and farm insurance to farmers throughout his area.

Those working in African development will recognize much of what One Acre Fund does in Kenya: awakening people to a new possibility, training local facilitators, providing skills in row-planting and microdose fertilizer. Many will also recognize that - as impoverished as the Kenyan villages are - farmers have a profound commitment to securing quality secondary education for their children as their highest aspiration.

Like Steinbeck, Thurow follows the experiences of four families as they live through the major phases of the cropping year: the land preparation, the planting, the "hunger season," the harvest, and the second planting. He also neatly folds in the historic events unfolding beyond the villages - the famine in Northern Kenya receiving foreign food aid even as Western Kenya has a bumper harvest it cannot sell, Tony Hall fasting to force Congress to not cut food security funding, and the G8 in Paris giving little priority to food security as the global recession deepens.

Thurow writes in a clear, journalistic, page-turning style. This is the kind of book you will want to give to your friends who have had no real exposure to the realities of life in rural Africa, and the heartbreaking choices families must constantly make between buying food or paying school fees or paying for malaria medications.
10 internautes sur 10 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Moving and informative on every page 21 mai 2012
Par BigRedPencil - Publié sur
Global hunger is a tough story to tell. It's complicated, depressing at times and lacks the sort of glitz and celebrity that editors and readers seem to prize these days. So it's great to see a journalist of Roger Thurow's caliber and skill step up to tell the important story of global hunger -- why it exists, how it can be solved and why we can never give up trying. The Last Hunger season chronicles the lives and work of small farmers in Kenya and the steps they take, with the help of an innovative American nonprofit, to grow more food, feed their families three meals a day year-round and make better lives for their children. A natural storyteller, Thurow infuses his book with memorable characters, strong drama and novelistic pacing. You will come away from reading this book with greater knowledge about hunger and solutions, as well as utter awe for the perseverance and resourceful of people who battle tremendous challenges in order to give their children the lives and opportunities that we hope for our own children.
6 internautes sur 6 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Teaching How to Farm in Kenya 5 octobre 2012
Par L. Wagner - Publié sur
Being from the farm, I found Roger Thurow's book, The Last Hunger Season, to be a challenge for every human being to help out their `neighbor' to eliminate hunger. In our world of plenty, no one should be going hungry or be starving to death. Yet as our world grows in population, there is a need to increase productivity worldwide.

Through the brain-child operation, One Acre Fund, administered by Andrew Youn, a social entrepreneur who was earning his MBA at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, Kenya's smallholder farmers were taught how to manage and grow bigger and better crops to sustain them through the hunger season. Though Andrew wasn't a farmer, he did know how to manage. In his mind, "The existence of hungry farmers is completely crazy. It's mind-boggling. A hunger season shouldn't exist." I totally agree. It's unbelievable, yet it was happening.

This book is the story of four smallholder farmers that Roger Thurow followed for a year, throughout all the different seasons of farming. It started out as a picture of malnourished children, backbreaking manual labor (mostly done by the women), meager provisions from the crops, the stress of financial concerns for schooling their children, and the mountainous hopelessness of going through the wanjala-a hunger season that could stretch from one month to nine, depending on the year.

With the help of One Acre Fund, they were hoping to overcome the oppressive poverty and hunger. As a former farm girl, it was a thrilling and educational read to see how all the monumental red tape and access to good seed was a constant concern and how One Acre Fund was willing to stay the course, working out problems and issues that arose. Others had tried, failed and left.

Thurow's book is a heart-wrenching book of failed procedures, disease ravaged areas, and starvation while surplus food was only miles away. But as the subtitle suggests, these smallholder farmers were on the brink of change. Hope abounded, but the setbacks cut deep at times. They learned by trial and error.

The challenges of the seed providers were astronomical. What would work in one area of Kenya didn't in another because of the weather patterns. I found this so intriguing and frustrating all at the same time. It takes many varieties of seeds to work in the multiple areas.

I truly enjoyed Thurow's organized reporting for the book. He lays out the different seasons as described by the Kenyans, helping you to comprehend the enormity of the situation. But you don't have to come from a farm to be concerned with the issues of hunger and poor farm management. Just imagine your own family going through starvation months, and you can empathize with these farmers and be willing to be involved in your own way.

I applaud the Obama administration in their efforts to help these Kenyan smallholder farmers, where Obama's father grew up. But President Obama's desire to go down in history for these achievements should not take precedence over the people of the United States, as this is the country he is President of. The same goes to China's willingness to provide great financial assistance to Kenya's farmers, but they ignore the Dalits in their own backyard. I also believe Kenya's government should be held more accountable to providing assistance to their people instead of holding on to their wealth and ignoring their own fellow countrymen, leaving them for other countries to help. They are issues that were overlooked in the book that I felt should have been addressed. I also felt the book was politically polarizing instead or working with both sides to come to an agreement. I find that the opposition for an agenda has many sides, which didn't seem to be addressed or considered.

Barring my concerns, this is an insightful, excellent read to understand the plight of starving farmers-to spur others to get involved and help their `neighbors.'

This book was provided by Diane Morrow of the B & B Media Group in exchange for my honest review. No monetary compensation was exchanged.
3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 eye opening tear jerker! 2 juillet 2012
Par Amazon Customer - Publié sur
In the book, The Last Hunger Season by Roger Thurow, we are taken on a journey through the lives of some farmers in Kenya, Africa.

Each one of these farmers were small scale farmers who could barely grow enough crops to survive each season, and many times went without food. In our modern daily lives in richer countries, we cannot fathom really having to decide whether to make a school tuition payment of approx USD of $237 or eating that month. These farmers needed help, and change.

Through One Acre Fund, they are able to get new seeds, fertilizer, and most of all, knowledge of planting, growing and harvesting. They are able to grow more crops, and grow more successfully, providing them the ability to better feed themselves and their families. There are still hurdles to climb over, such as being able to save maize to sell when the prices go up, and make some cash to cover school payments, or to buy an animal. Of course, with the rainy season, there are mosquitos and malaria and medicines will be needed. Having something to sell for money for medicines means the difference between life and death to these people.

This book is an eye opener to seeing beyond our own selfish desires and allowing us to feel others pain. Charting these lives from pure deathly poverty and the fight to survive will show you the heart and faith of the people of Kenya.
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 This Book Will Change Your World View 11 juin 2012
Par S. Collier - Publié sur
Format:Format Kindle
Roger Thurow's "The Last Hunger Season" is a book that will change your world view, and challenge your thinking and perceptions in terms of the factors that contribute to global poverty and world hunger.

Following up on his book "Enough: Why the World's Poor Starve in the Age of Plenty," "The Last Hunger Season" chronicles the stories of four African small-holder farmers, Leonida, Rasoa, Zipporah and Francis. Living in the Western world, it is almost impossible to fully-comprehend the challenges that these farmers face, if not for Thurow's book, which artfully weaves the personal stories of the four farmers as they struggle through a year of change, with anecdotes on changes in the international political climate that have local ramifications for the farmers.

As I read Thurow's book, while the stories of Leonida, Rasoa, Zipporah and Francis were difficult and heart-breaking at times, I felt compelled to keep reading and developed a deep sense of admiration for their strength and commitment to doing whatever it takes to ensure a better life for themselves and their families in the future, even if it means starvation in the near-term.

One of the things that I have come to admire so much about African women, in particular, is their commitment to educating their children. Here in the U.S., and living an an area known for its affluence and excellent public schools, I feel that we often take education for granted, as most people don't have to make such extreme sacrifices to educate there children. If we did have to make such sacrifices, would we value education more?

One other aspect of Thurow's book that helped to enlighten me and broaden my perspective was the reality of how quickly fortunes can change on an African farm.

For many years, small-holder farms have struggled in soil preparation, finding strong and viable seeds that will withstand weather and other factors, harvesting and preparing crops for market, getting the right price for their crops, and having enough crops left over after sale to feed their families through the dry season. These farmers face so many challenges - weather, disease, bugs that eat their crops, and even theft. And that is all crop-related. Family health issues such as malaria, and the high cost of schooling can cause them to sell their crops at a lower price, just to get the capital needed to pay off their debts. Many farmers will resort to selling livestock too, just to raise much-needed capital.

A small NGO, One Acre Fund, is currently working to provide these small-holder farmers with the seeds, tools and knowledge they need to successfully move from subsistence farming to income-generating farming. In the "Last Hunger Season" Thurow highlights the impact that One Acre Fund has had on the farms of Leonida, Rasoa, Zipporah and Francis. I found the success, albeit limited in some cases, is a step in the right direction, and look forward to learning more about One Acre Funds efforts and future successes.

I highly recommend "The Last Hunger Season" and I am confident that anyone who reads this book will come away enlightened and with a different world view of why hunger and poverty still remain so prevalent in some parts of the world.
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