16 internautes sur 16 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
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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
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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
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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
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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
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The strength of this book is the rare access the author gets to the lives of the rural poor. Beyond just recounting the challenges of the farmers, the author is able to present a picture of the thoughts and worries they face each day. The farmers are humanized, rather than just treated as victims.
The weakness is that the book doesn't get much beyond the basics of the farmer's lives. One Acre Fund, an NGO the farmers work with, is presented as the answer to every prayer. Questions like, "why is the Kenyan government not paying for this intervention," "is One Acre Fund's NGO approach inhibiting private sector led efforts," and "can One Acre Fund really scale to a meaningful level?" are not addressed. Also, there are parallels drawn between the local farmers and struggles about the foreign aid budget in the US Congress, but the connection is barely drawn. Toward the end we learn that One Acre Fund receives some funding from the US government, but it's a few million dollars, which is relatively minor. How effective is the rest of the US government's one billion dollar "Feed the Future" budget.
Despite a superficial treatment of larger policy questions, the book is worth the read to get a better sense of the day-to-day concerns of some of the poorest people in the world.
One additional note, the title seems to be a bit wishful thinking at this point. It would be more accurate to put a question mark at the end of it.