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5.0 out of 5 stars Case study of how to empower African farmers, May 29, 2012
This review is from: The Last Hunger Season: A Year in an African Farm Community on the Brink of Change (Hardcover)
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.
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