For African farmers, the “hunger season” marks the time of year after they’ve run out of food from their previous harvest and before the next harvest begins. It can stretch from one month to as many as eight. And while the term “hungry farmer” should be an oxymoron, the cruel reality is that the poor smallholder farmers who produce the majority of food in Africa often don’t grow enough to feed their families year round.
Africa’s smallholder farmers, most of whom are women, toil in a time warp, living and working essentially as they did a century ago. Without access to improved seeds, fertilizer, or mechanized equipment; reliant on primitive storage facilities, roads, and markets; lacking capital, credit, or insurance; they harvest one-quarter the yields as do farmers in the West, and often up to half of that spoils before getting to market. Their odds for success are very slim; hunger and malnutrition are their greatest miseries.
But in January 2011 one group of farmers in western Kenya decides to take a leap of faith and adopt new farming methods that promise to banish the hunger season. They join the One Acre Fund, an organization that gives them timely access to seeds, soil nutrients, planting advice and financing for the first time. While drought spreads across Kenya and all of East Africa, these farmers aim to double, triple or quadruple their maize yields. If they succeed, it will be a life-changing development, giving them the ability to feed their families for the entire year and to perhaps even sell some surplus food to pay school fees for their children.
In THE LAST HUNGER SEASON, award-winning journalist and hunger activist Roger Thurow, co-author of the critically acclaimed book ENOUGH, chronicles a year in the life of these farmers in an intimate narrative—as they go through their initial training meetings, as they pray and wait for rain, as they plant and then suffer through the hunger season, and anticipate the forthcoming harvest. Will they succeed? Will this be their last hunger season?
You can read an excerpt of The Last Hunger Season here.
About The Author:
Roger Thurow is a senior fellow for global agriculture and food policy at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. He was for thirty years a reporter at The Wall Street Journal. His first book, Enough: Why the World's Poorest Still Starve in an Age of Plenty, written with Scott Kilman, won the Harry Chapin Why Hunger book award and was a finalist for both the Dayton Literary Peace Prize and the New York Public Library Helen Bernstein Book Award. He is a 2009 recipient of the Action Against Hunger Humanitarian Award. He lives in Chicago.
The Last Hunger Season was an emotional read that looks at the issues surrounding poverty and hunger in Africa. It was a wonderful look of farm families over a year's time. It was a great look at the challenge's faced by food producers in Africa. Through stories of four women farmer's, your eyes are opened to just how difficult things can be for farm families living in poverty, and what organizations like One Acre Fund are doing to help. A difficult read at times, that pulled at my heartstrings to be sure, it was also very encouraging to see how hard these women work to overcome their difficulties, and provide for their children, just as we do in the Western world. Its a read that will open your eyes and hearts to help end world poverty.
I highly recommend this book and give it a huge thumbs up.
BUY IT: You can purchase The Last Hunger Season at your favorite bookseller from Public Affairs Books.
***I received a complimentary copy of this book, courtesy of The B and B Media Group, for the purpose of review on this blog. All opinions expressed are my own, and I have not been compensated in any other manner***