Story

Disease Destroys Crops on Small Farms; Profits on Large Farms

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Wheat is an important food crop in Kenya. Image by Sharon Schmickle. Kenya, 2008.

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Many Kenyan farmers got half as many bags per acre this year. Image by Sharon Schmickle. Kenya, 2008.

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Some wheat that is harvested is of poor quality. Image by Sharon Schmickle. Kenya, 2008.

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Geoff Nightingale checked the weight of the wheat. Image by Sharon Schmickle. Kenya, 2008.

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Geoff Nightingale sprayed expensive pesticides to save his wheat this year. Image by Sharon Schmickle. Kenya, 2008.

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Like Joseph Atrono's family, many Kenyans are surviving by stretching supplies of beans. Image by Sharon Schmickle. Kenya, 2008.

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With the wheat crop failed, Joseph Bii counts on cabbage and corn to feed his family. Image by Sharon Schmickle. Kenya, 2008.

Disease Destroys Crops on Small Farms; Profits on Large Farms

Image by Sharon Schmickle. Kenya, 2008.

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With the wheat crop failed, Joseph Atrono is selling hens one by one. Image by Sharon Schmickle. Kenya, 2008.

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Joseph Atrono, with wife Sally Rono and son Alfred Kipkemboi, live near their fields. Image by Sharon Schmickle. Kenya, 2008.

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Joseph Atrono has nothing to harvest in his wheat field. Image by Sharon Schmickle. Kenya, 2008.

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Linus Kipngetich and Alfred Kipkemboi needed wheat to pay for school and clothes. Image by Sharon Schmickle. Kenya, 2008.

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Geoff Nightingale checked his wheat. Image by Sharon Schmickle. Kenya, 2008.

Kenyan farmers who can not afford pesticides watched wheat whither in the fields as a new strain of stem rust drained the plants of nutrients. Now families who counted on the wheat for a living are begging friends for loans and selling the last of their hens to buy beans, corn and other bare essentials. On larger farms, chemicals helped to control the disease which slowly is spreading beyond Kenya. Still, profits and yields dropped dramatically.