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Contamination

My hotel room in Nairobi is a decontamination site right now.

I have come to Africa to cover a virulent new form of the ancient wheat crop scourge called stem rust. It surfaced a few years ago in Kenya and Uganda, spread into Ethiopia, jumped the Red Sea to Yemen, showed up this year in Iran and now threatens the security of the world's second largest crop.

Scientists worldwide are combing wheat varieties for resistance with limited results. Meanwhile, a major worry is that travelers will transport the deadly rust spores outside Kenya which is the hotspot for the disease.

Maasai

Edward Kosen's offer to slaughter a sheep in honor of my visit was a great breakthrough.

All along the road (if you can call that rutted, washboard trail a road) leading to Kosen's farm in western Kenya's highlands, people from Kosen's Maasai tribe had run from my camera. Hapana . . . hapana . . . hapana (no . . . no . . . no) they said in Swahili when I begged for photos.

Violence in Kenya

On top of his losses to wheat stem rust, George Mukindia watched 30 acres of his wheat burn in the flames of Kenya's recent post-election violence.

Mukindia's fields are near Eldoret, where 30 unarmed civilians were slaughtered in a church on New Year's Day.

Kashmir Activists Don't See Guns as the Answer

When pro-independence demonstrations erupted in Kashmir over the summer, Danish Shervani said he hesitated to take part until he saw women and children shouting in the streets.

His initiation was painful. A band of riot police trapped him away from the crowds and beat him with bamboo shafts, breaking several bones and shattering a kneecap.

After the Fast

After a long, hot summer of protests against Indian rule, an uneasy calm descended on the Kashmir valley for the holy month of Ramadan. In a bid to reignite mass protests, separatist leaders had called for another pro-independence march this week on Lal Chowk, the commercial hub of the summer capital. The authorities responded with a two-day, shoot-on-sight curfew. Protests were abandoned. After a crackdown over the past few months that has left at least 45 people dead, mostly killed when troops opened fire on crowds, this was understandable.

A Ramadan Controversy

Iason Athanasiadis, for the Pulitzer Center
Istanbul, Turkey

Millions of Muslim break their fast today (Tuesday 29 September) for one last time as the holy month of Ramadan comes to an end and a new moon appears in the skies. But in Turkey, where Ramadan is pronounced Ramazan, this year was not so much a time of reflection, self-denial and prayer as an extension of the political battlefield between secularists and the faithful over public and private behaviour during the holy month.

From Uganda

At open-air farm markets, Mawe Robbins and James Ockira were the only vendors I could find selling whole kernels of wheat.

The markets offered a plentiful display of bounty from Uganda's rich and fertile soil. There were beautiful mounds of bananas, passion fruit, tomatoes, beans and other produce. But, unlike so many other parts of the world, wheat is not a major crop here.

War in the Heart of India

"Ram, Ram, oh Ram," Chandan whispered to himself, moments after asking me to pray to my own God. He and Arvind, the other local journalist who accompanied me into the bush, held their heads down and closed their eyes, not wanting to accept the random turn of events, the prospect of a grim and pointless death.

Growing Controversy

The big city of La Paz may be a draw for younger people in Sabina Ramirez and her husband Roberto's village. But not for her. "I was born into a coca-growing family," Sabina says, "and we're going to keep it that way." The Ramirezes live in a humble two-bedroom cinder block house in the village of Irupana, in the forest region of Los Yungas. Of Aymara Indian stock, Roberto's eyes are constantly smiling. Sabina wears the traditional braid across her back, like most indigenous women from the area. Both show signs in their skin of a lifetime working under the strong Andean sun.

Bolivia's Coca Culture featured on Foreign Exchange

The coca plant, used in indigenous cultural rituals and traditional medicines, is also the main ingredient for cocaine. Bolivia is the third largest producer of coca and cocaine after Peru and Colombia. Despite pressure to cut back on coca farming, many Bolivians see few alternatives.

Aired on Foreign Exchange with Daljit Dhaliwal the week of September 19, 2008.

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