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Opportunity LiveBlog: Roger Thurow’s Global Food for Thought

By Sonja Egeland Kelly

Roger Thurow’s job is to “outrage and inspire.” His recent book, co-authored with Scott Kilman, Enough: Why the World’s Poorest Starve in an Age of Plenty, certainly does just that.

He previously spoke at our Fall 2009 Conference, and Opportunity is delighted to host him again at our Spring 2010 Conference. The Opportunity audience sat enraptured as we listened to his story today.

Thurow’s three decades at The Wall Street Journal lead him to Europe and Africa. While in Africa, he wrote a series of stories on famine in Africa that was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in International Reporting. Along with Scott Kilman, Roger Thurow reported on humanitarian and development issues.

They received much recognition for their book: they were honored by the United Nations and were awarded the Action Against Hunger’s Humanitarian Award. Thurow now serves as a Senior Fellow on Global Agriculture and Food Policy at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. It is no wonder that he was one of the conference’s most-anticipated speakers.

In keeping with the conference theme, he self-identifies as a journalist, and a gatherer of stories.

“The best way to reduce poverty in the very poorest of nations is by focusing on the small farmers, and creating the conditions for the small farmers to be as productive as possible.” he begins. “They will then have enough food to feed themseleves, feed their families, feed their nations, and maybe even have a surplus.”

When he first went to Africa, and saw the massive famine that Etheopia was experiencing, he testifies that ”what I saw became a disease in my soul.” This disease would not allow him to rest until he shared the story with the rest of the world. That story became the bestselling bookEnough.

“Opportunity International is so crucial,” he says. ”It’s all about the power of the individual. Ending hunger can indeed be the singular greatest achievement in our generation.” He wrote about Opportunity’s work in Malawi in the book, sharing the story of Africa Board Chair Francis Pelekamoyo’s leadership in delivering innovative solutions to Africa’s poorest entrepreneurs.

“Hooray for the efforts of Opportunity International and crop insurance,” he emphasizes. We will hear more about the Agriculture Finance program later on in the program.

To keep up with Roger Thurow, check out his blog. You can also learn more about how hunger can be conquered in his recent article in Christianity Today, available here.

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