Sia Kambou/Stringer

Jak pomoci africké „prachové pánvi“

SEATTLE – Představte si malou farmu pod rozpálenou oblohou. Okolní region sužuje kruté sucho, vyhlídky na příští sklizeň jsou neveselé a finanční systém postrádá kapacitu poskytnout úvěry farmářům, kteří je potřebují, aby se nějak protloukli. Takto by se dal popsat dnešní jih Afriky, který sužují nevídaná sucha. Ale shodou okolností by se dala týmiž slovy popsat takzvaná „prachová pánev“ v severní Nebrasce na počátku 30. let, kdy tam žila moje rodina.

Můj otec Ralph Raikes byl prvním členem rodiny, který vystudoval vysokou školu. Nějakou dobu pracoval v Kalifornii pro firmu Standard Oil a pak se jednou cestou do Cambridge ve státě Massachusetts, kde chtěl absolvovat doktorandské studium na MIT, zastavil na farmě svých rodičů. Do Cambridge už se nikdy nedostal. Musel zůstat v Nebrasce a pomoci dědečkovi zachránit rodinnou farmu před bankami, které už uplatnily zástavní právo na třetinu pozemků.

Nejdůležitější změnou, kterou otec učinil, byla změna myšlení: začal o farmě přemýšlet nikoliv jako o zdroji obživy, nýbrž jako o rodinném byznysu. Kontaktoval Nebraskou univerzitu, kde před lety studoval, a získal od ní kříženou odrůdu kukuřice a další vylepšená semena, která na univerzitě vyvíjeli. A pak začal sledovat vstupy a meteorologické podmínky, což se v té době dělalo málokdy.

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