Sia Kambou/Stringer

Cara untuk Membantu Daerah yang Dilanda Kekeringan di Afrika

SEATTLE – Bayangkan sebuah lahan pertanian kecil di wilayah yang sangat panas. Kekeringan melanda daerah sekitar lahan tersebut, prospek panen terlihat suram, dan sistem finansial tidak dapat memberikan pinjaman yang dibutuhkan petani untuk bertahan hidup. Hal ini menggambarkan keadaan di bagian selatan Afrika saat ini, yang sedang dilanda kekeringan yang sangat parah. Hal ini juga menggambarkan keadaan di bagian timur Nebraska pada masa kekeringan yang terjadi di awal tahun 1930an – sebuah masa yang dialami oleh keluarga Saya. 

Ayah Saya, Ralph Raikes, adalah orang pertama dikeluarganya yang lulus kuliah. Setelah bekerja di Standard Oil di Kalifornia, beliau mampir ke lahan pertanian milik orang tuanya sebelum pergi ke Cambridge, Massachusetts, dimana beliau akan mengambil program pasca sarjana di MIT. Namun beliau tidak jadi mengambil program tersebut. Hal ini karena beliau harus tinggal di Nebraska untuk membantu kakek Saya menyelamatkan lahan pertaniannya agar tidak disita seluruhnya oleh bank, yang pada saat itu sudah menyita sepertiga lahan kakek Saya.

Hal terpenting yang ayah Saya lakukan adalah mengubah pola pikirnya; beliau melihat lahan pertanian tersebut bukan hanya sekedar cara untuk bertahan hidup, namun sebagai bisnis keluarga. Beliau pergi ke Universitas Nebraska, tempat dimana Beliau mendapatkan gelar sarjana, dan membeli bibit jagung hibrida dan juga bibit-bibit lain yang telah dimuliakan oleh universitas tersebut. Lalu Beliau mancatat bibit dan kondisi cuaca, yang pada saat itu masih jarang dilakukan.

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