Steps Up

Suleymane Soro always grew cotton on his 17-acre farm in Ivory Coast, supporting his wife and six children in a mud home he built himself, with no running water or electricity. And in the fall of 2007, no cotton.

“We are completely discouraged,” Soro said at the time, smoking a cigarette as he sat in the shadow of a tree, his three youngest children and those of a neighbor plowing a field with two oxen. The village leader—considered such as one of the few French speakers in the area—couldn't buy seeds and fertilizer after the local ginning company failed. From 2000 to 2006 his annual profit fell two-thirds, to 120,000 CFA francs, about $250. He turned to corn to feed his family, but the lack of cotton income deprived him of ...

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