Dec 21, 2018 6:45 AM
Claire Baker (at The Holiday Inn)
The Toothpick Project

Claire Sands-Baker is the co-founder and director of The Toothpick Project. 

About ten years ago, Dr. John Sands, a retired surgeon from the Navy, traveled to Kenya to volunteer in a hospital. He realized that the issues smallholder farmers were facing were far greater than a surgical visit to the hospital. He tracked back to the root of many problems:  Striga, a parasitic weed also called kyungo or witchweed, was prevalent and devastating.  If a smallholder farmer's maize crop is infested with striga, not only does the farmer spend more hours weeding, she also potentially looses up to 85% of her crop yield. 


This Toothpick Project started with the end-user in mind. Through the biocontrol of Striga with the FOXY T14 toothpick technology, our goals are to reduce labor and increase crop yield for smallholder farmers. Ultimately, this technology will: improve health through more nutritious, diversified crops (impacting both physical and mental wellbeing); increase income by providing enough yield for both family use and sale; and provide greater access to education due to this increased income. Because the vast majority of maize farmers are women, these results will also impact women's empowerment, which will be reflected in a Women's Empowerment in Agriculture Index (USAID, Feed the Future) study that evaluates independence, literacy, time use, domestic violence, land ownership, and other measures of empowerment.