Akumoye’s maize yields in Kenya tripled when she decided to restore the health of her soils by planting nitrogen-fixing trees, spreading phosphate fertilizer, and applying the biomass of the ‘Mexican sunflower’, which she grows around field edges.

A film commissioned by the UN hunger Task Force

Small-scale farming families represent about half the hungry worldwide and probably three-quarters of the hungry in Africa. Raising the productivity of
their crops, vegetables, trees, and livestock is a major priority in the ?ght against hunger.

Essential to all forms of agriculture, nutrient inputs come mainly from mineral and organic fertilizers.  When properly used, mineral fertilizers can produce high yield increases. However, most mineral fertilizers add only the three major elements – nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium – to the soil, whereas organic inputs add all 16 essential elements, including carbon. Organic carbon is vital, since it improves the soil’s water-holding capacity and is an energy source for the micro-organisms that enhance nutrient cycling.

Restoring health to the soil is the ?rst entry point for increasing agricultural productivity, especially in Kenya. It is done by applying appropriate combinations of mineral and organic fertilizers, using green manures to improve soil fertility, planting fertilizer trees, returning crop residues to the soil, and using improved methods of soil erosion control and water conservation.

Small farmers recently also made some exciting progress in developing dual-purpose food/feed crops that enable them to diversify into livestock production without jeopardizing their short-term food security.

In this film we see how farmers also improve their food security by diversifying into high-value crops and products. Livestock, farm trees, aquaculture, and vegetables provide small-scale farmers with attractive options for diversifying their diets and sources of income while also enhancing the stability and sustainability of their farming enterprise.

•    Commissioned by The United Nations task force program to eradicate hunger. Shot in Kenya using local film crews.
•    Screened at the 2004 African Union congress in Addis Ababa, this film was used to inspire African leaders to advocate and promote the Millennium Development goals.

Producer / Editor: Peter Swanson
Director: Paul King
Camera: Andrew Njoroge
Executive Producers: Joost van Loon & Alexandra Jansse 2004

Themes: Food security, Yield increase, Fertilizers, High-value crops, Hunger Task Force Millennium Project.