IIED and Hivos film calls for life beyond maize in Zambia

News, 10 October 2017
A new film launched ahead of World Food Day highlights the importance of diversifying agricultural production in Zambia, from farm to fork, in order to improve the nation’s diet.

A new six-minute film describes the cultural influences and policy challenges facing Zambia as the country strives to promote dietary diversity despite being heavily reliant on maize as its primary source of food.

Although government policies aimed at improving access to sufficient and nutritious foods are in place nationally, inequality means many Zambians, and women and infants in particular, are not eating nutritious and varied meals. 

Despite steady declines in food prices, between 1971 and 2011 calories from fish, eggs, vegetables and milk reduced from already low levels.  Consumption of fruit and meat remained the same, while access to fats, oil and starchy food doubled.   

These statistics highlight the reality that Zambian diets are often monotonous, lacking in variety and, most importantly, are dominated by maize.

The 'Life beyond maize' film shows interviews with Zambian Minister of Agriculture Dora Siliya, a small-scale farmer, and a working family. Each interviewee shares their perspective on the urgent need for diversification in Zambia's agricultural production and consumption habits. 

Siliya tackles the issue of diversification head on, saying: "I don't want to be the minister of maize, I want to be the minister of agriculture."

Nutrition decision-making

The film has been launched ahead of World Food Day on 16 October, and will be shown at the United Nations' Committee on World Food Security (CFS), which starts its 44th plenary session in Rome on 10 October. 

Organised annually, the CFS plenary is the central body for global decision-making, debate, coordination and lesson-learning on food security and nutrition issues. The screening is particularly relevant as a high level panel of experts for the CFS will launch a seminal report on food systems and nutrition on 11 October.

'Life beyond maize' will be shown at a fringe event titled 'Multi-stakeholder action to safeguard diversity within the global food system'. IIED will also present findings from the policy brief 'Nourishing diversity: a five-point plan to enrich food systems' (PDF)

Watch a video interview with IIED senior researcher Seth Cook discussing the findings detailed in the policy briefing. Those attending CFS44 can find out more about the side event, and apply to attend.

'Life beyond maize' was produced by Judith Madigan and Mark Van Luyk of BrandOutLoud, in partnership with IIED and Hivos. The film is the first in a series of four films that will be made for the five-year 'Sustainable diets for all (SD4A)' programme.

Sustainable diets for all operates in Zambia, Uganda, Bolivia and Indonesia, and is delivered in partnership with Dutch NGO Hivos. It's funded by the Dutch Ministry for Foreign Affairs.  

  • Share 'Life beyond maize', and follow IIED's participation at CFS44 on Twitter using the hashtags #sustdiets and #CFS44.

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