Let Seed Be Thy Medicine
for Iowa State University
“We want many many people to eat orange maize, to feed children,
old people, so they can be happy.”
Catherine Njema, orange maize farmer
In too many parts of the world, monocultural agriculture along with food insecurity has led to an insidious type of malnutrition: hidden hunger. Hidden hunger strikes when you don’t get enough micronutrients (like zinc, iron, or Vitamin A). It causes severe malnutrition, immune deficiencies, night blindness, and stunting. It’s ravages communities and preys particularly on young children.
Zambia is one of all too many countries struggling with hidden hunger. Here, the target is Vitamin A. Over 50% of the population doesn’t get enough. Government programs have tried to combat it by providing micronutrient supplements, but this is costly and unwieldy.
Enter Harvest Plus, an NGO that is working to biofortify the primary stable crop in Zambia: corn. By naturally breeding Vitamin A into the corn supply, everyone can get the Vitamin A they need simply by eating their nshima, a polenta-like corn dish that is served breakfast, lunch, and dinner throughout the country. In Zambia, they call it Orange Maize.
This amazing story inspired Pierce Mill to focus on how HarvestPlus is working to end hidden hunger. Our short documentary about biofortification and HarvestPlus’s work has been hailed by the founder of HarvestPlus, Howdy Bouis, as the most complete, concise, and effective story told to date about what they do and how they do it.