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Goal

The world needs more food and it needs it now. Currently almost one billion people suffer from hunger. That number may soon rise because in 40 years the planet's population will climb to more than 9 billion people, requiring 70% more food. The troubling part is that around the world people are leaving the food-producing countryside to move to cities.

More people and less food production? How will we feed everyone in the coming century?

The International Fund for Agricultural Development's (IFAD) Rural Poverty Report 2011 argues that investing in rural people is critical for reducing hunger and poverty and helping to build thriving economies. To support them: 1) governments and NGO's must reduce the risk that poor people face when investing in their farms, 2) the rural places in the developing world must be attractive places for people to live and learn and prosper, and 3) opportunities for education and skills development in the rural areas need to be expanded.

Moravavy Seraphine and her daughter Maria are perfect examples of what's at stake.



Link: How Will We Feed Them?
Client: International Fund for Agricultural Development
Published: December 8, 2010
Services Utilized
Multimedia Production
Original Reporting
The Challenge
The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), an agency of the United Nations, approached MediaStorm to create a compelling story that would accompany their Rural Poverty Report 2011. The Rural Poverty Report 2011 is a thorough, 167-page research document that includes personal testimonials, policy recommendations, and extensive research on how life is changing for smallholder farms and other rural people in the developing world.

According to the report:

  • Close to one billion people suffer from hunger worldwide.
  • The planet's population will reach more than 9 billion by 2050, requiring 70% more food.
  • Currently in the developing world more than half the population lives in rural areas, but in 10-15 years the majority of people will live in cities. Which means, soon, less people will be farming while the overall population is growing.
Simply put: we need to produce more food and massive migration from rural areas needs to end. To produce more food, farmers need need improved skills to practice efficient and sustainable growing techniques and they need to be empowered and organized to take advantage of existing food markets. To make rural places more attractive places to live, governments need to invest in rural education and the rural non-farm economy.

The challenge was to find a single individual who represented the findings of the report including the successes and shortcomings of governments around the world. An additional challenge was to place the character within a global context and not simply portray the individual as a product of the country in which s/he lived.



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The Solution
MediaStorm sent producer Brad Horn to Madagascar to work with an IFAD-funded organization called the Rural Income Promotion Program (abbreviated in French as  PPRR). Together they worked to identify a woman farmer who could be the subject of a character-driven piece. Horn interviewed five possible candidates as subjects for the story, from whom he chose one woman, Moravavy Seraphine, and her daughter, Maria, as the characters.

Moravavy Seraphine is a small farmer on Madagascar's east coast. She and her 12-year-old daughter, Maria, experienced a tremendous shock in late 2009 when Seraphine's husband died of diabetes. Fortunately for their family they had decided to work with PPRR just prior to his death. The organization provided them with a variety of high-quality crop seeds that gave the family a high yield. As a result, they went from earning about $450 in 2009, to earning more than $2000 in 2010 — more than a four-fold increase.

Yet a large dilemma still looms in Seraphine's and Maria's lives: whether or not to continue Maria's schooling when it's expensive and pull Maria out of the fields. Additionally, if Maria does continue her education past high school the family hopes she can study abroad, meaning she will be separated from her mother.

Seraphine and Maria were chosen as subjects because they were able to overcome a major shock (death of the head of household) due to the assistance from an agricultural organization. But they also personified the "flight from the countryside" that is considered by families around the world in order to find better lives

To provide context and make the telling of their story more global, narration and text slides were employed in the production of the MediaStorm piece.


About the Client
The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), a specialized agency of the United Nations, was established as an international financial institution in 1977 as one of the major outcomes of the 1974 World Food Conference.
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