If There Were No Bananas
These bananas are our life. We not only get food but also school fees for children, a cow that helps to get manure, a goat, government taxes. A banana garden is everything in our life.
Those words from Claudio Mubangizi, a smallholder farmer in Uganda, come as a surprise to most in the northern, wealthy part of the world. We tend to take bananas for granted, a pleasant but not essential dessert food from the tropics. What most do not know is that for much of the developing world, bananas and their close relatives, plantains, are a staple food. In fact bananas and plantains are the world's fourth most important staple food crop. Yet little research has been done to ensure the plant's survival. Grown by resource poor farmers from the Philippines to Costa Rica, bananas have been blamed for the rise in slash and burn farming but at the same time are threatened by a host of diseases that have already reduced banana harvests by half in many parts of Africa. Baobab's video If There Were No Bananas takes viewers on a whirlwind tour of the developing world where bananas and plantains mean the difference between hunger and hope. Starting at a lively banana market in southern India and ending as a plantain meal is lovingly prepared in Cameroon, it travels to Thailand, the Philippines, Cuba, Uganda, Tanzania, Costa Rica and Nicaragua. The video, produced for Bioversity International, shows both the level of the threat and the work being done in many countries to ensure the survival of this important crop.
Fixing Health Systems
The Tanzania Essential Health Interventions Project (TEHIP) used evidence-based assessments to help local health authorities make sound decisions about the provision of health services. This was an innovative approach that challenged the prevailing paradigm where centralized government ministries of health made decisions for the whole country. We made a series of short documentaries in English and French to highlight several of the impacts and key features of the project to accompany a book that also documented the project's success. The features were filmed on location along the Kilombero-Rufiji river system in Tanzania. The stories in our series are:
- Building Better Health
- The Child not the Disease
- Evidence for Change
- Net Solution
Each of the videos is posted on the IDRC website and Baobab has also produced a DVD of the series that includes each feature in English and French and compilations of all four videos into a two half-hour programs.
Baobab produced a video with music and a video news release package to celebrate and document this innovative project in which primary and secondary students from 90 schools in around the world learned to use sophisticated bioassay techniques to monitor community water quality. Most of the schools were in developing countries and had to show great ingenuity to overcome lack of a formal infrastructure or proper test equipment. Baobab visited participating schools in Burkina Faso, Mexico, the Ukraine, the Philippines and in Germany and Canada. The project is an initiative of Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC).The result is a video that shows how much young people all over the world care about the environment.
Centres of Action
Baobab produced a second season of international agriculture features for The Canadian Farm, a national agri-food television magazine broadcast on the affiliate stations of the Canadian Television Network (CTV). The stories,centred around the work of the Asian and African research centres of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, were recorded on location in the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Mali, Zambia, Malawi and Zimbabwe. Each story shows how grass-roots research work is helping the world's most disadvantaged farmers produce more from their land. In particular the items focus on the key role agricultural research plays in improving global food security. The series was produced with the support of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) as part of its Development Information Program (today called the Mass Media Initiative). We also made a VCD of the series for distribution in developing countries.
Food Security for the World's Poorest
The research work of the three Latin America-based research centres of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) formed the basis for 10 television features about food security issues in the Americas. Baobab produced the stories for The Canadian Farm, a national television magazine. The production team visited Mexico, Colombia and Peru to record the series which was supported by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).
If plants were the only victims, few would care. Clodomiro Ramos is as much a victim as his beans are. A farmer in the Dominican Republic, he stands in the middle of what should have been a rich and profitable bean field. But this season because of a disease called 'bean golden mosaic' he will harvest nothing. A whole set of plant diseases, related to the one that has wiped him out, is sweeping the tropical and sub-tropical worlds. These insidious diseases have two things in common. All are devastating to crops, ruining the livelihoods of thousands of farm families and reducing the supply of nutritious food for the world's poorest and they are all transmitted by a tiny insect called the whitefly. White Plague is a short feature that, for the first time, documents the magnitude of the problem. It was shot on location in East Africa, the Caribbean, Mexico and Colombia. The video was selected as a finalist at the prestigious Yorkton Short Film and Video Festival in the Educational/Instructional category. Produced for the Intercenter Whitefly Initiative of the CGIAR, White Plague proved to be a pivotal tool in raising funds from donors to continue research into solutions to the whitefly disease problem.
Every Corner of the Land
My name is Gerardo Soto Vargas. My profession is agriculture
Those simple but profound words open Every Corner of the Land, Baobab's sensitive documentary feature about the chemical-spray culture of the Andes mountains. The video focuses on the efforts of farmers and scientists to break the habit; restore fertility to the land. CBC News Now, the 24 hour news and information channel of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, featured the documentary on its environment program "Planet Watch."
To Leave Something More
To Leave Something More is an award-winning documentary feature about the work of the Andean Bean Research Network. By looking at two specific projects in Ecuador, the film illustrates the commitment of researchers and farmers to work together to improve both the food supply and the environment. They do this on the precarious slopes of the Andes mountains. It is on these beautiful but dangerous slopes that many farmers must grow their crops. One of the farmer groups involved in the work has a motto that inspired the title of this film. They say: "It is always better to leave more, not less." To Leave Something More won the special International Cooperation Award at the 1998 International Festival of Agricultural Videos. A hundred and sixty-four videos and films from fifteen countries were entered in the competition, which was adjudicated by an expert panel. The documentary was produced for CIAT, the International Center for Tropical Agriculture.