October 14, 2014

Zipporah’s Miracle Harvest

This post by senior fellow Roger Thurow originally appeared on the Outrage and Inspire blog.

We’re excited to announce the launch of a new multi-part film series on Roger Thurow’s The Last Hunger Season. Now through October 16—coinciding with World Food Day 2014—we will be releasing new episodes from the series each week. Part 8, our final episode in the series, is now available below. See all episodes.


When I first met Zipporah Biketi in western Kenya while reporting The Last Hunger Season book, she and her husband and four children were living in a small mud hut with a thatched roof that leaked in the rain. The family was already two months into their hunger season. Zipporah was rationing food and reducing meals. She poignantly described the hurt of not being able to satisfy her hungry children.

At the end of the year, the Biketis were eating three meals a day. And Zipporah produced a blueprint of the new house they were planning to build, with sturdy bricks and a metal roof.

What happened?  A bumper harvest, beyond their wildest expections.  “A miracle,” Zipporah called it.

The Biketi’s maize harvest multiplied 10-fold from the previous year.  It was nearly two tons, which was double what Zipporah needed to feed her family throughout the year. That left them with a rare surplus; suddenly they could afford their dreams.

In this episode of our film series, Zipporah and her husband Sanet explain how they conquered their hunger season—and proved the potential of Africa’s smallholder family farmers to contribute to global food security.


The Global Food and Agriculture Program aims to inform the development of US policy on global agricultural development and food security by raising awareness and providing resources, information, and policy analysis to the US Administration, Congress, and interested experts and organizations.

The Global Food and Agriculture Program is housed within the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, an independent, nonpartisan organization that provides insight – and influences the public discourse – on critical global issues. The Council on Global Affairs convenes leading global voices and conducts independent research to bring clarity and offer solutions to challenges and opportunities across the globe. The Council is committed to engaging the public and raising global awareness of issues that transcend borders and transform how people, business, and governments engage the world.

Support for the Global Food and Agriculture Program is generously provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.


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