Main content

Food or Fuel?

Food or Fuel?

While Africa is short of food, the world is running short of fuel. Until now the fuels that power prosperity have been mostly coal, oil and gas. But these fossil fuels can pollute, and are running short, whereas new technology means cars, even power grids, can run on fuels from crops like ethanol from corn or sugar cane. It's been estimated world demand for biofuels over 20 years will need an area one and a half times the size of Kenya.
Kenyan Farmer and campaigner Moses Shaha is cynical about biofuels. He journeys through the Tana Delta, where farmers are starting to grow jatropha, a biofuel crop, to understand if is a threat to farming land and food security as he fears, or if biofuels can in fact inspire innovation and help the environment long-term.

'Examining the issue from the base up, Food or Fuel? gives a fresh perspective on a phenomenon that has an enormous impact at the global level. Interesting and effective...This documentary helps us reflect to the pros and cons of growing jatropha for oil in marginal lands, and will be a great discussion starter in the classroom. Moses's apparent stubbornness to embrace the opportunities offered by the cultivation of jatropha expresses a sense of farmers' agency that is often hidden in debates at higher levels.' Fabio Parasecoli, Associate Professor and Coordinator of Food Studies, The New School, Author, Bite Me! Food in Popular Culture, co-Editor, Cultural History of Food

'Very impressive. These films present current problems in global food production and consumption with unstinting clarity. They highlight figures who advocate for indigenous crops without simply turning back the clock or giving in to the Western model of industrial scale agriculture. They propose models which value the local economy and yet think progressively in ways that will help people deal with rising population and increasingly volatile market for foodstuffs. These are thinkers, activists, politicians and farmers who will shape the future of food around the world.' Ken Albala, Professor of History, University of the Pacific, Author, Beans: A History


Main credits

Richards, Jenny (Producer)
Kinyanjui, Christine (Director)
Bradshaw, Steve (Film editor)

Other credits

Music, Audio Network; camera, Pete Murimi (Kenya), Fanscesco Manetti (Italy), Alex Gabbay (UK); editor, Joy Lusige.

Docuseek2 subjects

Distributor subjects

African Studies
Developing World
Food And Nutrition
Global Issues
Local Economies
Sustainable Development


Kenya, Moses Shaha, Tana Delta, jatropha, biofuels,; Africa, food, fuel, fossil fuels, pollution, ethanol, ethanol from corn, ethanol from sugar can, food production, food security, innovation, agroecology, Bedford Biofuels, Joel Ruhu, David Pimentel, Energy Africa, Eirik Trondsen, Thomson Sinkala, food security, Kanayo Nwanze, IFAD, marginal lands, Lorna Omuodo, Vanilla Jatropha Foundation, Clifford Spencer, United Nations Foundation,"Food or Fuel?",Bullfrog Films

Related Films

DIRT! The Movie

The story of Earth's most valuable and underappreciated source of fertility,…

We Feed the World

Vividly reveals the dysfunctionality of the industrialized world food…

The New Green Giants

Examines the complex and controversial world of today's exploding organic…