Dietary Diversity and Biofortification: Closer Than You Think

Women and biodiversitySome 2 billion people suffer from hidden hunger caused by infections and diets lacking in essential micronutrients such as vitamin A, iron, and zinc. This is particularly the case in the developing world, where diets mainly consist of starchy staples and not enough nutrient-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, beans and pulses, and animal source foods.

But what if those food staples that people eat regularly were made to work toward better nutrition? And how does that fit with the need for dietary diversification? This first in a new series of policy briefs explains the link between biofortification and dietary diversity.

Connecting Farmers to Markets: A New Report from World Food Programme

The World Food Programme (WFP) has just released a new report: The P4P story – Connecting farmers to markets.

Purchase for Progress (P4P) is a five year pilot project of the WFP that has transformed the lives of smallholder farmers in 20 developing countries.

According to the report, P4P links WFP’s demand for staple food commodities, such as cereals and pulses, with the technical expertise of a wide range of partners. This collaboration provides smallholders with the skills and knowledge to improve their agricultural production, and an incentive to do so, as they have an assured market in which to sell their surplus crops. The successes of farmers, governments and other WFP partners have enjoyed by working together is highlighted.

The report also notes HarvestPlus’ role in increasing the availability of biofortified crops to small holder farmers who are most challenged by malnutrition in countries such as Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia. In these countries, P4P affiliated smallholder farmers started to grow iron beans, vitamin A sweet potato, and vitamin A maize respectively.

 “Smallholders are participating in seed multiplication activities, growing the biofortified crops and selling part of their produce back to HarvestPlus for redistribution, while retaining a portion of the household consumption.”

The WFP has also released a corresponding technical report Purchase for Progress (P4P) – Reflections on the pilot.

Ken Davies, P4P Global Coordinator, spoke about WFP’s collaboration with HarvestPlus while at the 2nd Global Conference on Biofortification: “Getting Nutritious Foods to People” in Kigali, Rwanda

New Progress Briefs on Biofortification

HarvestPlus has released a set of briefs on progress to date in biofortification. These briefs present: the status of crop development; evidence on nutrition, consumer acceptance, and cost-effectiveness; and, crop delivery experiences. Readers interested in learning more about these topics can follow the references to journal articles and working papers that underpin many of the briefs.

“Anybody who is interested in biofortification will appreciate how useful and timely the progress briefs are,” says HarvestPlus Director Howarth Bouis. “Whether you are a researcher or a practitioner, these briefs will bring you up to speed on evidence, accomplishments and challenges associated with biofortification.”

The progress briefs update the "Ideas Lab Briefs" that were very well received at the Second Global Conference on Biofortification in Kigali, Rwanda, earlier this year. They should be of interest to a variety of audiences, and can be accessed here.