The June issue of the journal Food Security featured a special section: Strengthening the links between nutrition and health outcomes and agricultural research. This special section looks beyond production and consumption within farming households; it explores how to increase access to, and impact of, nutritious, safe and sustainably-produced food through markets, food environments, and enabling policy. It includes a synthesis paper on consumer acceptance of biofortified crops in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Co-authored by HarvestPlus Head of Impact Research Ekin Birol, “…the studies summarized here revealed that biofortified foods are liked by target consumers, in some cases even in the absence of information about their nutritional benefits, though information and awareness campaigns often have an important role to play.” This synthesis and all the other papers in the special section of the Food Security journal are freely accessible through the Secure Nutrition platform.
Our 2014 annual report reflects the growing reach of biofortified nutritious staple food crops, now being grown by farmers in dozens of countries. From Nollywood movies and pop songs extolling the benefits that these foods can provide to new scientific evidence to back it all up, biofortification is truly going global. Read the report in magazine format or download a copy.
And this year, we’ve also launched a compendium of 2014 research publications by HarvestPlus and its global network of collaborators. You can download this here.
If you would like to receive a print copy of either or both reports, please email HarvestPlus@cgiar.org.
Her Excellency Tumusiime Rhoda Peace, AU Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture recently received Dr. Howarth Bouis, Director of Harvest Plus and Dr. Anna-Marie Ball the Head of Africa Strategic Alliances, Harvest Plus to discuss scaling up biofortification in Africa at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on April 27.
Commissioner Tumusiime applauded HarvestPlus’ accomplishments in breeding and producing biofortified food crops and seed varieties, which are contributing to improving nutrition and reducing ‘hidden hunger’ among rural, poor communities in Africa.
She pledged her support to HarvestPlus within her portfolio at the AU and her membership on the Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition.
The Commissioner encouraged HarvestPlus to continue to strongly advocate and promote biofortified crops for poor farmers.
HarvestPlus recently launched the up-scaling of orange sweet potato in Uganda at an event marked by participation of key partners and dignitaries. The event was launched under the theme, “Biofortification: A new way to reduce micronutrient deficiencies.”
Uganda’s Speaker of the Parliament, Ms. Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga participated in this launch event on February 11, 2015. She said,
“Let me take this opportunity to officially launch the scaling of the orange sweet potato in Uganda and recommend it to farmers, agricultural extension advisors and the general public.”
The Speaker was the official guest of honor for the HarvestPlus launch event.
The OSP project is targeted to reduce Vitamin A deficiency, which has affected 33% of children and 35% of women in Uganda. This deficiency is known to cause eye damage, measles and diarrheal diseases in children. Ms. Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga emphasized the critical role of Vitamin A orange sweet potato to improve nutrition and promote better health conditions. She also acknowledged the importance of the scaling up of OSP and applauded HarvestPlus’ initiative in Uganda.
The event was well attended by HarvestPlus and its key partners such as the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). USAID is now funding efforts to provide 285,000 Ugandan farming households with orange sweet potato, as part of the US Government’s global hunger and food security initiative, Feed the Future. The event also attracted wide local support from the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO), Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), many farmers’ organizations and schools in Uganda.
The launch event was featured in a special report in “The Nutritionist” magazine. The benefits of the orange sweet potato project was covered by one of the popular TV stations of Uganda as a prime time show.
The Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition has just released a new policy brief focused on biofortification. Titled Biofortification: An Agricultural Investment for Nutrition, the brief urges policymakers to adopt biofortification as a “nutrient-sensitive national agricultural research and investment strategy.”
It includes technical evidence on the nutritional benefits of biofortified crops, particularly for children and women from rural populations in low and middle-income countries where micronutrient deficiencies (or ‘hidden hunger’) are prevalent. It also highlights some of the biofortified crops that have been released to date and are being grown by farmers in 27 developing countries. Such crops include vitamin A orange sweet potato, cassava, and maize, zinc rice and wheat, and iron beans and pearl millet.
Moreover, the brief showcases Nigeria as a successful example of a developing country whose government has embraced biofortification among strategies to improve nutrition and food security. Nigerian Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Dr. Akinwumi Adesina is a strong advocate of expanding access to biofortified crops. “The challenge is no longer the science for biofortification—we know it works; our challenge as policymakers is to scale up biofortified crops to reach millions of households through institutional, regulatory and financial policy,” he stated at a major conference last year.
The Global Panel’s policy brief encourages policymakers to adopt biofortification as an important element among a suite of complementary strategies to reduce micronutrient deficiencies. It concludes with a list of recommendations for scaling up biofortification, a theme that the Panel previously addressed during the Second Global Conference on Biofortification in Kigali, Rwanda, last year.
The policy brief was launched at an event hosted by the United Kingdom’s All Party Parliamentary Group on Agriculture and Food for Development.