2015: A Productive Year for Biofortified Crops

Biofortified crops enjoyed a very productive 2015. At the close of the year, nearly 3 million farming households in target countries in Africa and Asia were growing and eating these nutritious staple food crops. Read more about how farmers and their families are reaping the benefits.

 

Stakeholders Meet to Appraise Brazil’s Biofortification Program

Foto 2_Crédito para Tarcila Viana

Photo credit: Tarcila Viana

Stakeholders in Brazil’s biofortification program met in Rio de Janeiro last week to take stock of progress in promoting the development, adoption, and consumption of biofortified crops. The 5th National Biofortification Meeting took place October 13-15 in Rio de Janeiro, bringing together, among others, experts from HarvestPlus, CIAT, ICRISAT, the US Department of Agriculture, the International Union of Food Science and Technology, Cornell University, and Nestlé.

Brazil remains a global leader in national ownership of biofortification, and has released several biofortified crops to farmers, including vitamin A sweet potato, cassava and maize, iron and zinc cowpeas, and iron beans. Biofortified foods have also been included as part of school meals in some states.

HarvestPlus applauded achievements in creating demand for biofortified crops and expanding the reach of these nutritious crops in the northeast region of Brazil, but also identified areas for improvement, such as increasing the rate of voluntary purchases of seed and creating public and social policies on biofortification.

Yery Mendoza, a researcher from Nestlé, expressed confidence in the sustainability of biofortification given the demand potential resulting from increasing pouplation growth, predicting that "it is only a matter of time before biofortified foods reach commercial scale production.” Mendoza noted that Nestlé, and the private sector in general, would play crucial roles in bringing nutritious foods to the table, and creating secure supply chains.

The meeting was organized by the BioFORT Network, which leads the Brazilian biofortification program under the national Agricultural Research Corporation, Embrapa. Marilia Nutti, who heads the BioFORT Network in addition to HarvestPlus’ Latin America and Caribbean program, underscored the importance of learning from other countries’ successes and expriences. She cited Rwanda, where HarvestPlus and partners have reached more than half a million farming households with iron beans.

The Time is Right for Biofortification in India – FAO Rep

On the occasion of World Food Day we are pleased to have Mr. Peter Kenmore, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Representative in India, discuss the benefits of biofortified crops to India. Kenmore considers dissemination of biofortified crops an effective strategy in the task of improving nutrition. He thinks now is the time for India to adopt effective strategies like biofortification that will ensure food and nutrition security along with other favorable conditions like price stability and family farming. In this interview, Kenmore discusses “hidden hunger” and the importance of nutritious diet in the first 1,000 days of a child's life. An agriculturist himself, Kenmore applauds the role of HarvestPlus and its partners who believe in combating malnutrition by developing nutritious varieties of staple food crops using conventional breeding methods.

He refers to a recently published nutrition study, which has shown that pearl millet bred to be richer in iron was able to reverse iron deficiency in school-aged children in India within six months. Watch his short interview below.

Updated Map Shows Biofortification’s Growing Global Reach

Crops Map InforgraphicNearly 50 countries are now growing or testing biofortified crops, demonstrating the global momentum to promote these nutritious staple crops to more farmers and consumers. At the Second Global Conference on Biofortification (GCOBII) last year, participants committed to scaling up biofortified crops. Since then, five more countries have released nutritious crops, and an additional eight countries are evaluating them prior to release to farmers. Read more

 

 

Strengthening Links Between Nutrition, Health Outcomes, and Agricultural Research

12571The 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.

Going Global: Annual Report 2014

Cover_thumbnailOur 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.

Nigeria Determined to be Largest Producer of Nutritious Crops, Says Dr. Adesina

Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, yesterday highlighted the disconnect between rising global wealth and persistent poverty - an underlying cause of poor nutrition. “People eat food, not GDP (Gross Domestic Product),” he emphasized in a rousing keynote address at the end of Day Two of the "Global Consultation on Getting Nutritious Foods to People." Globally recognized for his efforts in improving African agriculture through innovative technology, Dr. Adesina pledged his determination to “make Nigeria the largest grower of biofortified crops.” Watch the short video below for highlights of his speech: