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.

 

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.

Scaling up Biofortification: Better Crops, Better Nutrition Webinar Invite

Photo Credit: Neil Palmer (CIAT)

Photo Credit: Neil Palmer (CIAT)

Please join us for a live seminar, brought to you by the USAID Bureau For Food Security, on Scaling Up Biofortification: Better Crops, Better Nutrition.  This event will be held at 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday, May 12, 2015 online. To register for the webinar, please follow this link. Find out more about this special event here.

Speakers: Dr. Howarth Bouis, Director, HarvestPlus; Dr. Anna-Marie Ball, Manager of Partnerships and Strategic Alliances, HarvestPlus

Biofortification is a cost-effective, innovative approach to growing staple crops that are rich in vitamins and minerals. Dr. Howarth Bouis will discuss the nutritional benefits of biofortified food crops and their adoption by farmers and consumers in developing countries. Dr. Anna-Marie Ball, who led the USAID-funded orange-fleshed sweet potato program in Uganda and now heads HarvestPlus’ regional advocacy and partnership activities, will provide perspectives from the field, including those of government, the private sector, civil society, farmers, and consumers.

AU Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture Meets with HarvestPlus

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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.

Read the Full Press Release Here.

Uganda’s Speaker of the Parliament Launches Up-scaling of Orange Sweet Potato

From left to right; Hon. Rebecca Kadaga, Speaker of Parliament of Uganda, Dr. Goretti Semakula, a researcher based at NARO, Ms. Jo LEsser-Oltheten, USAID's Director of Economic Growth, and Ms. Sylvia Magezi, the Country Manager of HarvestPlus

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.

HarvestPlus Director Speaks on the Power of Biofortification at SAIS

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Dr. Howarth Bouis

HarvestPlus Director Howarth Bouis gave a talk on “The Power of Biofortification” at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington, DC on March 3. This event was part of the Global Issues in Agriculture Speaker series organized by SAIS, a top graduate school that focuses on international affairs, economics, diplomacy, and policy research and education.

THEME: Better Crops, Better Nutrition: the Power of Biofortification
DATE: March 3, 2015
TIME: 4:30PM – 6:00PM
VENUE: Rome Auditorium

A link to the video of the presentation can be found here. 

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