HarvestPlus Shares Insights on Biofortification at Clinton Global Initiative

From left to right: Sylvia Magezi (HarvestPlus Country Manager in Uganda), Marcus Samuelsson (celebrity chef and restaurateur)

HarvestPlus joined scores of organizations in New York City last week at the 11th Annual Meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative to discuss and share ideas to improve the world. Director Howarth Bouis and HarvestPlus Uganda Country Manager Sylvia Magezi both participated.

As part of the panel for a breakout session titled “Starting the Food Chain with Nutrition” on September 28, Magezi shared insights from HarvestPlus’ work in promoting vitamin A orange sweet potato and iron beans in Uganda. She also highlighted the global momentum of biofortification, noting the growing number of governments and organizations that have adopted biofortified crops. “Strategic partnerships are the way to go to reach the billion people [that HarvestPlus expects to benefit from biofortified crops by 2030],” Magezi emphasized.

The panel was moderated by Kathy Spahn, who leads Hellen Keller International, one of HarvestPlus’ major partners in promoting biofortification. A recording of the full session is available here.

Participants at the CGI got a chance to taste vitamin A corn, which was included in the lunch menu. HarvestPlus is promoting this biofortified maize variety in Zambia, where it was recently launched for commercial sale across the country.

The CGI was established in 2005 by former US President Bill Clinton and is an initiative of the Clinton Foundation. It brings together global leaders to discuss innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges.

 

 

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

What is Biofortification?

Getting critical micronutrients (the vitamins and minerals that people need for good health) to the two billion people who lack them has never been more feasible – or tasty – than it is now.

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Will Biofortification Work?

As a new strategy in the global campaign to reduce micronutrient deficiencies, breeding nutritious staple food crops (biofortification) and getting them to millions of people worldwide is no longer just an idea; some half a million people are already planting or eating such crops, be it iron beans, vitamin A orange sweet potato, maize or cassava in Africa, or iron pearl millet in India.

Biofortification seeks to provide, through the foods that people eat regularly, the vitamins and minerals (micronutrients) that are essential to a healthy life. Without these micronutrients, people are less likely to reach their full potential. Micronutrient deficiencies can impair the mental and physical development of infant children and adolescents, resulting in lower IQ, stunting, and even blindness. They also reduce the productivity of adult men and women due to increased risk of illness and reduced work capacity. This condition, also known as hidden hunger, affects one in three people globally.

Howarth Bouis is the director of HarvestPlus, a global program to develop and disseminate biofortified crops. In this short video, Bouis answers three questions that need to be asked--and answered-- if biofortification is to be an effective strategy to improve nutrition and public health: