More than two billion people in the world do not get enough essential vitamins and minerals in their daily diets. Those suffering from this invisible form of undernutrition are vulnerable to blindness, impaired physical and cognitive development, disease and even death. The impact of this lost potential is staggering; annual GDP losses from low weight, poor child growth and micronutrient deficiencies average 11 percent in Asia and Africa.
Women and children are particularly at risk.
- 71 percent of children under five and 56 percent of pregnant women in Central and West Africa suffer from anemia. Diets deficient in iron are often to blame.
- 48 percent of children under five in Africa south of the Sahara are deficient in vitamin A, putting them at risk of illness and death.
- Zinc deficiency stunts the body and mind of nearly half of children under the age of five in Guatemala (46.5%) and Pakistan (45%)
All children, regardless of where they are born, deserve the opportunity to reach their full potential. But for low-income farming families in developing countries, fruits and vegetables, high-quality proteins, vitamin supplements or processed food fortified with micronutrients are often sadly out of reach.
That’s why, with the help of many partners, HarvestPlus is developing and promoting new, more nutritious varieties of staple food crops with higher amounts of vitamin A, iron or zinc—three of the micronutrients identified by the World Health Organization as most lacking in diets globally. The process is known as biofortification—and regular consumption of these innovative crops is improving nutrition and public health.
HarvestPlus: Better Crops. Better Nutrition.