Washington D.C., December 20, 2017 – HarvestPlus is proud to announce it has been awarded $15 million as one of the finalists in the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s 100&Change competition. This global challenge has sought bold solutions to critical problems of our time, and this award recognizes HarvestPlus for its work on a solution to one of the world’s greatest problems—hidden hunger.
“HarvestPlus’ revolutionary process of using natural plant breeding to enrich staple crops, combined with its strong on-the-ground networks and partnerships, is a feasible and durable solution to remediate the lack of dietary diversity for millions of people. It also has the potential to improve their economic opportunity,” said Cecilia Conrad, MacArthur’s Managing Director who leads 100&Change. “MacArthur is deeply committed to helping HarvestPlus attract the support its critical work requires and finding partners to realize its impactful solution.”
“Thanks to 100&Change, we will be able to use the simple power of biofortification to address one of the world’s biggest problems – hidden hunger – by reversing the effects of nutrient deficiency in Africa so more children can have the opportunity to live, learn and grow to their full potential,” says HarvestPlus CEO Bev Postma. “HarvestPlus congratulates its fellow awardees, and in particular Sesame Workshop and the International Rescue Committee, which have been granted the $100 million prize.”
The World Health Organization estimates that malnutrition contributes to the death of 3.1 million children under five every year, almost half of all deaths for that age group. Of these losses, one million are the direct result of hidden hunger.
Hidden hunger stems from a lack of dietary diversity in impoverished communities, where many people rely on one or two crops for their primary diet. HarvestPlus has pioneered a revolutionary way to increase the nutritional value of these crops through a natural plant breeding process called biofortification.
In collaboration with international research institutes and national research partners, HarvestPlus breeds crops like sweet potatoes, beans, maize, and cassava to contain higher amounts of vitamin A, iron, and zinc—three of the micronutrients most lacking in diets globally, according to the World Health Organization.
Nutrition studies have shown that crops pioneered by HarvestPlus and its partners can dramatically improve vitamin A deficiency, reduce diarrheal disease, improve visual function, and reverse iron deficiency in women and children.
Based on a model of sustainabilityHarvestPlus will use the $15 million grant to scale up its operations and the delivery of biofortified seeds ensuring that more communities will forever have access to crops that are more nutritious, resilient and high yielding—improving health and boosting economic development globally.
Watch this video to learn more about how HarvestPlus is working to solve hidden hunger around the world.