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HarvestPlus Named Semi-Finalist in MacArthur Foundation Competition for $100 Million Grant
February 15, 2017

Washington D.C., February 15, 2017HarvestPlus is one of eight semi-finalists named today by 100&Change, a global competition for a single $100 million grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The competition seeks bold solutions to critical problems of our time.

The World Health Organization estimates that malnutrition contributes to 3.1 million deaths of children under-five every year, almost half of all deaths for that age group.

“We know that good nutrition is an essential building block for growth and development,” says HarvestPlus CEO Bev Postma. “Sadly, many children in rural Africa and other parts of the developing world still suffer from the devastating effects of ‘hidden hunger.’ They may not be visibly hungry, but their basic diets lack the essential micronutrients for good health.”

HarvestPlus has pioneered a simple but transformative way to increase the nutritional value of staple food crops, such as sweet potatoes, beans, maize, and cassava. These improved varieties provide higher amounts of vitamin A, iron, and zinc—the three micronutrients identified by the World Health Organization as most lacking in diets globally.

Recent studies have shown that crops pioneered by HarvestPlus and its partners can dramatically improve vitamin A status, reduce diarrheal disease, improve visual function, and reverse iron deficiency in women and children.

“HarvestPlus has already reached 20 million people worldwide and our goal is to reach one billion people by 2030. We can do this only with the help of partners, such as the MacArthur Foundation,” says Postma.

With additional resources, HarvestPlus can work with others to scale up its partnerships and empower rural communities across Africa to tackle hidden hunger by growing and consuming more nutritious and sustainable varieties of staple crops.

A summary of our solution, an overview video of our project, and a MacArthur video describing our proposal are available here: https://www.macfound.org/press/semifinalist-profile/harvestplus/.

“The eight ambitious proposals exemplify the passion, range, and creativity of the hundreds of applications,” said MacArthur President Julia Stasch. “We hope that the competition inspires individuals and organizations to be bold and think big, because solutions are possible.” 

MacArthur’s Board will select up to five finalists in September. Finalists will present their proposals during a live event on December 11, 2017, before the Board names a single recipient to receive $100 million over up to six years.

Editors’ Notes

100&Change is a unique competition for organizations worldwide to submit proposals promising real progress toward solving a critical problem of our time in any field or any location. There was robust participation: 7,069 competition registrants submitted 1,904 proposals. Of those, 801 passed an initial administrative review and were evaluated by a panel of expert judges who each provided ratings on four criteria: meaningfulness, verifiability, durability, and feasibility. MacArthur’s Board of Directors made the final selection. 

“It is our hope that these creative proposals will benefit from expert feedback, technical assistance, and public attention,” said Cecilia Conrad, MacArthur’s Managing Director leading the competition. “And that they attract funding from other sources, even if they do not win 100&Change.”

Each semi-finalist will next work with an expert team to address questions about their technical and organizational capacity. The expert team will provide feedback to the semi-finalists to inform proposal revision and will submit an assessment to MacArthur’s Board. The semi-finalists will also be asked to show authentic engagement with their target communities and other relevant stakeholders. 

The MacArthur Foundation supports creative people, effective institutions, and influential networks building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world.

More About HarvestPlus

The HarvestPlus mission is to improve nutrition and public health by developing and promoting everyday food crops that are rich in vitamins and minerals, and providing global leadership on the technology and evidence that have enabled and proven this innovation. HarvestPlus is part of the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH), which helps realize the potential of agricultural development to deliver gender-equitable health and nutritional benefits to the poor. CGIAR is a global research partnership for a food-secure future. The HarvestPlus program works with over 200 partners worldwide and is coordinated by two CGIAR centers—the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). HarvestPlus’ principal donors are the UK Government; the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; the U.S. Government's Feed the Future initiative; the European Commission; the Government of Canada, and donors to A4NH. Visit www.HarvestPlus.org for more information.