HarvestPlus supports the Zambia Agriculture Research Institute (ZARI) to breed, test, and release varieties of vitamin A maize developed through our partnership with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA). Maize is the primary staple food in Zambia. Consumers like the color, taste, and aroma of foods made from vitamin A maize as much as white maize. With added information on the benefits of vitamin A, they prefer it to white maize.
Released vitamin A maize varieties are licensed to private seed companies to produce seed for sale to farmers. This commercial seed is distributed through agrodealer networks, NGOs, and the government-sponsored Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) targeting vulnerable smallholder farmers. We support commercial seed and grain sales, identify and link buyers and processors to grain suppliers, and increase awareness of vitamin A maize through consumer education, advertising, and the media. These efforts are complemented by the Zambia Biofortified Maize AgResults Pilot initiative, which supports the rollout of vitamin A maize by providing incentives aimed at industrial millers.
Sweet potato is also an important food in Zambia. We are part of a program led by the International Potato Center to promote vitamin A orange sweet potato.
Cassava is the second most important staple food crop after maize in Zambia and is being field tested in cassava-consuming communities that include Luapula, Western, North-Western, and Northern provinces.
“I tasted vitamin A orange maize at the launch of the USAID Feed the Future program. I found it tastier than our usual white maize. This is the chance for Zambia to start moving out of white maize and adopt a more nutritious and tastier orange maize.”— Mr. Chance Kabaghe, Former Deputy Minister of Agriculture & CEO of Food Reserve Agency
Vitamin A Maize
Zambia ranks number 3 out of 107 countries suitable for investing in vitamin A maize.
Nutritional Benefits: Provides up to 40% of daily vitamin A needs; as effective as supplements.
Farmer Benefits: High yielding, disease and virus resistant, drought tolerant Biofortified
Varieties: GV662A (Kamano Seed), GV664A (ZamSeed), GV665A (SeedCo)
Vitamin A Orange Sweet Potato
Zambia ranks number 17 out of 75 countries suitable for investing in vitamin A orange sweet potato.
Nutritional Benefits: Provides up to 100% of daily vitamin A needs
Farmer Benefits: High yielding, early maturing, drought tolerant biofortified
Varieties: Olympia, Twatasha, Kokota, Chiwoko, Zambezi
- Vitamin A deficiency lowers immunity, impairs vision, and may lead to blindness and even death.
- 54% of Zambian children under 5 are estimated to be vitamin A deficient (WHO).
- Zambia loses over $186 million annually due to vitamin and mineral deficiencies (World Bank).