The HarvestPlus Marketing Strategy

At HarvestPlus, we combine marketing principles, creativity, insights (research), and strategic partnerships (external and internal) to generate demand and create large-scale awareness of biofortified crops. This approach and aspiration is aligned with HarvestPlus’ strategy to mainstream biofortification.

The approach falls broadly into two categories. The Push Strategy is composed of activities that support and/or promote the growing of biofortified crops and the sale of biofortified seed, crop and processed food. The Pull Strategy involves activities that support and/or promote the consumption of biofortified crops by the end consumer. The two approaches are essential to achieving the objectives of the marketing unit and supporting HarvestPlus’ organizational strategy.


  • Work with partners in the promotion of biofortified varieties to farmers
  • Provide support to agro dealers/retailers/wholesalers in developing promotional material for seed and grain
  • Provide recommendations/guidelines for processing, storage, packaging labels and POS material to food processors


  • Increase consumer knowledge, by educating consumers on the benefits of specific nutrients
  • Positioning biofortified crops as an accessible, cost effective way to incorporate specific nutrients in one’s diet
  • Influence behaviour and attitudes regarding nutrition by encouraging consumers to make good choices
  • Portraying the link between good nutrition and a better life

The success of biofortification relies on the sustained demand of biofortified crops from the end consumer. For this to happen, in the case of visually differentiated crops, consumers often have to change a deeply entrenched behavior of eating only the staple crop variety to which they are accustomed.  

Our approach to consumer marketing at HarvestPlus involves the execution of successful campaigns that result in behavior change. For each audience/target group we work with, we clearly identify the current behavior which needs to be changed in order to meet our goal of addressing vitamin and/or mineral deficiencies.  Through various consumer research studies, we are able to understand

Barriers — what are the factors that will stop them from adopting the biofortified crops?

Triggers — what could we do to motivate them to start adopting biofortified crops? 

Motivators what are the ways to help them stick with the new behaviour (continue eating biofortified crops)?


Nothing ever becomes real until it is experienced. We place a strong emphasis on experiential marketing activities where the target audience engages with the crop/product; this makes communication with our audience more meaningful, memorable and generates conversation within the community. During these activities consumers usually have a chance to see, touch and taste biofortified crops and/or products.

Example: Community Nutrition Outreach Program

In 2013/2014, a community nutrition outreach program was conducted by HarvestPlus Uganda as way to promote the adoption of Vitamin A Sweet Potatoes by care givers of infant children. Through these activations, 64,350 care givers were introduced to Vitamin A Sweet Potato and educated about the benefits of feeding it to their children. They had an opportunity to see the raw uncooked crop as well enjoy a meal made from the crop.  

In most African communities, entertainment in the form of music, dance, theatre and film play a big part of culture. HarvestPlus uses various forms of edutainment (entertainment-education) as a vehicle to deliver our message.

Example: Music Concerts

As part of HarvestPlus Rwanda’s marketing campaign to raise the consumer awareness of biofortified high iron beans, three of Rwanda’s top musicians wrote and recorded a song about the value of including high iron beans in one’s diet. They then embarked on a series countrywide concerts where they performed the song as well as spoke to the communities about the benefits of including high iron beans in one’s diet.

Example: Film 

The production (September 2014) of a film titled “The Yellow Cassava” enlisted the talent of A-list actors and producers in Nollywood (Nigeria’s movie industry). The film entertains while informing Nigerians on how vitamin A cassava can improve their health and encourages switching from white cassava to yellow cassava. Distribution and free screenings of the film will reach millions of both rural and urban farmers, processors and consumers of cassava across the country.

Another way in which our messages effectively reach our audience is through the use of ambassadors in the form of community, religious , and school leaders as well as health workers. HarvestPlus works with these partners in order to lend credibility to our messages in communities where the people may be skeptical to adopt new behaviours proposed by external actors.

Example: Endorsements by Community Leaders

HarvestPlus  Zambia has been successfully working with health workers in community clinics to educate mothers on the benefits of provitamin A maize for themselves and their children. Nursing staff of clinics are respected and trusted by the community; and as such are credible endorsers of the message of vitamin A. 

There are currently more than 100,000 Zambian farming households growing and eating orange maize. HarvestPlus expects that at least 600,000 households will have adopted the crop by 2020.

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