The HarvestPlus 2021 Annual Report
There are multiple challenges to food and nutrition security worldwide, including the Ukraine war and other conflicts, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and climate stresses. Beyond the immediate threat of greatly increased hunger and malnutrition, the crises underscore the urgency of crafting better food systems that make nutritious food options more affordable and accessible to all—including the hundreds of millions of smallholder farming households in low- and middle income countries who mostly eat what they grow.
The CGIAR’s HarvestPlus program and its partners contribute to this effort by rapidly scaling crop biofortification, which increases the vitamin and mineral (micronutrient) content of relatively affordable and less perishable staples that rural households and low-income urban consumers rely on to fill their plates—especially during crisis periods.
The 2021 Annual Report describes how global headwinds have not deterred strong progress in our scaling mission. Through fruitful collaboration with hundreds of partners, the number of farming households in Africa, Asia, and Latin America growing biofortified crops increased by 32 percent last year to an estimated 12.8 million, directly benefiting 64 million people. This is especially important for women and children in these households, who are most susceptible to the ill effects of micronutrient deficiency due to their enhanced nutritional needs.
New country commitments
Helping to drive scale is a growing number of strong commitments by national governments and global funders to biofortification. For example, in a major new project in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which is funded by the World Bank, HarvestPlus is providing technical and capacity building assistance to the Government to establish sustainable supply, distribution, and post-harvest markets for biofortified crops.
A value chain approach
The Report explains how we promote sustainable production and consumption of biofortified crops and foods through a value chain-based approach—for example in Pakistan, where zinc-enriched wheat has achieved a significant share of the certified wheat seed market in only a few years since introduction. We also highlight the livelihood and employment opportunities generated by this value chain approach, for farming households as well as SME entrepreneurs operating in the seed and food sectors.
At the same time, HarvestPlus is making sure that biofortification reaches the most vulnerable populations, including in refugee and humanitarian settings, and through school meals and other public support programs.
In all of our activities, we prioritize engagement and empowerment of women, with several examples mentioned in this Annual Report. They include Miriam Chipulu, CEO of Shais Foods in Zambia, who is making consumer food products with nutritious vitamin A-biofortified maize supplied by thousands of smallholder farmer suppliers; and Dinavance Kyomuhendo, a single mother of five and guardian of 10 orphans who went from homelessness to successful biofortified crop entrepreneur.
We encourage more partners in the public, private, NGO, and donor sectors to join this mission to improve nutrition, health, and livelihoods through biofortification. To find out about partnering with HarvestPlus, email: [email protected]