HarvestPlus’ innovative solution for micronutrient malnutrition was recently highlighted by colleagues, champions, and partners at the annual African Green Revolution Forum. A leading agricultural gathering for leaders developing plans for advancing African agriculture, this year focused on enabling pathways for sustainable agribusiness.
Two sessions during the four-day conference in Kigali, Rwanda, discussed biofortification, highlighting past and future nutrition innovations and strategies in agriculture. The process involves crossing high-yielding varieties of staple crops with more nutritious ones—with the aim of improving the nutritional value of the foods farming families have readily available. Much of our work began and remains in Africa south of the Sahara, where a staggering 48% of children under five are vitamin A deficient, putting them at risk of illness and death. At the same time, Africa leads the way in the introduction and scale-up of biofortification, with nutrient-rich crops now available or being tested in 38 countries on the continent. 13 African countries have already included biofortification in their policies and programs, and the African Union and African Development Bank have been supportive.
“We have developed an [vitamin A] orange maize that is just as high yielding as the white maize and provides 40% of the daily dietary requirement. The price for the orange maize is the same as the price of the white maize,” said Dr. Howdy Bouis, 2016 World Food Prize laureate and HarvestPlus founder.
HarvestPlus was honored to showcase our work at the forum as a partner of Feed the Future, the U.S. Government’s Global Hunger and Food Security Initiative. Support from USAID over the past two decades has accelerated access to biofortification and helped assemble broader support and funding.
Our continued efforts to improve nutrition, health and livelihoods wouldn’t be possible without support and collaboration with hundreds of partners. We are pleased to congratulate the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture—a key partner for the development of vitamin A cassava—for receiving the Africa Food Prize for its innovative leadership in the face of climate change, crop pests and youth unemployment.
“Food is much more than fuel,” said Dr. David Nabarro, 2018 World Food Prize laureate and Strategic Director of Skills, Systems and Synergies for Sustainable Development (4SD). “Nutrition, agriculture, and development are linked. We must utilize innovations like biofortification that work with those links!”