Colombia’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, together with HarvestPlus and Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT, announced that more than 14 tons of biofortified maize, bean, and rice seed will be distributed free of charge to at least 7,000 rural farming families in various parts of the country.

At a ceremony to sign the joint agreement on the seed deliveries, Minister of Agriculture Rodolfo Enrique Zea said the seeds will “strengthen food security in the regions and benefit not only the diets of rural families but also those who seek to increase their income from the sale of surplus crops—improving their quality of life and reducing the level of poverty.”  Each farming family will receive about 2 kilograms of seed. 

Jesús Quintana, Managing Director for the Americas of the Alliance of Bioversity-CIAT and Director General of CIAT, said, “The Alliance brings research from the laboratory to the Colombian field with biofortified foods. These crops provide better yield, are more resistant to pests, and most importantly, have micronutrients such as iron and zinc that improve nutrition.”

Zea said the seeds will be distributed in accordance with required social distancing, biosafety, and self-care protocols. Farmers will only assume the cost of the shipment. The delivery will be made in two phases: a first totaling 2.13 tons of seeds that are currently available, will begin to be distributed in the third week of August; a second phase, totaling 12.2 tons sown in June 2020, will be delivered in February 2021. 

Farmers who accept the seeds agree to sow the entire allotment, and save some seeds from the harvest for the next planting cycle. The Secretariats of Agriculture and Umatas are providing technical assistance to farmers using the seeds.