For many millions of people in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, maize is a subsistence crop. It is very important for ensuring food security in both regions. Maize is also one of the most genetically diverse crops in the world, and scientists have found varieties that have naturally high levels of provitamin A.  

Nutritional Benefit

Provides up to 50 percent of daily vitamin A needs for women of reproductive age and children when eaten regularly  

Varities Released to date:

Africa: 63 Varieties  
Countries: Cameroon, DR Congo, Ghana, Malawi,  Mali, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania,  Zambia, and  Zimbabwe. 

LatAm/Caribbean: 1 Variety  
Countries: Brazil 

Total Households Growing (2021):
2.4 million

CGIAR Breeding Partners: The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and the International Institute for Tropical Agricultur (IITA)

HarvestPlus and its partners use these lines to breed high-yielding varieties and hybrids of biofortified maize with higher levels of provitamin A to combat vitamin A deficiency. Vitamin A deficiency is widely prevalent in Africa and afflicts millions of children, resulting in morbidity, blindness, and even death. Maize with higher levels of provitamin A has been shown to increase serum beta-carotene concentrations and improve their ability to see in dim light (visual adaptation to darkness) in children among undernourished communities that rely upon maize for sustenance.   

HarvestPlus works in partnership with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) to support National Agricultural Research partners and interested seed companies to breed, test, and release open-pollinated varieties (OPV) and hybrids of vitamin A maize in countries where maize is a key staple food.  


Livelihoods and Food Security Program (LFSP)

HarvestPlus supported the Zimbabwe Department of Research and Specialist Services to breed, test, and release varieties of vitamin A maize developed through our partnership with CIMMYT. HarvestPlus was the technical partner on biofortification for the Livelihoods and Food Security Program (LFSP), funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office of the UK government, which is managed by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

HarvestPlus Varieties Released database

Explore the HarvestPlus Varieties Released database for detailed information on all HarvestPlus-promoted vitamin A maize varieties by country.

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Biofortification Priority Index

View the vitamin A maize map on the Biofortification Priority Index site to see where investments in vitamin A maize are estimated to have the greatest impact on nutrition and health.

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Global Crop Map

This interactive map shows which types of biofortified crops are available or in testing around the world.

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Nutrition Information and Evidence

Baseline vitamin A concentration in non-biofortified varieties: 0 parts per million (PPM)  

100% target concentration of vitamin A in vitamin A-biofortified varieties:  15 PPM  

Bioavailability of vitamin A maize in vitamin A-biofortified varieties: 17 % 

Key Nutrition Evidence:  

Vitamin A in biofortified maize breaks down more during storage than when milled or cooked; regardless, enough vitamin A is retained in the maize to provide a significant portion of daily needs, even after 4 months of storage as mealie meal. Biofortified orange maize contains enough vitamin A to meaningfully contribute to children and women’s daily vitamin A needs (when eaten as a staple food). Biofortified maize (safely) improves vitamin A status and visual function in children, making it easier for them to complete their day-to-day activities in dim light. 

Vitamin A Maize in the Value Chain

This brochure describes the benefits of vitamin A maize for consumers and food businesses, and how to integrate it into production and marketing.

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Contact Our

Crop Experts

Contact the HarvestPlus crop experts for more information about nutritional and agronomic characteristics of vitamin A maize, growing, harvesting, and processing vitamin A maize, and connecting with seed suppliers or grain buyers.