For many millions of people in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America maize is a subsistence crop. It is also 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 zinc.

Nutritional Benefit

Provides up to 70 percent of daily zinc needs 

Varieties Released to Date

LatAm/Caribbean: 11 Varieties
Countries: Colombia, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua

Total Households Growing (2021)

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

HarvestPlus is breeding high-yielding varieties and hybrids of biofortified maize with higher levels of zinc to combat zinc deficiency. Maize open-pollinated varieties (OPV) and hybrids that are bred to be high in zinc can provide up to 70 percent of daily zinc needs and contribute to a reduction in zinc deficiency in regions where daily maize consumption is high.   

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 OPV’s and hybrids of zinc maize in countries where maize is a key staple food. We are currently supporting partners in Nigeria, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua and Panama in Latin America and Africa.   

Featured Project

Zinc maize in Colombia

In 2020, a new partner, the National Federation of Coffee Growers, has joined the efforts of biofortification in the country through the delivery of hybrid maize seed for coffee farmers, as there are around 563,000 in the country- the idea is to close the gap in maize production as 30% of white maize is imported to fulfill the national demand. HarvestPlus Colombian office, in partnership with the private industry, is offering products prepared with biofortified crops that are typical of the country such as mazamorra and natilla, which are cooked with Zinc Maize.

HarvestPlus Varieties Released Database

Explore the database for details on all HarvestPlus-promoted zinc maize varieties that have been released by country.

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Biofortification Priority Index

View an interactive map developed by HarvestPlus to show where investments in zinc maize are likely 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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