On December 11, HarvestPlus presented in front of a live audience including members of the MacArthur board and other donors as one of four finalists for 100&Change, a competition for a single $100 million grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The global competition seeks to identify and support organizations that are working on solving society’s biggest problems. HarvestPlus delivered a convincing case as to why its work provides a viable and much needed solution to one of the world’s greatest challenges — hidden hunger.
“Hidden hunger occurs because hundreds of millions of people rely upon basic, staple crops like corn and cassava as their main source of food. Foods like vegetables and proteins are just not affordable and the price gap is growing, not shrinking.” said HarvestPlus CEO Bev Postma during the presentation. “I can't bear the fact that up to half a million mothers will watch their children go blind this year just because they don’t have enough vitamin A in their diets.”
Joining Postma on the stage was Dr. Eliab Simpungwe, Country Manager, HarvestPlus Zambia. He shared stories from his childhood in Zambia, which helped the audience grasp the importance of scaling up biofortified crops in Africa.
“Rates of malnutrition in Zambia have not changed much since the early 90s. 40% of children are stunted, and one in two preschool children are deficient in vitamin A,” said Simpungwe in an eloquent plea to the audience. “That’s why I was so passionate about joining HarvestPlus when I learned that maize, a food I have eaten every day of my life, three times a day, could just as easily deliver vitamin A to these families.”
After the presentation, the HarvestPlus delegation led breakout sessions where attendees could ask questions directly in a more intimate environment, and get a deeper sense of our work to eliminate hidden hunger. Attendees were given the opportunity to see, touch and smell actual biofortified crops such as vitamin A maize, sweet potato and cassava and iron beans. The display included growing plants and harvested and processed foods. HarvestPlus also took advantage of this opportunity to feature a new animated video that explains how biofortification works and the role it can play in reducing micronutrient malnutrition across the planet.
HarvestPlus is currently reaching 26 million people around the world with these more nutritious crops, and with the help of the MacArthur grant, hopes to reach 100 million people in Africa by 2022 and 1 billion worldwide by 2030.
Watch HarvestPlus’ live presentation.
The winner of the 100&Change competition will be announced on December 20, 2017.