Please join HarvestPlus on Monday, Sept. 28 at 0900 EDT/1300 GMT for a webinar to hear biofortification practitioners discuss country-level examples of how their programs have responded to challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, key lessons learned, and the path forward to scaling up biofortification. 

The pandemic and ensuing disruptions have highlighted the value of conventionally bred biofortified staple crops as a practical, cost-effective way to deliver essential micronutrients to vulnerable rural communities in low- and middle-income countries—especially smallholder farming families who cannot afford or readily access nutritionally diverse diets. 

In the wake of income shocks and other COVID-19-related disruptions, many of these families are relying even more on relatively affordable staple crops for sustenance. Biofortification can deliver nutrition through these crops. 

In this webinar, there will be a lively discussion of these key questions:  

Monday, September 28

09:00-10:30 Eastern Daylight Time/13:00-14:30 GMT


Roger Thurow
Senior Fellow, Chicago Council on Global Affairs 
Author of “The First 1,000 Days” & “The Last Hunger Season”

Roger Thurow joined The Chicago Council on Global Affairs as senior fellow for global agriculture and food policy in January 2010 after three decades at The Wall Street Journal.   For 20 years, he served as a Journal foreign correspondent, based in Europe and Africa. In 2003, he and Journal colleague Scott Kilman wrote a series of stories on famine in Africa that was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in International Reporting.  Their reporting on humanitarian and development issues was also honored by the United Nations.  Thurow and Kilman are authors of the book, ENOUGH: Why the World’s Poorest Starve in an Age of Plenty.  Thurow is also the author of The Last Hunger Season: A Year in an African Farm Community on the Brink of Change and The First 1,000 Days: A Crucial Time for Mothers and Children – And the World.  He recently became a Scholar-in-Residence at Auburn University’s Hunger Solutions Institute.


Nora Tobin
Executive Director, Self-Help International

Nora Tobin joined Self-Help as Executive Director in January 2014 after earning a Master’s in International Peace Studies from Trinity College Dublin. Originally from Clive, Iowa, she earned a BA in Political Science and International Studies from Iowa State University. Nora is a recipient of the Des Moines Business Record’s 40 Under 40 Award and the ISU Outstanding Young Alumni Award. Tobin’s previous work focused on food security and youth development with the World Food Prize Foundation in Des Moines, Iowa, promoting public health and community development at the Office for Institutional HIV Prevention in Stellenbosch, South Africa, and administering international exchange programs between universities in the USA and Africa in Washington, DC. Tobin served as a Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholar in Dublin, Ireland, where her research focused on the impact of tourism on economic development in post-conflict areas.

Dr. Asrat Dibaba
Chief of Party, ENRICH-MNCH Program, World Vision Canada

Dr. Asrat Dibaba is a Medical Doctor and Public Health Specialist. Over the past two decades, he has worked in a wide variety of professional capacities in both government and non-government sectors. He earned his MD degree from Jimma University in Ethiopia and Master of Public Health from the University of Innsbruck in Austria. He has worked for the MoH, Government of Ethiopia, and World Vision in Ethiopia, Liberia, Cambodia, and recently in Kenya for East Africa Regional Office as Director for the Health, HIV/AIDS, and Nutrition Learning Center. He also has worked as the emergency health and nutrition programs manager of Save the Children USA in Darfur, Sudan. Dr. Asrat is currently the Chief of Party for a multi-country MNCH program called ENRICH at World Vision Canada. Part of Dr. Asrat’s work is providing overall leadership to the ENRICH consortium, promoting high impact models, results-based management, coherence and effective collaboration.

Sylvia Magezi
Uganda Country Manager, HarvestPlus

Sylvia Magezi is the Country Manager of the HarvestPlus Uganda program that promotes the uptake of biofortified crops, specifically orange sweet potato and iron bean along the value chain. Prior to this, Sylvia was Nutrition and Demand Creation Specialist with HarvestPlus Uganda, where she was in charge of the advocacy and nutrition promotion activities that catalyse the uptake of biofortified crops at community and national level. Prior to joining HarvestPlus, Sylvia worked with a consultancy that assessed the impact of food and nutrition security projects under ACDI /VOCA, and also a Nutrition Consultant in UNICEF.  She previously she worked as a food analyst in various food processing plants. Sylvia holds a BSc in Food Science and technology and a Masters in Applied Human Nutrition from Makerere University.

Simon Heck
Program Director, International Potato Center

Simon Heck is joined the International Potato Center (CIP) in 2012 as Deputy Program Manager for Sweetpotato in Africa. He took on leadership of the regional Scaling-Up Sweetpotato through Agriculture and Nutrition (SUSTAIN) project in 2013 and of the sweetpotato program in 2014. An anthropologist by training, Simon previously worked with the CGIAR’s WorldFish Center, IUCN, and DFID. Simon has extensive experience of leading research and development projects in agriculture, aquatic resources, and environmental management. He has been chair of the Agro-enterprise Learning Alliance for Eastern and Southern Africa and has contributed to policy and strategy development in several regional and national institutions in Africa. His disciplinary expertise is in social science and he has contributed to CGIAR research on resilience of social and ecological systems, food security, social development indicators, land tenure, and innovation systems. He has a PhD in Social Anthropology from Boston University, USA.

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