The government of Panama is prioritizing the development and delivery of nutritious biofortified crops as part of its Food and Nutritional Security Policy, according to Minister of Agricultural Development Augusto Valderrama.
The Minister spoke at a recent meeting hosted by the Institute of Agricultural Research of Panama (IDIAP), where results and objectives of AgroNutre, the country’s biofortification program, were presented. The meeting was also attended by representatives of the ministries of Social Development and Education, universities, and various social institutions.
AgroNutre Panama, a joint effort with HarvestPlus and several Panamanian partners, was launched in 2006 with the primary goal of benefitting small farmers through alliances with partnerships that promote the production and consumption of biofortified crop varieties. To date, seven biofortified crop varieties have been released in Panama, including varieties of iron beans, vitamin A maize, and vitamin A orange-fleshed sweet potato.
Dr. Arnulfo Gutiérrez, General Director of IDIAP, emphasized that national crop breeders will continue to support the program and will look to further strengthen the food basket of biofortified crops through the addition of pumpkin, cassava, and cowpea varieties—crops that have been requested by farmers. Valderrama voiced support for further research in biofortified crops.
Agronutre Panama was also recently recognized by Fontagro as a successful case of innovation in family agriculture, as part of the 2019 Successful Case Contest of Innovations in Family Farming.
HarvestPlus has been working for more than eight years in eight countries in Latin America and the Caribbean region, developing and promoting biofortified crops with multiple partners to tackle hidden hunger. During this time, more than 168,000 people have benefited from biofortification.
So far in Panama, seven varieties of nutritious biofortified crops have been released; in the last two years, about 4000 people have been reached in more than 76 municipalities around the country. Panama was one of the pioneering countries in the world to include biofortified crops in its Food and Nutritional Security plan.