Over the past five years, HarvestPlus Bangladesh has made significant progress in reaching low-income rural families with zinc rice. By the end of 2017 the total number of zinc rice growing and consuming households had reached 1.26 million.
“In a country where 99% of people eat rice every day and nearly 40% of children are stunted due to a lack of zinc in their diets, this biofortified food is a major breakthrough,” says Bangladesh Country Manager Dr. Khairul Bashar.
These results garnered the attention of PRAN, the largest food distribution company in Bangladesh, which agreed to purchase zinc rice directly from farmers in northern Bangladesh. The pilot was such a success that PRAN entered into a formal partnership with HarvestPlus to expand the project to 120,000 farmers and to sell zinc rice through their distribution network.
“Everything we do focuses on our main goal: improving the health of vulnerable children and women,” says Dr. Bashar. “Farmers are eager to participate because the opportunity to sell their zinc rice surplus to the largest food distributor in the country gives them a predictable source of income over the long term.”
Consumers living in rural areas and purchasing food from shops where PRAN sells can also benefit from the added nutrients. The company’s sales to other countries around the world could allow even more families to benefit from biofortification.