Webinar Shows How Biofortification and Fortification Reach the Most Vulnerable
January 27, 2021

HarvestPlus co-sponsored the first webinar in the Fortification Summit series focused on “Reaching the most vulnerable with fortified foods – consolidated gains in salt iodization, edible oil and biofortified crops.”

Moderated by prominent author, journalist and advocate with the Chicago Council on Global AffairsRoger Thurow, this webinar focused on success stories to demonstrate how these interventions can have a multiplier effect in reaching those most at risk of being left behind.

Featured speakers included:

  • Victor Aguayo, Associate Director and Global Chief of Nutrition, Programme Division, UNICEF
  • Werner Schultink, Executive Director, Iodine Global Network 
  • Lamine Gueye, Helen Keller International West Africa Regional Food Fortification Manager
  • Alex Marco, Helen Keller International Program Adviser Cameroon
  • Sakile Kudita, Zimbabwe Country Manager, HarvestPlus
  • Anahita Dhondy, Indian Chef and Member of the Chef's Manifesto

There were many interesting examples shared by the speakers:

Sakile Kudita, Zimbabwe Country Manager of HarvestPlus, shared how much biofortification has helped the country: currently, 300,000 Zimbabwean households are growing biofortified crops that help prevent the risk of iron and vitamin A deficiency. The crops are vitamin A maize and orange sweet potato, and iron beans. A link to her presentation can be viewed here. 

Kudita explained that biofortification is a powerful nutrition strategy for reaching smallholder farming families because its adds nutrients to staple crops that are already widely grown and consumed, and are most accessible and affordable to these families. At the policy level, Kudita urged African governments to use farm input subsidy programs to incentivize farmers to grow more-nutritious crops.

Cameroon is a big food producer but Alex Marco, the Helen Keller International Program Adviser for Cameroon, explained that it was difficult to convince politicians and decision-makers of the need for fortified foods. Advocacy is key for influencing decision-makers and salt companies supporting this work.

Chef Anahita Dhondy of India highlighted that chefs hold the power to advocate for healthy, nutritious, delicious foods. The Chef Manifesto Area 8 focuses on nutritious food that is accessible, affordable for all. She also explained the benefits of millet, a nutritious and sustainable crop.

The webinar sparked dynamic discussions for stimulating interest, awareness and investment in large-scale food fortification (LSFF) and biofortification, leading toward the UN Food Systems Summit in September 2021 and the Tokyo Nutrition for Growth Summit in December 2021. 

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