Uganda Releases Biofortified Beans to Address Iron Deficiency Anemia
For Immediate Release
August 3, 2016

Kampala, August 3, 2016 –  The Government of Uganda released the first five high iron bean varieties that will provide more iron in the diets of millions of Ugandans who eat beans almost every day. Three of the released varieties are bush beans and two are climbers.

In Uganda, anemia, which is used as an indicator of iron deficiency, afflicts almost one out of two non-pregnant women and 50% of children under five. Consumption of high iron beans has been proven to increase iron percentage in blood. The new beans will complement other strategies that are currently in place to address iron deficiency.

Iron deficiency is one of the commonest micronutrient deficiencies in the world, impacting women, children, and infants most severely. Lack of iron can impair cognitive and physical development. Severe anemia, often caused by iron deficiency, increases risks to women during childbirth, and can cause death. Despite efforts to curb iron deficiency through supplements and fortified foods, iron deficiency remains the most widespread nutrition deficiency, affecting an estimated 1.6 billion people worldwide.

Dr. Stanley Nkalubo, head of bean research at the National Crops Resources Research Institute (NACRRI), said the iron beans will provide a cheap source of nutrition among poorer communities. “Beans are the main source of protein to the Ugandan population especially those in institutions such as schools, hospitals and prisons. Having them biofortified provides an excellent opportunity to add iron, an important micronutrient to these diets”.

The new high iron bean varieties were bred by the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) with support from HarvestPlus, USAID Feed the Future and International Center for Tropical Agriculture  (CIAT) using conventional breeding methods. Farmers who took part in the field trials liked them because of their yields, taste and preferred size and colors. Sylvia Magezi notes that mothers that have fed their children on the high iron beans have observed that their children are more active and perform better in school. 

During the next season, HarvestPlus and its partners will multiply the high iron bean varieties and support the dissemination through government institutions, non-government organizations and seed companies.   The seed packs will be branded so that any one purchasing them can easily tell what they are. 

The research for developing iron beans, and its delivery in Uganda was funded by HarvestPlus with support from USAID Feed the future.  Partners include IFPRI, CIAT and PABRA.


Videos and Photos
Breeding Iron Beans
Better Nutrition from High-Iron Beans (Music Video)
Farmers Speak: Iron Beans—Rwanda
Iron Beans (Storify)

Farmer Profiles
Gloria Uwizeyimana: Swapping for Better Nutrition in Rwanda
Joan Nkuliye: Biofortified Beans to Fight Hidden Hunger in Rwanda (Inter Press Service)
Jean Damascene Habimana: The House that Iron Beans Built

More About HarvestPlus

HarvestPlus improves nutrition and public health by developing and promoting biofortified food crops that are rich in vitamins and minerals, and providing global leadership on biofortification evidence and technology. HarvestPlus is part of the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health(A4NH). CGIAR is a global agriculture research partnership for a food secure future. Its science is carried out by its 15 research centers in collaboration with hundreds of partner organizations. The HarvestPlus program is coordinated by two of these centers, the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

Media Contact

Sylvia Magezi, Uganda Country Manager, HarvestPlus,, Tel: + 265 772 483 304
Dr Stanley Nkalubo, National  Bean Breeder, NARO,, Tel: + 256 781 618 247

Vidushi Sinha, HarvestPlus (Washington, D.C.),, + (1) 703 505 7438


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