One of Brazil’s poorest states, Maranhão, is fully embracing biofortified crops in a bid to improve food and nutrition security. The state’s Secretary of Agriculture, Adelmos Soares, and the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation, Embrapa, today signed an agreement on a project to promote the crops.

“We are adopting biofortified crops with open arms,” says Soares. “We have a very large group with 90 new staff who are being trained on biofortification. We are also delivering seed, and through Embrapa Mid-North we are expanding the program.”

Maranhão is among the poorest states in Brazil, with the lowest rates of human development. With the new agreement, approved by Governor Flávio Dino, the signatories committed to mobilizing 8.5 million reals (nearly $3 million) for biofortified crop projects through the state agricultural system.

The project seeks to work with multiple biofortified crops, including vitamin A sweet potatoes, which will be distributed to schools through the state’s school feeding programs. Embrapa will work with HarvestPlus to mobilize 500,000 reals for the project.

“Maranhão lacks many things, from health to nutrition,” notes José Luiz Viana de Carvalho, co-leader of the BioFORT Network, which leads the promotion of biofortified crops in Brazil. “That is why it was the first state in which BioFORT began about ten years ago to invest in greater promotion activities. The signing of this agreement reaffirms the state’s and our commitment to improve nutrition and food security through biofortified crops.”

**The author is a freelance journalist with HarvestPlus in Brazil