The Government of India’s Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM) and HarvestPlus signed a landmark memorandum of understanding to strengthen their partnership for action against malnutrition by empowering women to build nutritious, sustainable agricultural food systems. This collaboration puts women at the forefront of agricultural and economic development and will result in a long-lasting positive impact on the livelihoods and health of the 28 million women farmers already reached by NRLM. The goal of the partnership is to enhance the livelihood and nutritional well-being of communities through increased access to proven agricultural-nutrition technologies.

NRLM is a flagship Ministry of Rural Development program for poverty reduction that builds the skills of women through self-help groups and federations of women, so they can fully participate in employment opportunities and be empowered to take actions for the benefit of their health, their families, and their communities. Working with HarvestPlus, these women farmers will also be supported to become producers of highly nutritious staple crops, and help build a sustainable supply of nutrient-enriched food for the country.

As a technical support agency for NRLM, HarvestPlus will strengthen food value chains with increased production of iron-enriched pearl millet and zinc-enriched wheat, effectively reducing micronutrient malnutrition. Across India, deficiencies in iron and zinc can lead to poor health outcomes and hold women and children back from realizing their potential.

This initiative follows Prime Minister Modi’s endorsement of biofortified crops and builds on the momentum being built by the United Nations to promote nutrition in this International Year of Millets.

Nutrition studies have proven that when biofortified crops are eaten daily, they can reverse micronutrient deficiencies, improve cognition and physical activity, reduce the burden of disease—factors essential for women to participate in productive endeavors and lead healthy, prosperous lives.

Knowledge exchange and capacity-building activities will equip farmers, farmer producer organizations, and self-help groups with the skills and knowledge needed to grow, produce, and utilize biofortified crops effectively. As part of this effort, linkages will be established to increase the supply of nutritious food products for institutional and commercial markets, including school feeding programs.

When women are empowered with voice, space, and resources to reach their full potential and earn their own livelihoods, communities, and countries benefit from economic growth and development. By working together, NRLM and HarvestPlus aim to make tangible progress towards eradicating malnutrition and promoting sustainable agricultural practices, ensuring a brighter tomorrow for generations to come.