HarvestPlus and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), through their joint Commercialisation of Biofortified Crops (CBC) Programme, co-hosted a webinar on August 25, 2021 that focused on the role of SMEs in scaling nutrient enriched staple crops through biofortification. During the webinar, several SME partners from Asia and Africa shared their experiences operating in biofortified value chains, and participated in a lively discussion about key challenges and opportunities they see in the sector. 

These crops are a proven agriculture-based strategy tailored to meet the nutritional needs of smallholder farming families and others dependent on staple foods, and this should be part of the food system transformation solutions. These are varieties of rice, wheat, maize, beans, and other common staples that have been conventionally bred to contain nutritionally significant levels of iron, zinc or vitamin A – all micronutrients that are essential for maintaining good health and ensuring proper mental and physical development in children. These crops are proven to improve nutrition and health outcomes when eaten regularly. 

Small and Medium Enterprises–including seed producers, farmers, aggregators and processors–are critical actors in ensuring access to food and nutrition security particularly for the poorest consumers. They integrate markets thereby reducing poverty and hunger; create opportunities that improve equity; innovate and scale solutions for nutrition and sustainability.

The webinar included the following speakers and panelists: 

Through the CBC Programme, HarvestPlus and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition are working with multiple partners to catalyze commercial markets for biofortified seeds, grains, and food products in six countries with pervasive levels of malnutrition: Bangladesh, Kenya, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Tanzania. 

By developing commercial markets for biofortified crops that are primarily grown by smallholder farming families, the CBC Programme will help create a sustainable basis for improving diet quality and tackling hidden hunger among both farmers and consumers.

By 2022, the Programme aims to reach 190.6 million people with biofortified foods and food products, and 571.8 million people by 2028. The Programme is funded by German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, and the Government of the Netherlands.