Climate change and other global crises have posed ongoing shocks to food systems that disrupt supply chains, interrupt and reduce incomes, and raise the price of food—exacerbating malnutrition. Women and children, who have higher nutrient needs, are especially susceptible to dietary deficiencies and inequitable social norms that lead to life-long negative impacts on development and health.
With funding support from the Government of Canada, the “Expanding Nutrients in the Food System” project will increase the consumption of nutritious foods, especially among women, girls, and children under five years of age. It will also increase women’s income by empowering them with agronomic skills and entrepreneurial capacity. The project will provide access to biofortified crops to over 11 million more vulnerable women, men, and children in food insecure regions across Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Uganda, and Zimbabwe, and will improve their nutrition security and livelihoods, and build healthier futures.
The project will use evidence-based agricultural-nutrition technology to help transform food systems in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Uganda, and Zimbabwe to equitably deliver added nutrients and increase the adoption of climate-adapted and nutrient-enriched seeds that are more resilient in the face of inevitable shocks. This can only be achieved through the promotion of gender equality at household, community, and national levels.
Through the Expanding Nutrients in the Food System project, HarvestPlus and its partners will:
- Facilitate smallholder farmer access to affordable and nutrient-dense planting material for biofortified zinc wheat, vitamin A maize, iron beans, and more;
- Encourage the production of high-quality certified and quality-declared biofortified seeds, especially by community-based women-owned seed businesses;
- Train members of community seed producer groups and smallholder farmers on how to prioritize women’s needs and roles in their communities as farming, nutrition, and business leaders;
- Empower smallholder farmers and community-based seed businesses to produce biofortified seeds and crops, and increase their knowledge of their agronomic, nutrition, and health benefits;
- Prioritize the inclusion of biofortified crops and foods in public seed and food distribution programs; and
- Link SME owners and smallholder farmers to markets and programs where they can sell nutrient-enriched foods and products, and empower them with the business skills to do so.
This four year project, running from 2023 – 2027, builds on support provided by the Government of Canada between 2020 – 2022 for an emergency pandemic response program, An Integrated Food Systems Approach to Build Nutrition Security, which allowed HarvestPlus to safeguard livelihoods in six countries where urgent action was needed to prevent an emerging nutrition crises brought about by COVID-19. It is part of the Government of Canada’s investment in activities that are contributing to the attainment of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Expanding Nutrients in the Food System will scale and commercialize biofortification for sustainable food systems transformation, centered in gender equitable nutrition resilience and climate adaptation.