HarvestPlus-LAC focuses particularly on reaching the rural poor—who may not have access to other complementary interventions such as supplementation and fortification—with the biofortified food basket.
Breeding biofortified crops for LAC was previously coordinated by AgroSalud, based at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), but has now been integrated into the HarvestPlus portfolio. Additionally, the Government of Brazil supports BioFORT Brazil, coordinated by Embrapa, which focuses efforts on the poorest areas of northeast Brazil and aims to improve nutrition through school feeding programs.
BioFORT Brazil has been working on biofortification for more than 10 years and has released several biofortified varieties of maize, sweet potato, cowpeas, cassava, and beans. Additional research is ongoing for wheat and rice. The following table presents the varieties that have been released or are in testing, compared against their conventional counterparts.
In other LAC countries, varietal releases to date include iron beans in El Salvador, Panama, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. Additionally, promising varieties of zinc rice are being tested in Bolivia, Panama, and Nicaragua. Going forward, HarvestPlus-LAC will focus its attention on three priority countries—Guatemala, Haiti, and Nicaragua—where women and children suffer from the highest levels of vitamin and mineral deficiencies in the region.
HarvestPlus is capitalizing on existing seed networks and partnering with both public and private sector seed producers in zinc rice seed production and marketing. Currently, 12 nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and two seed producer associations comprising 250 small- and medium-scale seed producers are involved in zinc rice seed production and delivery. Breeder seed production began in the 2013/14 Boro season. During 2013–14, 1,000 farm demonstrations and distribution of minikits (seed packets) got underway. Training of various rice delivery stakeholders in marketing and sales is also being facilitated by HarvestPlus.
In Colombia, collaboration with the private sector offers a market for farmers’ biofortified crops, which are then processed into typical Colombian products, such as mazamorra and natilla, made from biofortified maize, as well as zinc rice noodles and vitamin A cassava and sweet potato flour. In Brazil, as part of a school feeding pilot project, 10 cities have added iron beans, vitamin A cassava, and OSP to their programs, ensuring that small-scale farmers who grow biofortified crops have a market for their excess production.
Partnerships are extremely important to the delivery efforts in LAC. They range from public sector partnerships, such as with the governments of Brazil and Panama that have created and support national biofortification programs, to private sector partnerships, such as with Pampa Ltd. Stakeholder workshops were held in late 2013 in Guatemala and Nicaragua; both countries have established national committees for the inclusion of biofortification in food security policies.
Visit LAC.HarvestPlus.org for more information and latest updates on biofortification in the region.
Vitamin A cassava, iron beans, zinc maize, zinc rice, vitamin A sweet potato
Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama