GAP Report Consultative Partners HarvestPlus and GAIN Working Together to Accelerate Access to Nutrient-Rich Staple Food Crops
October 15, 2019
Two billion people worldwide suffer from micronutrient deficiency because they cannot afford a diverse, nourishing diet. This “hidden hunger” makes them vulnerable to disease, disability, and even death. Solutions include vitamin and mineral supplements; commercially fortified foods; and an innovative approach known as biofortification. Using conventional crop breeding techniques, this process naturally enriches staple food crops with vitamin A, iron or zinc. Today, more than 300 varieties of vitamin A maize, cassava and sweet potato; iron-rich beans and pearl millet; high-zinc maize, rice and wheat, and other food crops, are available or in testing in 60 countries around the world. With leadership from HarvestPlus within the CGIAR system, and the efforts of hundreds of other partners, more than 50 million people in rural households have been reached. Clinical trials have proven that biofortified crops reduce diarrhea and pneumonia, improve night vision and cognitive and physical performance, and reverse iron deficiency.
HarvestPlus and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) are now partnering to bring the benefits of biofortification to millions more. Howdy Bouis, the founding director of HarvestPlus, and Lawrence Haddad, the current Executive Director of GAIN, are both World Food Prize laureates whose early research laid the groundwork for today’s global biofortification movement.
The partnership, which has received funding from the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, focuses on commercializing and expanding the reach and coverage of biofortified crops in Bangladesh, India, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Tanzania. The partnership draws on GAIN’s track record of working with private companies to create sustainable market models for nutritious foods, and HarvestPlus’ pipeline of biofortified crops; strong research and development partnerships; and delivery work to farmers.