Improving nutrition through biofortification: A review of evidence from HarvestPlus
This review article (PDF) in Global Food Security Journal summarizes key evidence from the HarvestPlus program on how biofortification has helped improve nutrition worldwide between 2003 and 2016. Delivery experiences in various target countries (Bangladesh, DR Congo, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Rwanda, Uganda, and Zambia) are discussed, as well as farmer and consumer adoption. Since 2003, HarvestPlus and its partners have demonstrated that this agriculture-based method of addressing micronutrient deficiency through plant breeding can be successful. More than 20 million people in farm households in developing countries are now growing and consuming biofortified crops. The article highlights a few common themes that have emerged among successful delivery programs. First, multiplication of sufficient planting material is a crucial first step. Second, demonstration trials have been key in driving demand at the farm level. Third, nutrition messaging aimed at both men and women supports production and consumption. Fourth, multi-stakeholder platforms (often combining public, private, and civil society actors) have been found to be crucial in scaling up the early uptake and success of biofortified crops. According to the authors, attention should now shift to an action-oriented agenda for scaling biofortification to improve nutrition globally. To reach one billion people by 2030, they argue three key challenges need to be addressed: mainstreaming biofortified traits into public plant breeding programs; building consumer demand; and integrating biofortification into public and private policies, programs, and investments. While many building blocks are in place, institutional leadership is needed to continue to drive towards this ambitious goal.
This issue was also discussed during the stakeholder workshop “Micronutrient management for improving harvests, farmers’ incomes, human nutrition, and the environment”.