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December 19th, 2019

Biofortification: A food-systems solution to help end hidden hunger

Published by HarvestPlus, FAO,

This brief (PDF) by FAO and HarvestPlus presents the latest evidence from rigorous research and implementation lessons learned on how biofortification can contribute to improving food systems and public health for all. Biofortified crops are those which have been nutritionally enhanced using agronomic practices, conventional plant breeding, or modern biotechnology. Over 16 years of peer-reviewed research has provided strong evidence that biofortified crops are well accepted by farmers and consumers, improve nutritional status and health of vulnerable populations, and are a cost-effective solution to help end hidden hunger. By 2018, an estimated 338 million people worldwide benefited from the production and consumption of biofortified crops and foods. Farming households in LMICs are reached by different channels: social delivery approach; commercial delivery; farmer-to-farmer diffusion. In many evaluations, biofortification has been shown to be highly cost-effective. In order to scale up biofortification sustainably, governments should integrate biofortification into their exisiting policies, programmes, regulations and standards. Policy inclusion would enable sustainable mainstreaming of biofortification. Policymakers can plan to include biofortification in future iterations and can review program budgets to determine what funding could be available. Governments can also incentivize the private sector to increase uptake of biofortification in their product portfolios. Monitoring efforts should track the availability, quality and nutrient content of biofortified crops and foods along the supply chain in order to ensure significant coverage of these crops/foods and that their micronutrient content remains at levels sufficient enough to have a measurable nutritional impact in individuals. Given that biofortification targets the main staple crops produced and consumed within a country, there is a potential to reach significant scale in adoption, and by extension, a significant reduction in micronutrient deficiency.

Curated from harvestplus.org