Bev Postma

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Bev Postma
Biofortification: An Agricultural Approach to Improving Nutrition

Staple food crops enriched to provide between 25% and 100% of daily requirements for vitamin A, iron, and zinc.

THE PROBLEM

More than 2 billion people in the world—1 in 3 people— do not get enough essential vitamins and minerals (micronutrients), such as vitamin A, zinc, and iron in their daily diets. Their condition is known as “hidden hunger” because those suffering from this type of undernutrition often appear healthy, but are actually more vulnerable to illness and infections. In severe cases, hidden hunger can leave children blind, stunted, or with a reduced IQ, and increase maternal mortality.

THE INNOVATION

HarvestPlus has developed a breakthrough innovation known as biofortification, a sustainable tool to fight malnutrition among rural families who subsist on nutrient poor staple food crops. With conventional plant breeding techniques, HarvestPlus enriches those plant varieties to provide 50%+ of daily requirements for vitamin A, iron and zinc without decreasing yield or increasing costs.

STAGE OF INNOVATION: Scale

THE VISION

Biofortification is a simple yet effective approach that is specifically designed to empower vulnerable people to improve their diets by growing and consuming more nutritious versions of the staple foods on which they rely for much of their daily intake. Starchy carbohydrates like rice, wheat, maize, cassava, beans, sweet potato and millet still constitute much of the food on the plate of subsistence farming families. While the ideal way to improve nutrition would be greater access to fruits, vegetables and protein, biofortification addresses the situation that currently prevails in the rural communities that still make up the majority of the population in most developing countries. With partners in the public and private sectors and civil society, we work directly with farmers to provide nutrition information and thereby generate demand for biofortified crops.

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