Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Second Global Conference on Biofortification

31 March 2014 - 2 April 2014. Kigali. The Second Global Conference on Biofortification aimed to deepen engagement with major actors in the global effort to improve nutrition and public health through nutrient-rich crops. Nearly 300 delegates attended the Conference.

The global consultation on biofortification brought together high-level stakeholders from government, business and civil society. The objective was to foster greater inclusion of biofortification in programs, policies and marketing to ensure its sustainability. To facilitate this, the conference :
  1. Provided evidence on the nutritional impact and cost-effectiveness of biofortification and how it complements existing approaches;
  2. Highlighted progress and successes in delivering biofortified crops in cooperation with current partners and champions;
  3. Identified constraints and challenges in scaling-up and mainstreaming biofortification, develop solutions, and obtain high-level commitments.
The consultation included select keynote addresses, but took the form of interactive roundtable discussions to generate new ideas and commitments.

Howarth Bouis, Director HarvestPlus

The Honorable Agnes Kalibata, Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources, Rwanda


Nigeria's Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Akinwumi Adesina, breaks down the steps needed to scale-up nutrition and get more nutritious foods to millions


In its first five years (2004-2008), HarvestPlus (a Challenge Program jointly managed by IFPRI and CIAT) and its multi-disciplinary collaborators focused on developing biofortification as an effective strategy—setting nutritionally-relevant targets for crops, screening seed banks around the globe for existing varieties with elevated micronutrients, initiating conventional plant breeding, and establishing protocols and tools for measuring micronutrient levels.

 The next five years (2009-2013) involved a more focused effort to develop seven nutrient-rich crops for testing and deployment in eight target countries:

  • Initial crops: 1) Vitamin A: cassava, maize, sweet potato; 2) Iron: beans, pearl millet (which also are higher in zinc); and 3) Zinc: rice, wheat (which also are higher in iron) 
  • Target countries (where HarvestPlus has on-ground experts, co-housed in CGIAR Centers): Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of Congo, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Rwanda, Uganda, and Zambia 

Note: Additional nutrient-rich varieties include cowpeas, lentils, sorghum, banana/plantain, pumpkin, and Irish potato—some of which have already been released in target or other countries.

The Global Consultation in Kigali marked the start of the next critical phase of work to accelerate deployment of nutrient-rich crops in target countries (where 1.5 million farming households already are growing them) and expand access to these nutritious food crops in other countries where they are widely produced and consumed and where micronutrient deficiencies are prevalent.

Considerable effort will also be needed to further improve current nutrient-rich crops and develop new varieties, as well as to consolidate evidence of their nutritional impact and cost-effectiveness. Public and private stakeholders from health, nutrition, agriculture, education and other key sectors—nationally, regionally and internationally—have important roles to play moving forward, particularly as HarvestPlus plans to limit its field presence to only one or two additional countries.

5 May 2014. Extrusion processing could improve African food security. 
Food processing techniques could be key to solving the problem of food insecurity in Africa, researchers say.
While locally grown grains such as sorghum, millet, rice, maize and teff are the staple of many African peoples’ diets, these grains lack good quality protein. However, researchers have discovered that these food crops respond well to extrusion processing.

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