Global nutrition program to revitalize efforts in Latin American and Caribbean

15 May, 2012 by (comments)

An exciting announcement from our partners, HarvestPlus:

Latin American countries (LAC) are about to benefit from a renewed effort to improve nutrition and public health. AgroSalud, a program that has been developing more nutritious staple food crops for LAC has been integrated into HarvestPlus, a global program that improves nutrition by developing food crops rich in minerals and vitamins through a process called biofortification.  “This now allows us to expand and align biofortification in LAC with our programs in sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia, making HarvestPlus a truly global program to improve nutrition” said HarvestPlus Director, Howarth Bouis.

Marilia Nutti, who coordinates BioFORT a biofortification program based at Embrapa (Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation), will now also coordinate the biofortification program for LAC. Nutti has built BioFORT into an extensive network of 150 Brazilian partners that included 11 Embrapa units, numerous universities, state government, NGOS, farmer associations and researchers. At least ten different nutrient-rich crop varieties have been released in Brazil including crops as diverse as cowpea and cassava.

“We are pleased to support Marilia Nutti in this new position,” said Pedro Antonio Arraes Pereira, President of Embrapa. “We are confident that under her leadership, HarvestPlus will be able to reproduce the success with biofortification that we’ve had in Brazil, throughout the LAC region.”

Nutti will now focus her attention Guatemala, Haiti and Nicaragua , which have some of the highest levels of vitamin and mineral deficiencies in the region.   Panama, where the government already supports biofortification, will also benefit from renewed efforts.  In line with the HarvestPlus approach, the program will include breeding and nutrition research, delivery of nutrient-rich crops to farmers, developing food products based on biofortified crops, and measuring impact.

The International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) where AgroSalud was formerly based, will continue to be an important partner to HarvestPlus in LAC.

HarvestPlus leads a global effort to make familiar staple foods that people eat every day more nutritious and available to those suffering from hidden hunger. We use a process called biofortification to breed higher amounts of vitamins and minerals directly into foods such as bean, cassava, orange sweet potato, rice, maize, pearl millet, and wheat. HarvestPlus is part of the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Improved Nutrition and Health. It is coordinated by the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

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HarvestPlus, c/o IFPRI 2033 K Street, NW, Washington, DC 20006 USA   Tel.: +1-202-862-5600 • www.harvestplus.org

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Filed Under: Crop diversity, Latin America and the Caribbean, Regions