Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Promoting Bio-Fortified Crops

HarvestPlus, an international organization, is promoting crop bio-fortification.

It is a programme of the Consultative Group on international Agricultural Research (CGIAR) like beans, cassava, maize, rice, wheat and sweet potatoes through bio-fortification.

The bio-fortification process will breed new varieties of staple food crops that provide vitamins and minerals.

Mrs. Atinuke Lebile, one of the beneficiaries of the project and the co-founder of Cato Foods & Agro-allied Global concepts, Ibadan, said her firm has started cultivating vitamin A cassava crops, vegetables, and rice after 3 years that she bought into the idea of bio-fortification.

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Lebile is said to be at the forefront of those clamouring that farmers should start planting bio-fortified vitamin A yellow cassava in order to reduce deficiency of vitamin A in people. 

The C.E.O of HarvestPlus, Postma, said the organization through research-backed bio-fortification techniques hopes to tackle killer conditions like night blindness that affects two billion people worldwide.

On how her organization will reach one billion people by 2030, Postma said, “To scale up to reach these people in 2030, 200 million has been estimated for the project and there is also the need to input more effort in the next five years into completing the research discovery works of these crops.”

She added that funds would be given to IITA to research more on other crops like cassava and sweet potatoes.

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Postma noted that bio-fortified crops which have vitamin A could take up to six years to develop but that is necessary for people to plant them because vitamin A according to her is one of the vital building blocks that strengthens the immune system which makes children and adults less vulnerable to some killer diseases such as malaria, pneumonia, and diarrhea.

The Country Manager of HarvestPlus, Dr. Paul IIowa, has charged food companies to fortify their food because statistics say 100 Nigerian children and six women are being lost every hour to malnutrition.

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