USA – The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and HarvestPlus have formed a new partnership to enhance accessibility of bio-fortified crops to one billion consumers.

The new agreement involves US$35 million program that will focus on commercializing and expanding the reach and coverage of nutrient-enriched crops, such as zinc wheat, iron pearl millet, and iron beans.

“The logic of the partnership is compelling,” said GAIN’s Executive Director Dr Lawrence Haddad, recipient of the 2018 World Food Prize.

“HarvestPlus leads the global biofortification effort.

Together, we will leverage our linkages with the private sector to accelerate market uptake of some of the 290 biofortified varieties of 12 staple food crops that have been released or are being tested in more than 60 countries around the world.

Giving better access to hundreds of millions of consumers will make a big contribution to reducing life-damaging deficiencies of micronutrients.”

According to him, more than more than 50 million people living on farms have been reached with these new varieties and partners are looking to expand those benefiting tenfold via market channels.

The initiative would contribute to reducing life-damaging deficiencies of micronutrients.

GAIN indicates that vitamin and mineral deficiencies affect up to two billion people worldwide, causing weakened immune systems and avoidable health outcomes, including blindness, stunted development or diarrheal and respiratory infections, and cognitive and physical stunting.

While GAIN provides sustainable market models for nutritious foods, HarvestPlus has a pipeline of biofortified crops, and strong research and development partnerships, including delivery work to farmers.

Their collaboration on biofortification encourages use of agronomic practices to increase the micronutrient levels of food crops with an ultimate goal to improve dietary diversity.

Commenting on the development, Dr Howdy Bouis, founder and CEO of HarvestPlus said: “Biofortification is a scientifically underpinned, cost-effective and scalable solution to micronutrient deficiency.

“It also has the potential to offset the reduction of iron and zinc in staple crops due to climate change.”