An estimated three billion people globally cannot afford nutritious diets. Hidden hunger, or micronutrient deficiency, is one form of malnutrition where people do not get enough vitamins and minerals in their daily diets. People suffering from this hidden hunger may appear healthy but have weakened immune systems that are vulnerable to viral and bacterial infections (such as the novel coronavirus), while children affected by this form of malnutrition often have stunted physical and cognitive outcomes, and hence compromised futures. Micronutrient deficiencies are especially acute in developing countries among low-income farming families, where the need and potential impact of more nutritious diets is greatest.
One tested, proven, and ready-to-scale solution for improving diets is nutrient-enriched staple crops—such as iron beans, zinc wheat, and vitamin A maize (corn)—that are developed using conventional (non-GMO) breeding techniques to deliver higher levels of vitamin A, iron, and zinc. These crops address the needs of vulnerable rural populations, whose diets rely heavily on the staple crops they produce. Developed not only to be nutritious, but also high-yielding and climate-smart, these new crops improve farming households’ nutrition and food security, as well as resilience to various shocks to production (such as those caused by climate change) and health (such as viruses).
By the end of 2019, an estimated 8.5 million households (corresponding to 42.4 million people) were growing and consuming these nutrient-enriched staples as a result of HarvestPlus-led delivery efforts. Of these, 5.7 million households (an estimated 28 million beneficiaries) are in Africa, where, with your help, we can accelerate scale up for these crops to benefit 18 million households (or 90 million people) by 2022 and capacitate countries across the continent to become self-sufficient in the development and production these crops. HarvestPlus aims to catalyze resources and public, private, and humanitarian partnerships to scale up delivery of these nutrient-enriched crops to benefit 1 billion people globally by 2030. Together, we can empower farmers with a solution to help their families and communities to achieve food and nutrition security – sustainably, cost-effectively, and with minimum behavior change.
Charity, fund, non-governmental organization, religious institution, school, or other entity
As the COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to contain it continue to challenge countries around the world, the impact on global food and nutrition security has come to the fore. For vulnerable populations in low- and middle-income countries who have difficulty affording healthy and diverse diets in the best of times, there is now far greater risk of suffering from hunger, malnutrition, and illness.
In response, the staff of HarvestPlus have taken multiple measures to ensure that our primary beneficiaries—8.5 million smallholder farming families, with more than 42 million family members— continue to receive the nutrition, health, and livelihood benefits of their biofortified crops. We have adapted and innovated our support and facilitation practices so that our beneficiaries remain able to plant, cultivate, and harvest their crops, and sell surplus crop as needed. For example, we are leveraging technologies—such as mobile and digital tools, electronic media, and e-commerce platforms—to facilitate at-distance information sharing and training, and increase efficiencies in transactions along seed and food value chains.
Racial and Ethnic Injustice Response
Since its inception, HarvestPlus has made a concerted effort to ensure that Country Managers, who lead the field offices, are all recruited locally and represent local understanding and practices. HarvestPlus does not impose programs in countries where its programs are implemented, rather, it works closely with national governments, local NGOs, and others to ensure that the programs are aligned within local contexts. At the HQ level, more is being done to ensure that women and minorities are included in the leadership and organizational policies.