Posts Tagged ‘CGIAR’

Biofortified crops address the world’s ‘hidden hunger’

Biofortified ‘gorilla beans’, rich in protein, iron and zinc, have been bred to target malnutrition in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Biofortification enhances the vitamin and mineral content of staple crops that people eat every day. Photo by CIAT.

Feeding the world is about more than just satisfying stomachs. Food scientists and nutritionists have long recognized that the foods we eat not only need to fill us up, but nourish our bodies as well.

The problem of ‘hidden hunger’ — deficiencies in essential vitamins and minerals — continues to pose serious threats to populations and economies around the world. A lack of micronutrients like iron, zinc and vitamin A in diets can lead to blindness, disease or even death, particularly for women and for children under the age of five.

Reflections on the global impact of biofortification

by Carolyn Cowan

Over two billion people across the world suffer from hidden hunger, the consumption of a sufficient number of calories, but still lacking essential nutrients such as vitamin A, iron or zinc. This can lead to severe health damage, blindness, or even death, particularly among children under the age of five. Furthermore, a recent FAO report estimates the number of undernourished people worldwide at over 800 million, with severe food insecurity and undernourishment increasing in almost all sub-regions of Africa, as well as across South America.

GENNOVATE special issue draws on the voices of women and men in agriculture

by Carolyn Cowan

A diverse and inclusive agricultural framework can be fostered by involving both women and men from different socioeconomic backgrounds and age groups in agricultural innovation interventions. Such an approach can ensure equitable access to resources while stimulating local innovation and development outcomes. Achieving this aim is a complex task. Gender-focused agricultural research for development can inform and streamline the process.

A special issue of the Journal of Gender, Agriculture and Food Security comprises a set of six studies drawing on data collected for the GENNOVATE initiative – a CIMMYT-led, cross-CRP global comparative research initiative, part-funded by the CGIAR Research Program on Maize (MAIZE). The initiative gathered the perspectives and experiences of over 7000 women and men from diverse backgrounds and varied age groups in 137 rural communities across 26 countries during individual interviews, focus groups and community discussions. The special issue reveals a lot about what influences women’s and men’s agency and empowerment to utilize agricultural innovations to improve their livelihoods.

A maize farmer collects her harvest. Photo: P.Lowe/CIMMYT

Central to the studies is the concept of gender ‘norms’ which are social rules surrounding women’s and men’s expected roles and behaviors. Such ‘norms’ can influence a person’s ability to access, adopt, adapt and benefit from innovations in agricultural and natural resource management.

Toxin-producing fungal strains can now be detected in maize field soils with a new technique

by Alexander Loladze and Carolyn Cowan

Maize ear infected with Aspergillus flavus. Photo: Maize Pathology Laboratory/CIMMYT

A novel approach allows the detection of aflatoxin-producing fungi in maize fields. A new study explains the technique and how it was tested. “Detection of Aflatoxigenic and Atoxigenic Mexican Aspergillus Strains by the Dichlorvos–Ammonia (DV–AM) Method” was developed in collaboration between scientists from the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), the Japanese National Agriculture and Food Organization (NARO) and Fukui University of Technology, funded in part by the CGIAR Research Program on Maize (MAIZE).