by Carolyn Cowan
Biofortification is at the forefront of efforts to address hidden hunger, the consumption of a sufficient number of calories, but still lacking essential nutrients such as vitamin A, iron or zinc. Biofortification increases the amount of vitamins and minerals in a crop through conventional plant breeding or agronomic practices, and can generate measurable health and nutrition improvements in consumer populations. Researchers from the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) have recently published two studies that comprehensively review current breeding strategies for biofortification of maize with zinc and provitamin A that provide a working outline for maize breeders. The provitamin A study was developed with researchers from the University of Agriculture Faisalabad, Pakistan.
by Jennifer Johnson
On World Food Day, October 16, the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) joins the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and partners around the world in their call to realize Sustainable Development Goal 2: Zero Hunger by 2030. Learn how CIMMYT, HarvestPlus and Semilla Nueva are working together to use biofortified zinc-enriched maize to reduce malnutrition in Guatemala, an important component of Goal 2.
46 percent of children under five in Guatemala suffer from chronic
malnutrition. More than 40 percent of the country’s rural population is
deficient in zinc, an essential micronutrient that plays a crucial role
in pre-natal and post-natal development and is key to maintaining a
healthy immune system. CIMMYT, HarvestPlus and Semilla Nueva are working
together to change this, through the development and deployment of the
world’s first biofortified zinc-enriched maize.
By Jennifer Johnson
Tortillas made of zinc-enriched biofortified maize. Photo: HarvestPlus.
The first zinc-enriched maize varieties developed specifically for farmers in Guatemala were released this month as part of efforts to improve food and nutrition security in a country where over 46 percent of children under five suffer from chronic malnutrition.
by Jennifer Johnson
Left to right: Miguel Lengua, director general of Maxi Semillas S.A.S; Bram Govaerts, Latin America regional director at CIMMYT; Martin Kropff, CIMMYT director general; Howdy Bouis, interim HarvestPlus CEO; and Felix San Vicente, CIMMYT maize breeder at the launch of new biofortified zinc maize. Photo: Jennifer Johnson/CIMMYT.
A new zinc-enriched maize variety was released in Colombia on February 23 to help combat malnutrition in South America.
Zinc is an essential mineral that plays an important role in human development, but is not naturally produced by humans. Zinc deficiency can lead to impaired growth and development, respiratory infections, diarrheal disease and a general weakening of the immune system. In Colombia, an average of 22 percent of the population is affected by zinc deficiency. However in certain regions, such as the pacific coast and Amazonia, up to 65 percent of the population is deficient in zinc.