Bio-fortified crops antidote to malnutrition – Nutritionist

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The Head of Nutrition, Harvestplus Ibadan, Dr Erick Boy-Gallego, on Thursday, said the intake of bio-fortified crops (vitamin A cassava, vitamin A maize and orange sweet potato) could tackle malnutrition, especially in children.

Boy-Gallego said this at the ongoing 2019 Nutritious Food Fair, organised by Harvestplus and partners at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan.

Harvestplus and partners use a process called bio-fortification to conventionally breed
staple food crops that are richer in essential vitamins and minerals.

The nutritionist emphasised that bio-fortification was an evidence-based intervention to tackle micronutrient malnutrition in Nigeria and the world at large.

He added that bio-fortification, through researchers’ findings, was a complementary tool in the nutrition intervention’s toolkit to fight malnutrition.

According to him, bio-fortified vitamin A maize can provide 50 percent of daily vitamin A needs, while vitamin A cassava can provide 100 percent of daily vitamin A needs, and iron beans 80 percent of daily needs.

Iron pearl millet improves the iron status and cognitive performance in adolescents, vitamin A maize improves night vision of children and orange sweet potato improves vitamin A deficiency status, while reducing diarrhoea in children.

Bio-fortified crops are high-yielding and are virus resistant, unlike other ordinary crops that poor farmers grow and eat, as they requires minimum
behaviour change and causes no loss in crop yield.

“Bio-fortification is strongly endorsed as a nutritional strategy by African Development Bank and other agriculture and health stakeholders across the globe.”

Harvestplus improves nutrition and public health by developing and promoting bio-fortified food crops that are rich in vitamins and minerals.

It also provides global leadership on bio-fortification evidence and technology, while its staple crops are naturally bio-fortified and not genetically modified.