AGRA scales up partnership to tackle nutrition deficiency by providing biofortified foods
AGRA has today announced a new partnership to tackle nutrition deficiency by providing biofortified foods to 1.2 million schoolchildren in Kenya, Tanzania and Malawi through school feeding programs.
Over the next three years, the partnership that is supported by the Rockefeller Foundation, will work with governments in the three countries to provide iron-rich beans and Vitamin-A maize to the schoolchildren. It aims to support the governments to progress towards the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG’s) on zero hunger, anchored on good nutrition through homegrown school feeding programs.
The program will strengthen production of biofortified crops and improve access to these foods through school feeding programs and other institutional markets in these countries.In Kenya, where 37% of children are either stunted or underweight, AGRA has already supported plant breeders and seed companies to release five high-iron and zinc-rich bean varieties. The new varieties have been well received by farmers and consumers due to high yields, resistance to environmental and pest challenges, and appealing sensory and culinary qualities.
Speaking during the launch of the partnership in Nairobi, AGRA Kenya Country Head, John Macharia said: “The need for highly nutritious food is more urgent now than ever before. Better nutrition is essential to attaining Sustainable Development Goals. Globally, over 2 million people suffer from extreme micronutrient deficiency, yet these micro elements are easily accessible by choice of the right seed to grow. Investment in nutrition returns $9 to the economy for every $1 spent.”
The Rockefeller Foundation’s Food Initiative representative, Ms.Betty Kibaara said: “By broadening school feeding programs and prioritizing access to highly nutritious food, the health of these children will be improved and bring about wider transformations in the food system. Through this partnership, we are dedicated to bringing an end to hunger and micronutrient deficiency, enhancing food systems, and sustaining livelihoods.’’
The program, a partnership between AGRA, HarvestPlus and the Governments will complement institutional procurement efforts in Kenya, strengthening the ecosystem for sustainable delivery of biofortified crops to school feeding programs and improving the nutrition and productivity of children in these countries