NIGERIA – HarvestPlus, a firm that coordinates Nigeria’s staple crop biofortification program in partnership with the federal government has embarked on an extensive program to promote the adoption of biofortified crops in the country.
According to partners, the move was part of efforts to achieve food and nutrition security across the country, as they explained that biofortified crops would enhance Nigeria’s food production
Dr. Yusuf Dollar, country manager of HavestPlus, made the announcement during a consultative policy workshop focused on climate-smart agriculture and biofortification.
The event was conducted in partnership with both the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security and the International Food Policy Research Institute.
Dr. Yusuf stressed that the consultative meeting had the sole aim of deepening understanding of biofortification at the state level, such that policymakers can make informed policies that would improve the uptake of biofortified crops.
“There is a need to bring together the new commissioner and permanent secretaries at the state level for them to learn so that when they get to their states, they can implement the strategies as well as create an enabling environment for the crops,” he said.
Dr. Yusuf explained that HavestPlus complements existing nutrition initiatives using biofortified staple crops, noting that these crops were made of high-level micronutrients and vitamins.
He explained that this technology can be easily disseminated among the vulnerable communities.
According to him, rural populations typically do not consume packaged foods, but with access to biofortified seeds, they can grow and consume crops that alleviate micronutrient deficiencies.
He outlined the staple crops to include maize, millet, cassava, potato, and rice, adding that the technology was the most cost-effective and could be taken to vulnerable groups in various communities.
He also mentioned that other than breading varieties for micronutrients, they also put into consideration the demand by farmers to have crops that can survive harsh weather conditions, and rainfall cessation among others.
Remarking, Reva Misra, Head of National Policy at HarvestPlus in Washington, DC, clarified that the workshop’s core objective is to facilitate essential policy reforms.
These reforms aim at expanding accessibility to climate-smart agriculture and biofortified resources, ultimately granting farmers access to nutrition and enhancing their resilience to climate change.