HarvestPlus Named Semi-Finalist in MacArthur Foundation Competition for $100million grant

   HarvestPlus is one of the eight 100& Change semi-finalists to receive $100 million grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

    The competition seeks bold solutions to critical problems of our time.

     The World Health Organization estimates that malnutrition contributes to 3.1 million deaths of children under-five every year, almost half of all deaths for that age group.

   “We know that good nutrition is an essential building block for growth and development. Sadly, many children in rural Africa and other parts of the developing world still suffer from the devastating effects of ‘hidden hunger.’ They may not be visibly hungry, but their basic diets lack the essential micronutrients for good health,” says HarvestPlus Chief Executive Officer, HarvestPlus, Beverly Postma.

   “HarvestPlus has already reached 20 million people worldwide and our goal is to reach one billion people by 2030. We can do this only with the help of partners, such as the MacArthur Foundation,” she added.



HarvestPlus Recognized As Global food Innovator

HarvestPlus has been selected as a 2017 LAUNCH Food Innovator for its pioneering work in making staple food crops more nutritious and available to rural communities around the world.

HarvestPlus, along with its global partners, develops new, more nutritious varieties of sweet potatoes, beans, maize, cassava, pearl millet, wheat and rice. These improved varieties provide higher amounts of vitamin A, iron, and zinc — three of the four micronutrients identified by the World Health Organization as most lacking in diets globally.

   “Biofortification is incredibly beneficial to vulnerable groups in rural farming communities, such as women and children,” said HarvestPlus CEO Bev Postma, adding that HarvestPlus aims to reach one billion people with biofortified staple crops by the year 2030.

“With the support of groups such as LAUNCH, we can realize our vision of a world free from the devastating social and economic effects of hidden hunger,” she said.





HarvestPlus Hosts Over 150 Investors at Business Forum


—Targets 500,000MT Demand for Biofortified Crops and Foods In 2017

HarvestPlus hosted over 150 farmers, extension agents, food processors and marketers at the first edition of its bi-monthly business forum to stimulate increased investment and bridge the supply gap in the biofortified seeds and foods value chain.

    The forum was organized for stakeholders in the biofortified seeds and foods sector to share experiences, challenges and successes recorded in the course of commercializing vitamin A cassava and vitamin A maize in Nigeria.

    The deliberations at the forum is expected to foster strong commitment by investors to key into the various investment opportunities in the biofortified crops value chain and also have a ripple effect among smallholder farmers and medium scale investors, both of whom are expected to form farming clusters around processing centers for greater efficiency and profitability.

    Sharing his experience as a key player in the value chain, Provost, Federal College of Agriculture, Akure, (FECA), Dr. Samson Odedina, said the forum was timely as it was obvious that the demand for biofortified foods far exceeded supply.

   According to him, “In 2016, students and other investors in my College made well over N50 million ($158,730) in the sales of biofortified crops and foods. The demand for the products is growing. It is becoming evident that our production is not enough for the market. This is why this forum is important. We need everyone here and even more people to get involved.”

    HarvestPlus Country Manager, Dr. Paul Ilona, said the turnout of investors at the forum points to the growing adoption of biofortified crops by Nigerians. He added that this called for a marshal plan that would ensure the rural poor in Nigeria can access and afford biofortified crops and foods.

   “We project 500,000Mt demand for biofortified crops and foods in Nigeria in 2017. Small scale enterprises are short of flour to make combobites. Processors are in constant demand for roots. All these gaps require farmers with keen business acumen to spot and exploit. This must be done because the need to tackle micronutrient deficiency is rising by the day. We cannot afford to let malnutrition win this war,” he said.


   The next edition of the business forum holds on March 31 at FECA, Ondo State. It promises to engage even more stakeholders across the Nigeria. 






HarvestPlus Gets New CEO

HarvestPlus Gets New CEO


Harvestplus has appointed Beverley Postma as its new Chief Executive Officer.

She succeeds Dr. Howarth Bouis, the founder of the organisation and a 2016 World Food Prize laureate, and would lead Harvestplus’ strategy development and implementation, partner outreach and engagement, resource mobilization, and thought leadership.

HarvestPlus is a joint venture created by International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in 2003. The organization improves nutrition and public health by developing and promoting biofortified food crops that are rich in vitamins and minerals, and provides global leadership on biofortification evidence and technology.

In Nigeria, the organisation works with the Federal Ministries of Agriculture and Rural Development, and Health, as well as, other partners to deliver and disseminate nutrient-rich crops to over 1 million households. The efforts are geared to tackle the scourge of malnutrition, which, according to the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), claims the lives of 2300 children and 145 pregnant women in the country every day.

 Reacting to the appointment, the Director General of the International Food Policy Research Institute, Dr. Shenggen Fan, said, “We are extremely fortunate to have recruited Beverley Postma as the new CEO of HarvestPlus. She is a highly qualified candidate with a strong and varied background and a passion for uniting nutrition and agriculture to benefit millions of vulnerable people around the world. We are excited to have her leadership as HarvestPlus progresses to its next phase.

 Dr. Ruben Echeverría, Director General of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture, said Beverleys international experience and her familiarity with

food issues, innovation and multi-stakeholder partnerships are important assets for HarvestPlus and the global biofortification movement.

 Postma has 25 years of experience as a policy expert in International food systems, nutrition and food security. She comes to HarvestPlus after six years as founder and Executive Director of Singapore-based Food Industry Asia (FIA), a successful non-profit regional platform tackling food security, nutrition and regulatory harmonization.



Minister maps plan for food security, vitamin a cassava

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh


    Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbe, has disclosed avenues the Federal Government is exploring to ensure food is available for every Nigerian all year round, especially during dry seasons.

    He said that government has planned to dam some rivers and streams to encourage dry season farming and aquaculture as well as the establishment of cassava flour mills equipped with flash dryers to process high-quality odourlous cassava for domestic consumption and for export.Ogbe, who was represented by the coordinating director of the Nigeria Agriculture Quarantine Service, Dr. Vincent Isegbe, said this at the flag off of the youth engagement and enterprise development along cassava value chain and distribution of vitamin A cassava stems to farmers in Otukpo Benue State on Friday.

    Noting that there was need to explore opportunities in the cassava value chain, he said, “We are working with the
Angelina Ogbole Memorial Foundation, which is collaborating with HarvestPlus International to ensure the incorporation of essential micronutrients such as vitamin A, zinc and iron in our staple food crops.”



Akwa Ibom Partners

Partners in Akwa Ibom Charged On Impact, Standards

Following an impressive campaign in pushing for the adoption of vitamin A cassava in the state, Akwa Ibom State HarvestPlus partners have been urged to continue with the good work, ensure impact of the project spreads to neighbouring states and promote standardization.

   This was the resolution of the country office’s meeting with the Akwa Ibom State partners held last month to review activities in the past year and strategies for greater impact in the coming year.

   HarvestPlus’ Country Manager, Dr. Paul Ilona, charged the partners to ensure that their efforts cause the desired change in agricultural practices, nutrition and enterprise in the state, noting that much as there was need to expand to other states, there was need to further strengthen relations among partners in the state too.

   “Everybody needs to work together. If we don’t do so, we would run into serious problems. The dream at the outset in 2010 is that, by now, partners in the state would have started working with other states. We are committed to that and we hope that the partners would get there soon,” he said.

   Emphasising the need for up-to-date, real time data to track progress in the state, he said “we need real time data so as to be able to track and reach out to people beyond our domain, so as to effectively scale out the project.”

  The Director of Extension in the Akwa Ibom State Agricultural Development Project (AKADEP), Emmanuel Akpan, said the partners are committed to maintaining the high pace with which they have conducted their activities.

   He delighted in the fact that the United Kingdom’s Department of International Development (DFID) Market Development in the Niger Delta (MADE) in partnership with HarvestPlus Nigeria held training on techniques for using vitamin A cassava for women in pastries business.

   “We are delighted that, apart from Oyo State, we score high in HarvestPlus activities. We are hoping that we would have more of such trainings in future.”

    Akwa Ibom State University (AKSU) partner and cassava enterprise development specialist, Dr. Edna Akpan said partners in the state were expanding their network and are making in-roads in government circles, noting that healthy relations have been established with the state government to mainstream vitamin A cassava into the state’s programmes.


Success Story

Malnutrition: Vitamin A Weaning Formula To The Rescue

MALNUTRITION is an acute health challenge in developing countries, and has been described as a raging silent crisis. The condition not only limits the growth and development of children, it impacts on their wellbeing and ability to contribute meaningfully to society later in life. In Nigeria, the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) estimates that about 2300 children die daily from malnutrition, an indices that is alarming and calls for urgent attention.

   While government may be looking for a grand design to tackle the menace, Victor Sylvanus Udoh, is determined to take on the crisis head-on, starting from his home state, Akwa-Ibom. He runs Vig and Berry Production Company, which makes pro vitamin A weaning formula for children.

   Alarmed by the effects of malnutrition, he decided to tap into the nutritional content of vitamin A cassava to produce what he hopes would “tackle the challenge of malnutrition.”     

    “I went into business because I wanted to explore the opportunities in vitamin A cassava. It gave me the idea for the formula. Having a food that is high in vitamins and minerals and that satisfies hidden hunger is tremendous gift to our communities. My primary focus is the children, most of whom are malnourished. I saw vitamin A cassava as a solution to that challenge,” he averred.

    He said he has vitamin A cassava as the major ingredient for the formula, adding, “The ratio of vitamin A cassava that goes into the weaning formula depends on the volume of the production. I usually have a ratio of 1 to 2 to 3, combining it with cereal and other grains. I use vitamin A cassava as the sweetener and also as the major source of vitamin A. Besides that, the colour of the vitamin A flour enhances the colour of the finished product; it makes it more appealing. Many mothers say their children like how the product looks.”

  The major production activity required, according to him, is to make the product into the required standard and also reduce the anti-nutrients in the cereals and grains used in fortifying the formula.

   “When we use soybeans, we fry it before we add it to the baby weaning formula. We also balance it with other food substances such as protein, carbohydrate and vitamins,” he said.

    He has had to compete with conventional, artificial weaning formulas, but has devised a clear cut marketing strategy to win over pregnant and nursing mothers, cashing on the demand for natural, cheaper products.

   “The response to the product has been encouraging. Many parents complain that their children do not like artificial food substances, so they needed something natural. We take the products to health centers to introduce them to pregnant mothers when they come for antenatal classes. This is to tune their reasoning towards what they should use. We made them understand that the inputs are purely organic and that we don’t add any artificial substance,” he said.

  On the economics around the product, he said, “We grow the vitamin A cassava, which reduces the cost of production and makes the profit margin very high. In every one ton we produce, we make at least 30 percent profit. So, it is highly encouraging. In fact, with N10,000 investment, one can make about N20,000 profit.

  “The product is sold in Lagos and Port Harcourt. We send it to them and, in some instances, where they want to get into the production, we have been invited to train people in those states.

    The market is available, in as much as babies are born every day. Though the economy is tough and people may find it difficult going for the more expensive artificial products, which goes for about N1000, ours goes for N500 for 1kg. Depending on the eating habit of the child, it lasts for 10 days to one to two weeks.”

    He said the business is designed a manner that allows it to easily scale up and expand to accommodate more people in the production, as marketers and others involved in the chain of production are encouraged to learn how to make the product, noting, “everyone is carried along. The marketers are not only mandated to sell to people; they are encouraged to learn how to make the weaning formula.

   But Udoh is not only seeking to conquer the Nigerian market. After attending exhibitions and placing the product on the Internet, he has gotten requests for linkages with some International Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) involved with nutrition.

  “We want to improve on the packaging and get nod from the National Food and Drug Administration and Control Agency (NAFDAC). We also want to address issues of packaging working with our partners. With those, we would be on the right pedestal to scale up and meet international demands,” he said.   



Launching of Planting Season


On Saturday7th May 2016 HarvestPlus Nigeria in partnership with Federal College of Agriculture Akure (FECA) launched the 2016 planting season for biofortified vitamin A cassava and maize at Federal College of Agriculture Akure (FECA), Ondo state

Speaking at the event on the Updates made in the development and commercialization of vitamin A cassava and Maize in Nigeria, the Country Manager for HarvestPlus Nigeria, Paul Ilona explained the need for Nigerians to have access to nutritious foods through the consumption of biofortified foods.

He further explained that “No fewer than 2,200 children under the age of five die every day in Nigeria due to lack of these nutrients, to curtail this we must improve our nutrition”.

He added that the organisation’s partnership with the Federal College of Agriculture Akure (FECA) will help fast track the training students in the production of biofortified crops.

“Apart from vitamin A cassava and maize we are working to introduce other nutritious staple food crops like vitamin A plantain and banana to ensure which shall serve as channels to provide essential nutrients to Nigerians,” he explained.

Present at the event was the Governor of Ondo State His Excellency Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, represented by the State’s Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr Segun Ayerin, The Provost Federal College of Agriculture Akure (FECA), Dr Adeola Odedina, The Executive Secretary of Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN), Prof B.Y Abubakar, The Deji of Akure Kingdom, His Royalk Majesty, Oba Ajadetoyinbo Ogunlade Aladelusi (Odundun II).

Highlights of the event include the presentation of an awards to Governor of Ondo State His Excellency Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, represented by the State’s Commissioner for Agriculture and the The Deji of Akure Kingdom, His Royal Majesty, Oba Ajadetoyinbo Ogunlade Aladelusi (Odundun II) and the launching of bio-fort point of sale, processing center and biofort restaurant.


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