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Meridian Institute

Biofortification Pioneers Win World Food Prize

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The 2016 World Food Prize was announced yesterday at the U.S. State Department in Washington, DC. Four people – Dr. Maria Andrade of Cape Verde, Dr. Robert Mwanga of Uganda, and Dr. Jan Low and Dr. Howdy Bouis of the United States – are being honored for their achievements to develop and promote biofortified crops. Drs. Andrade and Mwanga of the International Potato Center (CIP) are credited with developing the single most successful example of micronutrient and vitamin biofortification – the orange-fleshed sweet potato. Dr. Low, also of CIP, conducted nutrition studies and developed programs that convinced almost two million households in 10 African countries to plant, purchase and consume this nutritionally fortified food.
Dr. Bouis, the founder of HarvestPlus at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), pioneered the implementation of a multi-institutional approach to biofortification as a global plant breeding strategy. As a result of his leadership, crops such as iron and zinc fortified beans, rice, wheat and pearl millet, and Vitamin A-enriched cassava, maize and orange-fleshed sweet potato are being tested or released in over 40 countries.
In spring 2016, Meridian had the privilege of conducting an “Independent Assessment of Options and Key Issues to Scale HarvestPlus.” Meridian was asked by the IFPRI Board of Trustees to conduct in-depth interviews with country partners, researchers, private-sector actors, donors, and other HarvestPlus stakeholders to solicit advice on the functions and factors that will be critical to the program’s success over the next 5- to 15-year period. HarvestPlus seeks to reach 100 million people by 2020 and one billion by 2030. The assessment examined new, innovative institutional arrangements involving public private partnerships for research, delivery, and finance as well as strategies for greater collaboration with partner countries.  Meridian conducted 34 not-for-attribution interviews with people in 17 countries, snthesized the findings, and presented key themes and issues to the IFPRI Board of Trustees and the Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) Board of Trustees.
Meridian commends the Laureates for their tremendous work to fight hidden hunger and reduce malnutrition. Thanks to their vision, dedication, and tenacity, over 10 million people are positively impacted by biofortified crops. Through partnerships such as those being developed by HarvestPlus, several hundred million more may see the benefit of enhanced nutrition and health in the coming decades.