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Meridian Institute

Independent Assessment of Options and Key Issues to Scale HarvestPlus

Related: Agriculture and Food Systems

Photo credit: HarvestPlus

The HarvestPlus program was launched in 2004 as a joint venture between the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT). Its purpose is to develop and disseminate biofortified (e.g., micronutrient-rich) varieties of staple food crops to reduce undernutrition. The crops include iron-fortified beans, vitamin A maize, and zinc rice, among others. More than 2 million farm families are now growing biofortified crops, and approximately 15 million people are consuming them. Pilot efforts in key geographies around the world indicate that the HarvestPlus model is viable but will require innovative partnerships with large and small companies, national agriculture research programs, NGOs, and others to achieve scale. HarvestPlus has ambitious plans to reach 1 billion producers and consumers by 2030. 

Given the success of HarvestPlus and plans to scale its operations and reach, the IFPRI Board of Trustees requested an objective external assessment of key issues that need to be taken into account in this next phase of work. Issues that were explored included: risk management (e.g., intellectual property rights, regulatory requirements, operational and management risks, and reputational issues), public–private partnerships (including for innovative finance), and new institutional arrangements for the program (including commercialization activities) that would support its growing focus on dissemination.


In the spring of 2016, 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 success over the next 5- to 15-year period.


Meridian’s interviews provided an independent view of the critical issues that could enhance or undermine HarvestPlus’ ability to achieve significant scale. Interviewees included: HarvestPlus staff and Program Advisory Committee members, IFPRI and CIAT leadership and staff, others knowledgeable about the HarvestPlus program, as well as experts in agricultural development, biofortified crop research and development, seed systems, and value chain and market development. Meridian conducted 34 not-for-attribution interviews with people in 17 countries over a seven-week period, synthesized the findings, and presented key themes and issues to the IFPRI Board of Trustees and the CIAT Board of Trustees.


Photo credit: HarvestPlus


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