Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals that are essential for children to grow, learn, and build healthy immune systems. One in three people in the world suffer from a hidden hunger caused by a lack of micronutrients (such as vitamin A, zinc, and iron) in their diets. Hidden hunger also affects adults and can lead to repeated bouts of illness and weakened ability to work, as well as increase the risk of women dying during childbirth.
A diverse diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, or animal products usually provides enough micronutrients. However, millions of people, mostly in poorer countries, rely upon staple foods such as rice or maize that fill up their stomachs but do not have sufficient micronutrients. Foods that are more nutritious are often too expensive or simply unavailable.
Now, through a strategy called biofortification, HarvestPlus and its partners are breeding and disseminating nutrient-rich varieties of the staple food crops that poor people eat every day. Ensuring that these crops reach rural areas and improve nutrition requires a clear roadmap and a multidisciplinary approach. Our strategy for reaching this goal has three components—discovery, development, and delivery.