By G9ija

HarvestPlus, an international organisation, says it is currently working on the development of zinc-enriched maize and rice to boost micronutrient deficiency of the populace.Mr Dollah Yusuf, Acting Country Manager of the organisation, gave the hint in an interview with the  News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday, in Abuja.Yusuf explained that the development and release of zinc maize and rice would enable citizens had  complete food basket or access to these essential nutrient and vitamins, through the food  they consume.According to him,  at the moment the organisation has developed the vitamin A-enriched cassava, maize, sweet potato  and iron-enriched millet.

Yusuf noted that the organisation was collaborating with the National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI), Institute of Agricultural Research (IAR) and  International Crops Research Institute, for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) to develop and deliver the nutrient dense crops, to the people.He noted that it was the mission of HavestPlus to develop and scale up the delivery of these nutritious crops around the world, so that every child and persons in need of  them, could have access.“HarvestPlus Nigeria is working with NRCRI, IAR and ICRISAT to develop and deliver nutrient dense crops like, the vitamin A-enriched cassava, maize and orange sweet potato.“Others are iron sorghum and iron millet, which we are strongly promoting with ICRISAT.  At the moment, work is ongoing on zinc-enriched maize and we will soon be talking to NRCRI on the development of zinc rice in Nigeria.

“HarvestPlus is an organisation that leads global effort in the fight against malnutrition, through biofortification in Africa, Asia and Latin America.“Our vision is a world free of hidden hunger or  micronutrient deficiencies, which occurs when the quality of food that people eat does not meet their nutrient requirements, so they are not getting the essential vitamins and minerals, required for their growth and development.“Hidden hunger affects two billion people across the globe,” he stated.Yusuf noted that HarvestPlus commenced the promotion of these crops with social intervention.According to him, social intervention is a situation whereby  planting materials are provided free for farmers, by the organisation.He explained that for the past two years, the organisation had gone into collaboration with the Global Alliance for improved Nutrition to commercialise the value chains in a project called the ‘Commercialisation of Biofortified Crops’.

The measure according to him, is to ensure that the seed company that multiplies these varieties, makes money from it, just like the agro dealer that sells seeds at the community level.“The collaboration is also to ensure that farmer increased yields with these varieties and improves his income, the processor who processes into products, is able to have quality raw materials from these varieties and this is yielding result.“From the harvest indications we are getting from the field nationwide,  2021 is going to be a year of the vitamin A maize,” he noted.