FAO biofortification project benefits 250 000 households

Source: FAO biofortification project benefits 250 000 households | Newsday (News)

MORE than 250 000 households countrywide have embarked on agronomic biofortification to improve food security and nutrition.

BY JAIROS SAUNYAMA

Speaking at the World Food Day celebrations in Gweru last week, Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) country director Alain Onibon said his organisation had reached 250 000 households which are into biofortification crop production and consumption.

“FAO is proud to be associated with biofortification efforts in Zimbabwe. Through the DFID-funded Livelihood and Food Security Programme, and in collaboration with government, technical and implementing partners, FAO has reached more than 250 000 farming households through the production and consumption of biofortified crops,” he said.

Biofortification is a process of breeding staple crop varieties that are high in selected vitamins and minerals to make them more nutritious.

These include vitamin A-rich orange maize as well as iron and zinc-rich sugar beans.

“These crops are part of the national drive to address the problem of micronutrient deficiencies.

To FAO, nutrition indicates health, diverse productivity and overall well-being of people and prosperity of all despite social status. We believe that no matter how it is defined, nutrition starts with what we eat; the products of the food and agriculture sector,” he said.

“By working on our food systems, on the way we produce, collect, store, transport, transform and distribute foods, we can improve our diets, our health and our impact on natural resources. It is our responsibility as development and technical partners to assist the government of Zimbabwe achieve this.”

According to the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee findings in rural areas, approximately one in every three children below five years (26%) is stunted, while 2,6% are overweight.

One in four children under the age of five years have vitamin A deficiency and one in three have iron deficiency (anaemia).

According to researchers, an unhealthy diet, which gives rise to non-communicable diseases, is a leading factor in deaths across the globe.

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