Coordinated by CIAT and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), HarvestPlus’ mission is to develop and scale up the delivery of biofortified nutritious crops around the world, so that every child, woman, and man who needs them can have access. We also strive to provide global leadership on biofortification evidence and technology.

When 2 billion people lack essential vitamins and minerals, both the individuals and the world as a whole suffer the consequences of that hidden hunger. We believe that hidden hunger can be solved by actively adding micronutrients to the diets of those who are deficient.

What we do: On the way to reaching 1 billion people by 2030

With our partners, we develop new, more nutritious varieties of staple food crops that provide higher amounts of vitamin A, iron, or zinc—the three micronutrients identified by the World Health Organization as most lacking in diets globally.

To do this, HarvestPlus and CIAT use biofortification: the process of increasing the density of vitamins and minerals in a crop, through plant breeding or agronomic practices, so that when consumed regularly will generate measurable improvement in vitamin and mineral nutritional status

HarvestPlus’ goal is to reach 15 million farming households—100 million people— with biofortified nutritious foods by 2020. By strengthening our partnerships and delivery efforts, we are confident that we can reach 1 billion people with biofortified foods by 2030.

How we do it: Going global with more nutritious foods

We use a process called biofortification, which uses conventional breeding to improve crops. Plant breeding is the improvement of crops in order to develop new varieties with desirable characters (traits) such as higher yield, resistance to diseases, and higher micronutrient content. Our innovative approach complements other nutrition interventions, and is evidence-based, cost-effective, and sustainable.

We do this in collaboration with international research institutes and national research partners.We work with diverse partners from government, business, and civil society to (1) develop, test and release biofortified crops, (2) educate farmers and consumers on the benefits of these crops, and (3) build markets—all to ensure that nutritious foods reach as many people as possible. We have direct field operations in many countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

Why biofortification?

Targeted: More nutritious staple foods can reach rural communities often missed by other nutrition interventions such as dietary supplementation and food fortification.

Cost-effective: Breeding the nutrient into a crop variety takes an up-front investment, but once the trait is added, it is retained. The crop can be adapted to thrive in a range of agroecological zones at low cost.

Sustainable: This strategy is based on staple foods that people already eat regularly. In most cases, farmers can save the seeds or cuttings to replant, and share them freely with their neighbors.

Our impact

The program has released over 130 biofortified crops in 30 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America since its inception in 2004.

Since 2011 when HarvestPlus first introduced iron beans to Rwandan farmers, more than half a million farming households have grown the crop.

HarvestPlus and partners delivered 165 metric tons of iron bean seed to more than 175,000 households raising the total number of Congolese who have tried iron beans to nearly 2 million.

Specially-bred, high-iron beans have reduced iron deficiency and anaemia in young women in Rwanda.

Research updates

harvestplus | CIAT Blog Science to Cultivate Change


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Latest publications

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