NIGERIA – Bio-fortification giant, HarvestPlus Nigeria, in collaboration with the federal government and development partners, has launched the first national nutritional guide to help Nigerians reduce the risks of malnutrition that has been grappling Africa’s most populous country.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Mahmood Abubakar has termed the National Biofortification Recipe Book titled ‘Biofortification on my Plate’ a game-changer.
He expressed confidence that the information contained in the book addresses the healthy eating and dietary diversity of Nigerians.
Bio-fortification is the process of increasing the density of micronutrients in widely consumed staple crops through conventional plant breeding or agronomic practices.
HarvestPlus, on its website, says it coordinates Nigeria’s staple crop bio-fortification program, which was launched in 2010 to help address micronutrient deficiency—particularly vitamin A deficiency, that affects 30 percent of Nigerian children under five.
It also engages stakeholders in seed and food value chains, sensitizes farming families on the importance of nutritious diets, and empowers them to grow bio-fortified crops.
In February 2021, The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and HarvestPlus launched the Commercialization of Bio-fortified Crops (CBC) Programme in Nigeria to significantly increase access to Bio-fortified seeds, grains, and foods via commercial channels.
The first national 201-page recipe book includes nutrient-enriched foods and features a collection of practical and traditional dishes that have been cleverly adapted to meet the daily nutrition needs of all family members and to provide a diverse menu using bio-fortified crops, aiming to improve nutrient intake and reduce malnutrition.
The book offers over 50 recipes using vitamin A cassava, vitamin A maize, and vitamin A orange sweet potatoes as the main ingredients, Abubakar said.
“BIOFORTIFIED CROPS ON MY PLATE’ features a collection of practical and traditional dishes that have been cleverly adapted to provide added nutrition and fight malnutrition through bio-fortified foods.
“This recipe book is a testament to the power of food to nourish and heal, and we hope it will inspire people to incorporate nutritious bio-fortified crops into their diets and improve their health and well-being,” said Chief Nutritionist of HarvestPlus, Erick Boy.
It is estimated that approximately one in three preschool-aged children suffer from vitamin A deficiency, and over 50 percent of women are anemic.
Traditional white non-bio-fortified cassava, maize, and sweet potatoes are among Nigeria’s most consumed staple foods but are low in essential micronutrients like vitamin A.
To reverse the situation of micronutrient malnutrition—known as hidden hunger in Nigeria, HarvestPlus has so far released nine vitamin A bio-fortified varieties of cassava, eleven varieties of vitamin A maize, and three varieties of vitamin A orange sweet potato.