How HarvestPlus Is Contributing To National Development


By Adeyemi Bamidele Ezekiel

HarvestPlus Nigeria met with the media yesterday in Lagos, in a breakfast meeting to announce preparations for the 3rd edition of Nutritious Food Fair (NFF), an annual event that began in 2015. 

HarvestPlus Nigeria met with the media yesterday in Lagos, in a breakfast meeting to announce preparations for the 3rd edition of Nutritious Food Fair (NFF), an annual event that began in 2015.

HarvestPlus, a non-profit organization, also made discloser of her contributions to national development over the years to members of the press.
With mission to tackle hidden hunger on a global scale by breeding vitamins and minerals into everyday food crops, HarvestPlus has been working with partners to build sustainable food systems to bridge the gap between agriculture.

This is in acknowledgement of the fact that food is essential for good health and growth. And that, healthy citizens are the greatest asset any country can have. To connect the dots between nutritious food, health, income, women empowerment and GDP growth, HarvestPlus and its partners have over the years developed new varieties of staple food crops that provide higher amounts of vitamin A, iron, or zinc to consumers through a process known as biofortification.

A total of 18 biofortified varieties comprising 6 vitamin A cassava, 8 vitamin A maize, 2 orange sweet potato and 2 iron & zinc sorghum, which were bred conventionally, have been released officially in Nigeria and over two million farmers are estimated to be growing them thereby contributing to the nation’s GDP.

For this pioneering work, four scientists working on biofortification, led by Dr. Howard Bouis – the immediate past Director of HarvestPlus, were recognized as World Food Prize laureates in 2016.

The World Food Prize for 2017 has just been awarded to another advocate of biofortification, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, the President of the African Development Bank, who said at a global forum in Kigali ‘For me, the challenge is no longer the science of biofortification – we know it works; our challenge as policy makers is to scale up biofortified crops to reach millions of households through institutional, regulatory and financial policies’.

Below are the giant strides of HarvestPlus:

Food Security outcomes

• Developed and released 6 varieties of vitamin A cassava in partnership with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture and the National Root Crop Research Institute, Umudike.

• Developed and released 8 varieties of vitamin A maize in partnership with IITA and the Institute for Agricultural Research, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.

• Working with the International Potato Center (CIP) to develop and release two (2) Orange Sweet Potato varieties rich in vitamin A.

• Developed over 25 innovative vitamin A cassava and maize based food products, 10 of which are now fully commercialized.

• Over 8 million people consuming more nutritious foods from biofortified crops.• Over 700,000 tons of biofortified processed foods (cumulative) is estimated to have been consumed at the household level or marketed in rural and urban markets.

Economic outcomes

• On-farm yield increase from biofortified crops estimated at 20% over local varieties.

• Over 1 million farmers growing biofortified crops for food and income, majority of whom are small holders.

• Over 4000 enterprises predominantly in value addition earning about 42% Gross Profit Margin (GPM) ratio and about 116% Return on Investment (ROI) on average.

• Over 8000 persons estimated to be employed directly or indirectly by investors in the biofortified sector.

Social outcomes

• Trained over 200 extension agents now continuously rolling out trainings on good agricultural practices and quality processing of biofortified products.

• Inclusion of biofortification into 4 key policy documents of the Ministries of Agriculture, Health, Budget and National planning aimed at creating enabling environment for investors.

• Biofortification included in budgets of federal and 4 state governments.

• Over 20 international and local NGOs mainstreaming biofortification into their livelihood programs.

• Inclusion of biofortified foods into the Home-Grown School Feeding Program (HGSFP).
Technological outcomes

• 3 local fabricators now manufacturing high quality processing equipment (flash dryers, automated gari roasters, automated fufu sieve etc) and training other fabricators.

• 10 fully operational flash dryers of 4ton/day capacity manufactured by local fabricators.

• 1 international partner—EuroSmart China, providing technical backstopping to fabricators.
Other results

• Increased public awareness and advocacy by partnering with Nollywood to produce 4 blockbuster movies on yellow cassava.

• Additional 4 movies on nutrition and biofortification produced independently by Nollywood.

• Current advocacy efforts are led by 15 advocates in the academia, 17 traditional rulers, 21 women leaders, 25 policy makers and 26 celebrities.

• Established a standardized protocol for vitamin A gari and fufu processing, produced a digital recipe book of biofortified food products as guide for caterers and processors.

• Provided education and training for 10,000 farmers, 6,000 processors and 200 bulking agents. These trainings increased the efficiency of these beneficiaries in their businesses.

• Improved access to processing equipment (extruders and moisture meters) for 1000 micro and small-scale agribusinesses. HarvestPlus also facilitated private sector investment in the importation of extruders and moisture meters.

• Atinuke Lebile,—HarvestPlus youth ambassador for biofortification—having been empowered to start a biofortification enterprise, became one of the 2017 Nelson Mandela Foundation Fellows for her innovative biofortification business solutions.

Key Learnings

“Whenever a business becomes attractive to investors, someone has taken time to develop and prove a business case for it”. This has been the case in the Nigerian cassava sector which is dominated by investments in the gari and fufu value chains. It is now evident that:

• Small and medium scale enterprises are strong drivers of adoption of new technologies in the agricultural sector.

• Demonstrating the potential return on investment (ROI) of an enterprise can significantly attract private sector investment into the nutritious food sector.

• A ‘show and don’t tell’ approach is very important in delivering new agricultural technologies using a business model because Nigerian investors are risk averse. The model village concept used by HarvestPlus was designed to serve as evidence of profitable enterprises with high ROI.

• Regular data collection from enterprises, in line with socio-economic and political changes, is needed to update ROI estimates to improve business decisions for future investors.

HarvestPlus business model for scaling up production and consumption of nutritious foods in Nigeria has been successfully carried out in four pilot States in Nigeria. The next step is to scale out to all states and West Africa. 


Share your story with us: +2348135229228 (call and SMS only) Email: [email protected], Complain about a story or Report an error and/or correction: +2348135229228DISCLAIMER: Comments on this thread are that of the maker and they do not necessarily reflect the organization's stand or views on issues.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here