Micronutrient malnutrition, also called hidden hunger, is dangerous to health.
To eradicate it, an international global organisation has taken up the challenge.
Spearheading the firms is HarvestPlus, a programme of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). It is seeking to reduce micronutrient malnutrition through bio-fortification; by breeding new varieties of staple food crops that contain or provide more vitamins and minerals.
It is biofortifying crops, such as beans, millet, cassava, maize, sweet potato, rice, and wheat with vitamin A, iron or zinc. The crops are not only high yielding but also drought tolerant and pest resistant.
One of the benefitting farmers is Atinuke Lebile, co-founder of Cato Foods &Agroallied Global Concepts in Ibadan, Oyo State. A HarvestPlus’ partner, her firm cultivates vitamin A cassava crops as well as rice and vegetables.
Three years after she started her agribusiness in 2014, she is making money from bio-fortified cassava and other crops she planted on her farm.
Lebile is at the vanguard of young farmers planting bio-fortified vitamin A yellow cassava. She has seen many malnourished people suffering from vitamin A deficiency. To this end, she is working with Harvest Plus to distribute cassava root varieties that are rich in vitamin A.