01 February 2021, Nigeria: The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and HarvestPlus have launched the Commercialisation of Biofortified Crops (CBC) Programme in Nigeria to significantly increase access to biofortified seeds, grains, and foods via commercial channels in Africa’s most populous country. The programme will facilitate a commercial delivery system for biofortified crops such as vitamin A cassava and vitamin A maize.
Born out of the need to improve consumption of essential vitamins and minerals for vulnerable people through the food system, the programme’s work in Nigeria will build on existing activities of HarvestPlus and GAIN as well as other partners in the commercial delivery of nutrient-enriched staple crops. In the initial phase, GAIN and HarvestPlus will work with partners in Osun, Anambra, Cross River, and Nasarawa states to scale up the production of vitamin A cassava, and in Kaduna, Niger, Imo, and Oyo states to scale the production of vitamin A maize.
The CBC partners held a Nigeria launch event on December 8, 2020, to broaden stakeholders’ understanding of the project and secure their buy-in and support for scaling up the commercialization of these biofortified crops and food products. The launch attracted both in-person and virtual participation by over 100 stakeholders in the food and agriculture value chain in Nigeria and abroad.
GAIN Executive Director Lawrence Haddad delivered the welcome address and Donald Mavindidze, the Africa regional director of HarvestPlus, introduced the programme. Paul Ilona, the Nigeria country manager for HarvestPlus, and Michael Ojo, the GAIN country director for Nigeria, gave an overview of their respective activities in the country.
Senator Muhammad Bima Enagi, Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Agriculture and Productivity, along withHajiya Karima Babangida, the representative of the Hon. Minister of Agriculture [Babangida was represented by Razak Oyeleke], officially inaugurated the launch ceremony. Several development, implementing, and research partners were also present.
“The ninth Senate and the ninth National Assembly are committed to supporting all the relevant stakeholders in this biofortification drive and ready to work closely together to ensure that appropriate legislation are put in place to support biofortification for the benefit of all Nigerians,” said Senator Enagi.
The CBC project leads urged stakeholders to give their full support in achieving a successful project outcome, while some of the stakeholders present gave assurances of their willingness to collaborate with GAIN and HarvestPlus in ensuring the success of commercializing these biofortified crops.
Next steps include strategic stakeholder engagements with federal ministries (Agricultural and Rural Development, Health and Industry, Trade and Investment) and agencies, SMEs (farmers, processors, etc.), and development partners already active for effective implementation, as well as fostering new partnerships to achieve scale. The aim is to work closely with all stakeholders to establish a solid commercial pathway to strengthen the supply chain and improve demand for these nutritious staples (vitamin A cassava and maize) and more than 25 by-products.
Nearly 30 percent of children under five years of age in Nigeria are deficient in vitamin A, which impairs growth, causes eye damage that can lead to blindness, and increases the risk of infections such as diarrheal diseases. It is expected that through the implementation of this project and the partnerships that will be engaged, the micronutrient intake of Nigerians—especially the most vulnerable children under five years of age and women of reproductive age who are most at risk—will improve significantly.
The CBC Programme addresses hidden hunger in Africa and Asia by significantly expanding the reach of nutrient-rich biofortified crops and foods. Alongside national partners, the programme is catalysing commercial markets for biofortified staple crops and food products. The Programme currently operates in Bangladesh, India, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Tanzania. The Programme is co-led by the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and HarvestPlus, with funding from Germany’s Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.