27 August 2021, Nigeria: HarvestPlus has been conferred with the Development Partner of the Year Award at the 2021 edition of the Nigeria Agriculture Awards (NAA) in recognition of its commitment to tackle hidden hunger and malnutrition, while developing innovative approaches to building sustainable food systems on a national and global scale.
The award ceremony was held on the last day of the Feed Nigeria Summit 2021 and was attended by major players in the agriculture space including top government officials, the private sector, research institutions, development partners, and donor agencies. The NAA was created as a platform to recognize individuals, groups, and entities who have contributed significantly to the re-emergence of Nigeria as a veritable force in agriculture, and has awarded prominent persons in previous ceremonies including the President of the African Development Bank, state governors, and commercial banks, among others.
Accordingly, the Development Partner of the Year Award is given to a development partner organization delivering notable interventions geared towards the enhancement of agricultural productivity and food security in Nigeria, especially through collaboration with other critical players in the sector.
In his acceptance speech, HarvestPlus Country Manager Paul Ilona thanked the organizers of the award and all partners who have over the years worked to support the development, production, and promotion of nutrient-rich staple crop varieties like vitamin A cassava, maize, and orange sweet potato, iron and zinc sorghum, and iron pearl millet, all bred through conventional means and now grown by over 2 million farmers in Nigeria.
Ilona emphasised that SMEs and the private sector play a very important role in ensuring these nutritious foods are available, affordable, and accessible to consumers and therey help to address micronutrient malnutrition, which affects a high percentage of Nigeria’s population. He concluded his speech by expressing appreciation for all the donors who have over the years funded the research and delivery of biofortified crops, not only in Nigeria but the world at large, and reiterated the resolve of HarvestPlus to continue to provide a basket of nutritious food options that puts the power of nutrition in the hands of the citizens.
It is estimated that 29.5 percent of children under five years old in Nigeria are deficient in vitamin A, putting them at risk of illness and death. HarvestPlus aims to speed adoption and consumption of biorfortified crops by creating and strengthening demand for the new vitamin A maize varieties, thereby also improving the health status of millions of Nigerians.
HarvestPlus coordinates Nigeria’s staple crop biofortification program, which launched in 2010 as a complementary strategy to address micronutrient deficiency—particularly vitamin A deficiency. So far, six vitamin A-biofortified varieties of cassava, ten varieties of maize, and three varieties of orange sweet potato have been released in Nigeria. Development of iron-zinc sorghum and iron pearl millet are in advanced stages.