Yesterday, on the Chicago Council’s Food for Thought blog, DuPont Pioneer research director, Marc Albertsen, shared his experiences working on a sorghum biofortification collaboration with American and African scientists.
Marc Albertsen, research director, DuPont Pioneer with Florence Wambugu, CEO, Africa Harvest at the ABS research greenhouse in Kenya.
The African Biofortified Sorghum (ABS) initiative is focused on addressing the issue of micronutrient deficiency in Sub Saharan Africa, especially among children under 5. Often called “hidden hunger,” micronutrient deficiency is not obvious until too late in a child’s development – when there is permanent damage that leads to a lifetime of consequences. In Africa, for example, up to half a million children become blind from Vitamin A deficiency. Iron and zinc deficiencies result in stunting of normal growth and increased risk of cognitive impairment, disease, and death from severe infections.
It is estimated that nearly 300 million people in Africa depend on sorghum as a staple crop, but do not have access to another staple that provides the essential nutrients that sorghum lacks.
Improved sorghum hybrids will help address micronutrient deficiencies in many African villages. Through the biofortification of sorghum, the ABS consortium of African and American scientists have achieved beta-carotene levels that have the potential to deliver 100 percent of the daily vitamin A and 80 percent of iron and zinc requirements in children under the age of three. And, they have improved the stability of beta-carotene during storage by over 100 percent from four weeks to 10 weeks. The ABS initiative supports capacity building, promoting industry and regulatory affairs framework and sustainable seed system development.
The Chicago Council’s campaign, “Healthy Food for a Healthy World,” builds awareness about the important role food can play in promoting health and alleviating malnutrition. To read Marc’s Healthier Crops, Healthier People blog post, click here.
In a few week’s, the Chicago Council will release a new report on food security at its Global Food Security Symposium 2015. DuPont Pioneer President, Paul Schickler, will participate as a panelist at the Symposium. Tune in to the Symposium live stream on April 16.