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HarvestPlus Chief Executive Officer pays courtesy visit to International Potato Center, Nairobi

Nairobi, 31 May 2017 – Beverley (Bev) Postma, the Chief Executive Officer of HarvestPlus, paid a courtesy call to the International Potato Center (CIP) in Nairobi, where she met with senior scientists from the potato and sweetpotato research and development programs.

During her visit, Bev shared her plans into the future and highlighted the new HarvestPlus draft strategic plan, which is based on the vision of 100 million smallholder farmers growing biofortified crops by 2020, and one billion people consuming biofortified foods by 2030. The plan will be delivered with the help of partners through four pillars: research and development; advocacy for an enabling policy environment; seed multiplication and seed systems; value chains and food systems. She added that HarvestPlus would accelerate the partnership model and continue working on definitions, setting standards and dispute resolution.

Bev had the opportunity to learn more about the Sweetpotato for Profit and Health Initiative (SPHI), of which HarvestPlus is one of the Steering Committee members. The SPHI is a multi-partner, multi-donor initiative that seeks to reduce child malnutrition and improve smallholder incomes in 10 million African families by 2020 through effective production and expanded use of sweetpotato. In this effort, the SPHI is also contributing to Harvestplus’ ‘one billion goal’.

She also got a briefing about the Building Nutritious Food Baskets (BNFB) project, which is implemented by a consortium of five CGIAR centers and programs and a regional organization. This project aims to reduce hidden hunger by catalyzing sustainable investment for the utilization of biofortified crops (vitamin A cassava, vitamin A maize, vitamin A sweetpotato and iron rich beans) at scale.

The three-year project is implemented in Nigeria and Tanzania and purposes to demonstrate how multiple biofortified crops can be scaled up at country level using a “food basket” approach. Led by the CIP, the project works with the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT); the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), HarvestPlus, regional and national partners from the government, civil society and private sector.

BNFB holds the thesis that scaling up is dependent on supportive policy environment, strong institutional capacities and proven technologies. The areas of intervention include advocacy, policy development, behavior change communication for demand creation and capacity development to support the scaling up of multiple biofortified crops.

Recognizing the innovative approach taken to scale-up biofortification in Tanzania and Nigeria, Bev remarked that “Biofortification has to be bigger than HarvestPlus.” She pointed out that the learning generated from this project could be used on the continent, and adapted to Asia and Latin America. Adiel Mbabu, CIP’s Regional Director for SSA, explained that this was one of the reasons the BNFB project had been funded. “CIP had successfully implemented the Reaching Agents of Change (RAC) project, which used the same model but with a focus on orange-fleshed sweetpotato. Following the success of RAC, the donor suggested that we work together with other CGIAR partners, to learn how the model could be applied for multiple biofortified crops.”

About Christine Bukania

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