HarvestPlus emerges finalist in MacArthur Foundation’s $100m grant competition
HarvestPlus has been named one of the four finalists for 100&Change, a competition for a single $100 million grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
The global challenge seeks bold solutions to critical problems of hunger in the world. After careful consideration, the MacArthur Foundation’s Board of Directors were convinced HarvestPlus’ provides a viable and much needed solution to one of the world’s greatest problems—hidden hunger.
HarvestPlus Chief Executive Officer, Bev Postma said: “We have long believed that addressing micronutrient malnutrition is critical to economic growth and development. Yet millions of children across the developing world continue to suffer from hidden hunger. They may not be visibly hungry, but they lack essential micronutrients—impacting their cognitive and physical development.”
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that malnutrition contributes to the death of 3.1 million children under five every year, almost half of all deaths for that age group. Of these losses, one million are the direct result of hidden hunger.
Acknowledging that hidden hunger largely stems from a lack of dietary diversity in impoverished communities, where many people rely on one or two staple crops for their primary diet, HarvestPlus has pioneered a revolutionary way to increase the nutritional value of these crops. Through a natural plant breeding process called biofortification, crops like sweet potatoes, beans, maize, and cassava are now being bred to contain higher amounts of vitamin A, iron, and zinc —three of the micronutrients most lacking in diets globally, according to the WHO.
Nutrition studies have shown that crops pioneered by HarvestPlus and its partners can dramatically improve vitamin A deficiency, reduce diarrheal disease, improve visual function, and reverse iron deficiency in women and children.
HarvestPlus is currently reaching 26 million people around the world with these more nutritious crops. “Winning this competition will help us meet our goal to reach one billion people with biofortified crops by 2030. Through the help of partners like the MacArthur Foundation, eliminating hidden hunger is possible,” says Postma.
With additional resources, HarvestPlus will be able to forge new partnerships and empower local farming communities throughout Africa, Asia and Latin America to grow and consume more nutritious food. Based on a model of sustainability, once HarvestPlus delivers biofortified seeds, the communities they serve will forever have access to crops that are more nutritious, resilient and high yielding—improving health and boosting economic development globally.
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