Tuesday

Biofortification Pioneers Win 2016 World Food Prize For Fight Against Malnutrition


Drs. Maria Andrade, Robert Mwanga, Jan Low and Howarth Bouis were announced today as the 2016 World Food Prize Laureates during a ceremony at the U.S. State Department.
USAID Administrator Gayle Smith gave keynote remarks and applauded the selection.
“These four extraordinary World Food Prize Laureates have proven that science matters, and that when matched with dedication, it can change people’s lives,” said Administrator Gayle Smith.  “USAID and our Feed the Future partners are proud to join with renowned research organizations to support critical advances in global food security and nutrition.”
The World Food Prize is the most prominent global award for individuals whose breakthrough achievements alleviate hunger and promote global food security. This year’s $250,000 prize will be divided equally between the four recipients. The prize rewards their work in countering world hunger and malnutrition through biofortification, the process of breeding critical vitamins and micronutrients into staple crops.
Three of the 2016 laureates -- Dr. Maria Andrade, Dr. Robert Mwanga and Dr. Jan Low of the International Potato Center (CIP), which has had sweetpotato in its research mandate since 1988 -- are being honored for their work developing the single most successful example of biofortification -- the orange-fleshed sweet potato (OFSP). Dr. Andrade and Dr. Mwanga, plant scientists in Mozambique and Uganda, bred the Vitamin A-enriched OFSP using genetic material from CIP and other sources, while Dr. Low structured the nutrition studies and programs that convinced almost two million households in 10 separate African countries to plant, purchase and consume this nutritionally fortified food.
Dr. Howarth Bouis, the founder of HarvestPlus at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), over a 25-year period pioneered the implementation of a multi-institutional approach to biofortificatoin as a global plant breeding strategy. As a result of his leadership, crops such as iron and zinc fortified beans, rice, wheat and pearl millet, along with Vitamin A-enriched cassava, maize and OFSP are being tested or released in over 40 countries.
Thanks to the combined efforts of our four Laureates, over 10 million persons are now positively impacted by biofortified crops, with a potential of several hundred million more in the coming decades.
In announcing the names of the 2016 Laureates, Ambassador Kenneth M. Quinn, President of the World Food Prize, noted “they are truly worthy to be named as the recipients of the award that Dr. Norman E. Borlaug created to be seen as the Nobel Prize for Food and Agriculture”.
2016 marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the World Food Prize by the late Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Dr. Norman E. Borlaug. 
“The impact of the work of all four winners will be felt around the globe, but particularly in sub Saharan Africa,” Quinn added. “It is particularly poignant that among our 2016 recipients are two African scientists who are working on solutions to tackle malnutrition in Africa, for Africa.”
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Economic and Business Bureau Kurt Tong served as host for the World Food Prize Laureate Announcement Ceremony and Nancy Stetson, Special Representative for Global Food Security delivered remarks from Secretary Kerry.
Drs. Andrade, Mwanga, Low and Bouis will receive the World Food Prize at a ceremony that will be held in the magnificent Iowa State Capitol building in Des Moines, Iowa, on the evening of October 13, 2016. The event is the centerpiece of a three-day international symposium entitled the Borlaug Dialogue, which regularly draws over 1,200 people from 60 countries to discuss cutting-edge issues in global food security. 
Also included in the World Food Prize week-long series of events is the Iowa Hunger Summit on October 10 and the three-day Global Youth Institute, which includes 400 high school students and teachers from across the U.S. and several foreign countries and is designed to inspire the next generation of high school students to explore careers in agriculture and fighting hunger.

Monday

Tracking impact - IITA technologies lift over 4 million people in Africa out of poverty



Evidence from research have shown that the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, IITA had—by 2015—at the very least contributed to lifting over 4,306,621 people in sub-Saharan Africa out of poverty through the adoption of improved agricultural technologies developed by the Institute and its partners.
This is the evidence from four completed and published case studies that were presented by Dr Victor Manyong, IITA Director for Eastern Africa hub during a seminar titled ‘Tracking Poverty Reduction Associated with IITA Technologies’ at the hub offices in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, recently.
Dr Manyong said poverty reduction was one of IITA’s key performance indicators and the studies are part of efforts to track and document the Institute’s progress towards achieving its vision of lifting 11.6 million of population out from poverty by 2020 as spelt out in its refreshed strategy.
Two studies conducted this year in Northern Nigeria on the impact of adoption of improved cowpea varieties and drought tolerant maize varieties (DTMV) found that the two technologies had contributed to getting an estimated three and a half million people out of poverty in Africa’s most populous country.
The study ‘Impact of adoption of cowpea germplasm on poverty reduction in Kano State, Nigeria’ used DNA tests to link the improved cowpea varieties being cultivated by farmers to the IITA collection at its genebank in Ibadan, Nigeria. By 2012, 58% of cowpea farmlands was cultivated to improved varieties with yield gains of 254% over local varieties.
The study found that 884,241 people had been lifted out of poverty cumulatively between 1980 and 2015. It also established that the nutritional status of children below five years was higher among those who had adopted the technologies compared to the non-adopters.
Meanwhile, the adoption of drought tolerant maize introduced in Nigeria 10 years ago had removed from poverty 2,668,000 people according to the study ‘Impact of adoption of DTMV on poverty reduction in Nigeria.’
The other studies conducted in 2015 included a baseline study of the Support to Agricultural Research for Development of Strategic Crops in Africa (SARD-SC) and an impact study of the Consortium for Improving Agriculture-based Livelihoods in Central Africa (CIALCA) which collectively showed further  that over 750,000 people were lifted out of poverty in association with IITA technologies.
The SARD-SC baseline looked at the adoption of improved cassava varieties introduced by IITA and partners in Zambia, DR Congo, Tanzania, and Sierra Leone. It established that 194,469 farmers were lifted out of poverty from growing the new high-yielding varieties. Further disaggregation of the results by gender showed that more female-headed households had moved out of poverty than male-headed households.
The CIALCA initiative contributed to lifting 559,810 people in Burundi, eastern DR Congo and Rwanda out of poverty. CIALCA had developed and disseminated a complex set of technologies including improved crop varieties combined with crop management practices, integrated pest management practices and marketing strategies. Productivity levels were found to be higher among the adopters compared to non-adopters.
Addressing adoption challenges
Dr Manyong said while these studies had shown that the adoption of technologies generated by IITA and partners had contributed significantly to poverty reduction the impact would have been higher if more people had adopted the technologies.
“For example, from the sample surveyed in DTMV-target areas of Nigeria, about 53% of households knew about the technology but only 44% had adopted. The question therefore is why did some of those who knew about the technology not adopt it?” Dr Manyong asked. “Some of the reasons behind this could be low accessibility and availability of the seeds—these are adoption constraints that we need to address for more impact.”
The lessons from this study will be used to refine tools to track the Institute’s progress in reducing poverty in future planned impact studies on other technologies that IITA has disseminated. These include improved varieties of soybean, yam, banana and plantain varieties, banana/coffee intercropping and Striga control, among others.
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