Scaling up Nutrient Enriched Foods through Policy: The Role of Public Support Programmes

Scaling up Nutrient Enriched Foods through Policy: The Role of Public Support Programmes

One in three people worldwide are malnourished, 768 people are chronically hungry. They go to bed every day hungry, and the trend repeats itself until something changes either they succumb to their condition, or they get access to food. 2 billion people primarily in low- and middle-income countries do not get enough essential vitamins and minerals (micronutrients) in their daily diets. Micronutrient deficiencies also known as “hidden hunger” increases vulnerability to serious health problems, particularly in women and children including stunting, blindness, poor brain development, weakened immunity and anaemia. More than half of the world’s undernourished are found in Asia (418 million) and more than one-third in Africa (282 million). Compared with 2019, about 46 million more people in Africa, 57 million more in Asia, and about 14 million more in Latin America and the Caribbean were affected by hunger in 2020.

New projections confirm that hunger will not be eradicated by 2030 unless bold actions are taken to accelerate progress, especially actions to address inequality in access to food. All other things constant, around 660 million people may still face hunger in 2030 in part due to lasting effects of the pandemic on global food security – 30 million more people than in a scenario in which the pandemic had not occurred. Solutions to addressing hidden hunger can best be found when there is strong policy, enabling environment and implementation push from the policy makers. 

Biofortification - the process of breeding staple crops to have higher levels of essential nutrients through selective breeding- is one of the solutions to end hidden hunger and it stands out over other technologies; though it is complementary in nature, it is the most effective technique. However, a key challenge that restricts scaling up of biofortification is that existing national, regional and global policies, strategies, legislation and investments are grouped into distinct dialogues. These challenges can be overcome through the formulation and implementation of cross-sectoral portfolios of policies, investments and legislation that comprehensively address the negative food security and nutrition effects of the multiple drivers impacting on food systems.

Overview and objectives

The Commercialisation of Biofortified Crops (CBC) programme was launched to address hidden hunger in Africa and Asia by significantly expanding the reach of foods and food products made with biofortified crops (Iron beans, iron pearl millet, zinc rice, zinc wheat, vitamin A cassava and vitamin A maize). Working with policy makers to enhance the enabling environment for the nutrient enriched foods, the programme aims to champion better trading terms, development of public standards that are easy to manage, easy to comply with and easy to understand.     
The Commercialisation of Biofortified Crops Programme being led by the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition and HarvestPlus are pleased to invite you to be part of the webinar on Scaling up Nutrient Enriched Foods Through Policy: The Role of Public Support Programmes. This webinar will explore the role of public distribution systems including school feeding programmes and public procurement on food and nutrition security and how they can be used as avenues of expanding the access to nutrient dense foods by low-income populations.   

The webinar will; 

  • Highlight the potential and progress of tapping into public distribution and public procurement systems such as school feeding programs to expand the reach of biofortified crops and foods to vulnerable populations on a large scale.      
  • Identify opportunities and challenges to engaging public procurement and distribution systems, and how to meet the supply challenge they often pose. 

The event will be moderated by Rewa Shankar Misra, the Head of National Policy and Innovative Finance, HarvestPlus and it will feature:

  • Obey Nkya (Senior Advisor, Food Systems Transformation, GAIN Tanzania)
  • Anant Arora (Senior Director, Akshaya Patra Foundation, India)
  • Dr. Khawaja Masuood Ahmed (National Coordinator, Nutrition and National Fortification Alliance, Pakistan)
  • Dr. Edna Akpan (Director of Commercial Farm, Akwa Ibom State Technical Committee on Agriculture and Food Sufficiency, Nigeria)

Audience members are encouraged to pose questions for speakers, share experiences and contribute to the conversation. 

This webinar will be available in English.

Timeline: 23 November 2021, 1300 CET – 14:30 CET