HarvestPlus China

Farmer selling vegetables in Chinese wet market. Xiaobo Zhang/IFPRI

Motivation

Staple foods, such as rice or maize, have few micronutrients, which leaves billions of poor people who depend on these crops with micronutrient malnutrition—or “hidden hunger.” The results are devastating and include blindness, stunted growth, and even death. HarvestPlus-China, launched in 2004 in partnership with CAAS, addresses these malnutrition concerns.

 

HarvestPlus and its partners aim to increase the micronutrient content of food crops through biofortification—a process of breeding higher levels of micronutrients directly into food crops—and ensure that low-income populations then consume the biofortified crops to reduce micronutrient deficiencies. Using innovative ways to fight hidden hunger, HarvestPlus-China also contributes to knowledge and technology transfers across research institutions and implementing agencies in both developed and developing countries.

 

Outcomes

HarvestPlus-China has nine projects and works with 40 partner institutes, including CAAS, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, universities, and provincial centers for disease prevention and control. The program’s main goals are to increase iron, zinc, and vitamin A in rice, maize, wheat, and sweet potatoes. The first successful human trial completed with biofortified sweet potato in Asia, in the Sichuan Province, demonstrated that the crop can greatly improve the vitamin A status of children.

 

Major accomplishments for HarvestPlus-China include

  • approved release of eight micronutrient-enriched crop varieties and development of 18 others;
  • dissemination of vitamin A sweet potato and vitamin A maize to farmers;
  • extensive cultivation of zinc wheat variety Zhongmai 175, which became the control variety in the North China Winter Wheat Trial;
  • organization of a national multidisciplinary research team with relevant technical platforms;
  • publication of 66 papers, applications for eight patents, and facilitation of nine international workshops; and
  • promotion of biofortification to reduce hidden hunger in Biofortification in China (2009) and other forms of outreach.