HarvestPlus: Addressing Nutritional Challenges through Zinc Rice

MOTIVATION

In Bangladesh, 41 percent of children under five are estimated to be zinc deficient according to the Bangladesh Demography Survey, and the country loses over US$700 million in gross domestic product due to vitamin and mineral deficiencies according to the World Bank. Faced with such deficiencies in nutrition and productivity, HarvestPlus, in partnership with the European Commission and the IFPRI-led CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH), worked closely with the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI), the International Rice Research Institute, and 30 other partners to develop three rice varieties fortified with zinc.

RESULTS AND OUTCOMES

  • HarvestPlus reached 160,000 households in Bangladesh with zinc rice by 2015, far exceeding the original target of 11,000 households. HarvestPlus strives to expand zinc rice production and distribution to reach 1.4 million households by 2018. To help achieve this goal, HarvestPlus opened a laboratory in Bangladesh in 2015 to support training of scientists and faster crop breeding, ensuring that the zinc rice varieties maintain high quality and improve in nutrient content for the people of Bangladesh.
  • Between 2013 and 2015, HarvestPlus and its large network of partners released new zinc rice varieties that provide up to 60 percent of daily zinc needs, along with iron and vitamin A. Further, farmers benefited economically from zinc rice because it matures earlier, is high-yielding, and is disease- and pest-resistant.
  • At the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) in 2014, Minister of Agriculture Matia Chowdhury praised the zinc rice and its impact on improving nutrition. She said, "The country’s first biofortified rice varieties (enriched with zinc), namely BRRI dhan 62 and BRRI dhan 64, have been released…and this is capable of fighting diarrhea- and pneumonia-induced childhood deaths and stunting."

For more information on IFPRI's research and partnerships in Bangladesh, please go to this brochure.