Smallholder Irrigation Revitalisation Programme Champions Biofortification for Enhanced Food Security and Environmental Resilience

Government officials, development partners, private sector representatives, and academics convened at the National Policy Dialogue on Biofortification this Wednesday at the Rainbow Towers Hotel in Harare, emphasizing the critical role of biofortification in addressing malnutrition, enhancing food security, and bolstering environmental resilience.

Biofortification is the process by which the nutrient density of food crops is increased through conventional plant breeding, and/or improved agronomic practices and/or modern biotechnology without sacrificing any characteristic that is preferred by consumers or most importantly to farmers.

The policy dialogue sought to promote the production and consumption of biofortified crops in Zimbabwe.

In his address, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, Obert Jiri highlighted the significance of biofortification not only for agricultural development but also for public health and environmental sustainability. He underscored the transformative potential of biofortification in improving the nutritional quality of food, combating malnutrition, and mitigating environmental challenges such as drought.

“Bio fortified crops, enriched with essential vitamins and minerals, serve as a beacon of hope in the fight against malnutrition and hidden hunger. These nutrient-rich crops offer a sustainable solution to addressing deficiencies that plague millions around the globe, particularly in vulnerable populations and resource-limited settings”.

When assessing food security, it is crucial to consider the availability of food, nutrition, and environmental security. Biofortification addresses these interconnected aspects by enriching staple crops with essential vitamins and minerals, thereby enhancing both the nutritional content and resilience of crops against environmental stressors.

Zimbabwe’s commitment to scaling up the production and consumption of biofortified crops aligns with global efforts to address food and nutrition security challenges. By integrating biofortification into agricultural practices, stakeholders aim to ensure the availability of nutritious food while also promoting environmental sustainability.

Biofortified crops have demonstrated resilience to environmental factors, including drought. Through innovative breeding techniques, researchers have developed varieties that can withstand prolonged periods of water scarcity, ensuring a more reliable food supply in drought-prone regions. By enhancing the resilience of crops, biofortification contributes to long-term food security and environmental sustainability.

Despite the promising potential of biofortification, challenges such as seed availability, enabling environment, myths, misconceptions, and market access persist. Addressing these barriers requires collaborative efforts from government agencies, development partners, private sector organizations, and civil society.

Various initiatives, such as the Smallholder Irrigation Revitalization Programme (SIRP) and the Livelihoods Food Security Programme (LFSP), have been instrumental in promoting biofortification through training, demonstration plots, input distribution, and capacity building. These efforts aim to empower farmers with the knowledge and resources needed to adopt biofortified crops and improve food and nutrition security at the grassroots level.

In conclusion, biofortification represents more than just a technological innovation; it symbolizes a holistic approach to addressing food security, nutrition, and environmental sustainability challenges. By investing in biofortification, stakeholders aim to nourish communities, promote sustainable agriculture, and cultivate resilience in the face of environmental threats, ultimately contributing to a healthier, more equitable future for Zimbabwe.

The dialogue concluded with a call to action, urging stakeholders to work together to overcome challenges and accelerate the adoption of biofortification, thereby improving food security, nutrition outcomes, and environmental resilience across Zimbabwe.

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