Dear HLPE Steering Committee,
Thank you very much for leading this transparent consultation process for the development of the report, "Food Security and Nutrition: Building a Global Narrative Towards 2030", and for giving us this opportunity to provide feedback. I would like to congratulate you on this excellent zero draft of such a key and timely resource that captures prominent challenges, gaps, emerging trends, and opportunities so well, and highlights the urgency of addressing multiple forms of malnutrition through sustained and improved food systems towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #2 to end hunger by 2030.
I strongly agree with you that the "transformation of agriculture and food systems requires a shift in agricultural production from a focus on quantity to quality, e.g., to nutrition-driven agriculture and a focus on sustainable production systems". I am pleased to see that the report emphasizes key issues such as equity/equitable distribution and access to food and technology, the reciprocal relationship between climate change and farming practices, and climate change's impact on the nutrient levels in crops, yield gaps, or affordability and accessibility, which HarvestPlus program targets to address via biofortification.
HarvestPlus' approach to biofortification relies on conventionally breeding food crops (i.e., non-GMO) that are rich in micronutrients, such as vitamin A, zinc, and iron. It is proven to increase the nutrient content of food systems, increase consumer micronutrient intake, reduce/reverse micronutrient deficiencies, and improve health outcomes. It is a low hanging fruit that requires minimal behavior change, is scalable, and cost-effective. It is also equitable as all members of a family consume staple foods – regardless of age or gender. Climate-smart, high yielding, nutritious biofortified crops are becoming widely available, as shown in our global biofortification crop map.
Biofortification has the potential to improve the lives of billions in our lifetime and contributes to reaching key global commitments. It has a direct impact on SDG 2 to achieve zero hunger and provide access to safe, nutritious, and sufficient food and SDG 3 to ensure good health and promote well-being for all. By targeting smallholder farmers whose diets rely on staple foods and who have limited access to more diversified diets, biofortification ensures that "no one is left behind" in combating hidden hunger worldwide.
HarvestPlus, as the global leader in biofortification technology and policy, and the convener of CGIAR breeding centers and other global partners working on biofortification, develops and delivers biofortified planting material through some 400+ partnerships, across 14 countries in three regions (Africa, Asia, and Latin America). To date, 24 countries have included biofortification in their national policies and programs, and more than 40 million people are benefiting from biofortified crops. Please see here for our latest annual report and here for the latest update of our evidence brief. Our aim is to catalyze the scaling up of biofortified crops to benefit 1 billion consumers globally by 2030.
As the CEO of HarvestPlus, given all this evidence, I would recommend that you kindly consider including biofortification as a promising access and sustainability-focused intervention/solution towards transforming to sustainable food systems for food security and nutrition. HarvestPlus greatly appreciates the HLPE's supportive approach in including biofortification's potential impact in its previous reports.
Please do not hesitate to contact me with any follow-up questions. We would be thrilled to continue our interaction and share with you additional resources, our know-how, and lessons learned in pursuing the fight against micronutrient deficiency at scale.
Arun Baral, Chief Executive Officer
HarvestPlus I Better Crops ∙ Better Nutrition