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Fiedler J.L.,HarvestPlus | Fiedler J.L.,National Food and Nutrition Commission | Mubanga F.,National Food and Nutrition Commission | Siamusantu W.,National Food and Nutrition Commission | And 3 more authors.
Health Policy and Planning | Year: 2014

Child Health Weeks (CHWs) are semi-annual, campaign-style, facility-and outreach-based events that provide a package of high-impact nutrition and health services to under-five children. Since 1999, 30% of the 85 countries that regularly implement campaign-style vitamin A supplementation programmes have transformed their programmes into CHW. Using data drawn from districts' budget, expenditures and salary documents, UNICEF's CHW planning and budgeting tool and a special purposive survey, an economic analysis of the June 2010 CHW's provision of measles, vitamin A and deworming was conducted using activity-based costing combined with an ingredients approach. Total CHW costs were estimated to be US$5.7 million per round. Measles accounted for 57%, deworming 22% and vitamin A 21% of total costs. The cost per child was US$0.46. The additional supplies and personnel required to include measles increased total costs by 42%, but reduced the average costs of providing vitamin A and deworming alone, manifesting economies of scope. The average costs of covering larger, more urban populations was less than the cost of covering smaller, more dispersed populations. Provincial-level costs per child served were determined primarily by the number of service sites, not the number of children treated. Reliance on volunteers to provide 60% of CHW manpower enables expanding coverage, shortening the duration of CHWs and reduces costs by one-third. With costs of $1093 per life saved and $45 per disability-adjusted life-year saved, WHO criteria classify Zambia's CHWs as 'very cost-effective'. The continued need for CHWs is discussed. © 2012 The Author.

News Article | October 31, 2016

University of Melbourne researchers are on the cusp of making a real difference by developing a new strain of rice that contains much higher quantities of the essential micronutrients iron and zinc in the grain. This has the potential to reduce chronic malnutrition disorders that can be caused by an over-reliance on rice in the human diet. Some two billion low-income people around the world aren't getting enough vitamins and minerals from their food in what is called "hidden hunger". The World Health Organization estimates that 30 per cent of the world's population is anaemic, in many cases because people simply aren't getting enough iron in their diet. Anaemia leaves people weak and lethargic and it is a significant, even fatal, health risk to pregnant women and children. Similar numbers of people are at risk of not getting enough zinc, resulting in stunted growth and impaired immune function. University of Melbourne plant biologist Dr Alex Johnson and colleagues have created a genetically modified (GM) strain of "biofortified" rice that produces grains with significantly more iron and zinc. In recent field trials the researchers not only beat their targets for increased grain iron and zinc concentration, but the biofortified rice proved to be just as high-yielding as conventionally bred rices. Rice grains usually contain just 2-5 parts per million (ppm) of iron and the researchers needed to increase that to at least 13 ppm to address iron deficiencies in rice-based diets. They managed to get to 15 ppm. Similarly, they had been aiming to increase the amount of zinc from 16 ppm to 28 ppm, but they managed to get to 45 ppm. The results were published earlier this year in Scientific Reports, an open access journal from prestigious scientific publishers Nature. "The results show that this technology actually works in the field, not just in the glasshouse," says Dr Johnson, from the School of BioSciences. "We exceeded our biofortification targets and the rice was just as high yielding as existing rice varieties." Crucially, the field testing also showed that while the genetic modification had enabled the biofortified rice to take up more iron and zinc from the soil, it didn't increase the take-up of harmful heavy metals such as cadmium. Nutritional testing of the grain also showed that if we were to eat this rice, our bodies would readily absorb the higher quantity of iron and zinc. The scientists were able to determine this by "feeding" the rice to so-called Caco-2 cells, which are a human cell line that can be grown in the lab to resemble the cells of the small intestine. The biofortified rice was "fed" to the Caco-2 cells by first artificially "digesting" it using enzymes that mimic our own digestive process. "There are no deal-breakers in these results. We have proven our concept in a major variety of rice, and we are now ready to move this into a developing country," says Dr Johnson. "Rice is the staple food for billions of people today and that isn't going to change anytime soon, so rice biofortification is a tool that we can use to address hidden hunger in a huge number of people. "Over time that should lead to healthier and more productive populations in the developing world, boosting local economics and eventually supporting more diverse and balanced diets. "We can and do use vitamin and mineral supplements and food processing to help people suffering from micronutrient deficiencies, but those interventions are recurrent costs and need industrial processing that may not be readily available in developing countries. Biofortification is a sustainable solution because once it's in the seeds you've increased the nutritional quality of the crop itself. The farmer simply needs to plant biofortified seeds." Dr Johnson's research has been funded and supported by several partners including the Australian Research Council and the not-for-profit HarvestPlus initiative. HarvestPlus is backed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and is tackling hidden hunger in developing countries with biofortified crops. Dr Johnson's ambition is that farmers around the world would face no additional cost for adopting the iron and zinc biofortified rice. Dr Johnson, an American who later also became an Australian, did his PhD at Virginia Tech in the US where he worked to genetically modify potatoes to create resistance to the Colorado Potato Beetle. At the University of Melbourne he has been working on genetic strategies to boost the iron content of rice since 2009. In 2011, his team identified a specific rice gene that when "switched on" increases the amount of iron taken up from the soil and transported to the grain. Usually this gene is only activated when the rice plant itself is short on iron, but by modifying what drives the gene they were able to keep the gene switched on all the time. "We have basically tricked the plant into thinking it is continuously short of iron." They also found that it increased the uptake of zinc. "It was a dream result," says Dr Johnson. His fascination with plants goes back to his childhood when he was enthralled by seeds growing into something that his family could eat. He remembers following his mother around the garden and impatiently digging up her plants to see what they looked like as they were growing. Now as a scientist, he has had to learn the patience of a good gardener. "Given the huge opportunity we have here to fight human malnutrition, there are times when the project doesn't seem to be going fast enough. But plants can only grow so fast and we need time for replicated field trials in multiple countries. It's important that we fully understand how our biofortified rice grows in as many different environments as possible." Dr Johnson and his colleagues are now aiming to introduce the iron and zinc biofortified rice into Bangladesh where almost 80 per cent of cultivated land is dedicated to rice, but where more than half of all children and 70 per cent of women are iron-deficient. He says iron biofortified rice could have a huge impact in this country. Another reason that the team is targeting Bangladesh is that it has already released other GM crops such as an eggplant variety that has allowed farmers to drastically reduce their insecticide use. GM crops are controversial because of concerns from some, including Greenpeace, that they may have unforseen consequences that could eventually harm the environment and pose a health threat. But Dr Johnson says that there is a wealth of information showing that GM crops are safe and notes that more than a hundred Nobel Prize winners, from a range of mostly science disciplines, recently penned a letter asking Greenpeace to end its opposition to genetically modified organisms. "Hidden hunger isn't a hypothetical problem, it is a real problem, and biofortification is a real solution. I've not met anyone who is against that." Explore further: A biofortified rice high in iron and zinc is set to combat hidden hunger in developing countries

News Article | October 26, 2016

Washington D.C., Oct. 24, 2016--A new study has found that vitamin A-biofortified orange maize significantly improves visual functions in children. The study was conducted among school-aged children (4 to 8 years old) in rural Zambia. Children who ate orange maize showed improved night vision within six months. Their eyes adapted better in the dark, improving their ability to engage in optimal day-to-day activities under dim light, such as during dusk and dawn. The study was published in The Journal of Nutrition. "It shows that in populations that are vitamin A deficient, the eyes can respond well to a good source of vitamin A such as orange maize in a fairly short span of time," says lead author Amanda Palmer of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. "It also validates the importance of orange maize for tackling vitamin A deficiency as part of a food-based approach." Vitamin A deficiency occurs on a continuum. Severe vitamin A deficiency with blinding eye disease and a high risk of death from otherwise curable infections is at one end of the spectrum. But, less severe, incipient vitamin A deficiency -- also an important underlying cause of child deaths--is more frequent and difficult to detect. According to the World Health Organization, lack of sufficient vitamin A blinds up to 500,000 children worldwide every year. Impairment of the eyes' ability to adapt to low-light conditions is one of the few measurable signs of vitamin A deficiency at its initial stages. In this study scientists used specialized portable equipment to confirm the benefit of eating vitamin A-rich orange maize in a population with marginal deficiency. "It is an impressive advancement that with portable, more user-friendly equipment scientists are now able to accurately record the changing size of the pupils of the children's eyes," says Erick Boy, Head of Nutrition at HarvestPlus and a pediatrician by training. "In this study, the researchers documented how children's eyes responded to different light conditions before and after a six-month feeding period. This used to be a much more cumbersome task until now." Testing for vitamin A deficiency is problematic because blood collection can prove difficult in rural settings. Levels of vitamin A in the blood may also be affected by other factors, such as infections. Rapid, reliable and non-invasive tools to measure the positive impact of nutritional interventions on the vision of those suffering from marginal deficiency were practically unavailable before this study. Scientists in this study used a new device called a Portable Field Dark Adaptometer (PFDA). The PFDA is a set of goggles manufactured with a digital camera and flash inside. The goggles are connected to a desktop or laptop computer, which can accurately record the response of the pupil in each eye to changing light conditions. The Johns Hopkins team is the first to use this device on a large scale. "Until now, most of the tools and techniques used to measure night vision have relied on dark rooms, which are impractical in rural field settings. And, results were subjective," says Palmer. "With PFDA we don't need a tent or a dark room and it gives accurate results for people aged 3-4 years or older." This randomized efficacy study was conducted in Zambia's Mkushi District among children who were marginally vitamin A deficient. They were served two meals per day, six days a week for six months. Half of the children got meals made from biofortified orange maize, while the other half consumed white maize meals. The children wore PFDA goggles to record pupil response. "We measured the responsiveness of the pupil to light and calculated the change in pupil size over a period of time. These goggles enabled us to monitor something that was not possible before," says Palmer. The biofortified orange maize used in this study was conventionally bred to have higher levels of beta-carotene, a naturally occurring plant pigment that the body converts into vitamin A with higher efficiency as the body stores of the vitamin decrease. More about orange maize in Zambia The Zambian Government is actively promoting vitamin A-rich orange maize developed by HarvestPlus and its partners through conventional plant breeding methods. Maize is a staple food in Zambia and its enrichment can help combat the rampant problem of vitamin A deficiency, whose ill effects can include stunted growth and blindness. Zambia has banned the export of orange maize so that nutritious maize stays in the country to nourish its own people. The country's Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock has included orange maize seeds as one of the material supplies that can be procured under the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP). The ministry is urging farmers, millers, and seed companies to become ambassadors and advocates of biofortified nutritious maize. This message is reaching Zambians. The adoption rate for orange maize is fairly high in Zambia, and HarvestPlus expects that at least 600,000 households will have adopted the crop by 2020. More about orange maize in Zimbabwe Zimbabwe has become the latest African country to move toward making biofortified nutritious crops widely available to farmers and consumers. On August 18, 2016, the Zimbabwean Government officially launched widespread distribution and marketing of biofortified crop seeds under a project implemented by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). HarvestPlus is a strategic partner and technical advisor to the project. Two biofortified crops -- vitamin A orange maize, and iron and zinc beans -- have already been released, with seeds expected to be available across the country in readiness for the 2016/2017 planting season. Farmers in the country can now access one variety of the orange maize and two of the iron and zinc beans, but will soon have more to choose from when varieties already in the pipeline are released. HarvestPlus improves nutrition and public health by developing and promoting biofortified food crops that are rich in vitamins and minerals, and providing global leadership on biofortification evidence and technology. HarvestPlus is part of the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH). CGIAR is a global agriculture research partnership for a food secure future. Its science is carried out by its 15 research centers in collaboration with hundreds of partner organizations. The HarvestPlus program is coordinated by two of these centers, the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

Lozano-Del Rio A.J.,Antonio Narro Agrarian Autonomous University | Lozano-Cavazos C.J.,Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Nucleares | Ibarra-Jimenez L.,Research Center en Quimica Aplicada | de la Cruz-Lazaro E.,Juarez Autonomous University of Tabasco | And 5 more authors.
Journal of Plant Registrations | Year: 2010

'TCLF-AN-105' (Reg. No.TCL-009-251104, México; Reg. no. CV-31, PI 658496) intermediate triticale (× Triticosecale Wittmack) was developed by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), México, and reselected and released as a forage cultivar in Mexico by the Universidad Autónoma Agraria Antonio Narro (UAAAN). TCLF-AN-105 was selected from the progeny of the cross CT776.81//TESM01/MUSK603 produced in the Yaqui Valley, México, in 1989. CT776.81 and TESM01/MUSK603 are two parental lines (winter and spring triticale, respectively) developed by CIMMYT. TCLF-AN-105 was released because of its biomass production, cycle duration and nutritive value. The selection was based primarily on forage and agronomic characteristics and resistance to stem and leaf rust. 'TCLF-AN-31' winter triticale (Reg. no. CV-25, PI 620762), released as a forage cultivar by the UAAAN in 1992 (México Reg. No. TCL-07-080592) was used as reference cultivar. © Science Society of America.

Lozano-Del rio A.J.,Antonio Narro Agrarian Autonomous University | Lozano-Cavazos C.J.,Antonio Narro Agrarian Autonomous University | Ibarra-Jimenez L.,Research Center en Quimica Aplicada | De la cruz-Lazaro E.,Juarez Autonomous University of Tabasco | And 10 more authors.
Journal of Plant Registrations | Year: 2014

'ANPELON' (Reg. No. 2640-TCL-014-010313, Mexico; Reg. No. CV-32, PI 669388) winter triticale (× Triticosecale Wittm.) was selected from the heterogeneous population URSS 3310, sent to Universidad Autónoma Agraria Antonio Narro (UAAAN) by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), Mexico, and registered and released as a forage cultivar in Mexico by the UAAAN and the National Seed Inspection and Certification Service (SNICS) in 2012. ANPELON was released because of its biomass production, regrowth capacity, awnless spikes, and nutritive value. The primary selection was based on agronomic characteristics and resistance to stem rust (caused by Puccinia graminis Pers. f. sp. tritici Eriks. & Henn) and leaf rust (caused by P. recondita Rob. ex Desm. f. sp. tritici) and subsequently, on forage and nutritional characteristics. The reference cultivar was 'TCLFAN-31' winter triticale (Reg. No. CV-25, PI 620762), released as a forage cultivar by the UAAAN in 1992 (Reg. No. TCL-07-080592, Mexico). © Crop Science Society of America. All rights reserved.

Nuss E.T.,University of Wisconsin - Madison | Arscott S.A.,University of Wisconsin - Madison | Bresnahan K.,University of Wisconsin - Madison | Pixley K.V.,Wheat Improvement Center | And 5 more authors.
Food and Nutrition Bulletin | Year: 2012

Background. Vitamin A deficiency is associated with poor health outcomes related to reproduction, growth, vision, and immunity. Biofortification of staple crops is a novel strategy for combating vitamin A deficiency in high-risk populations where staple food intakes are high. African populations are proposed beneficiaries of maize (Zea mays) biofortified with provitamin A carotenoids, often called "orange maize"because of its distinctive deep yellow-orange kernels. The color facilitates ready recognition but presents a cultural challenge to maizeconsuming populations, including those in much of Africa, who traditionally eat white varieties. Objective. This study explores the intake patterns of, as well as adaptation to, traditional foods made with provitamin A-biofortified maize compared with white maize in rural Zambian children 3 to 5 years of age (n = 189) during a 3-month feeding trial. Methods. The subjects were fed a breakfast of maize porridge (sweet mush), a lunch of maize nshima (stiff mush) with various side dishes, and an afternoon snack based on a 6-day rotating menu. The trial was conducted in 2010. The orange maize used in the trial came from three different sources. O1 maize was from the 2009 harvest and was stored in a freezer until use in 2010. O2 maize was also from the 2009 harvest and was stored in a cold room until 2010. O3 ("fresh") maize was from the 2010 harvest and was fed immediately after harvest in week 9 of the study and then stored in a freezer until milling for the final four weeks. Results. Consumption of menu items, except snacks, was influenced by week (p < .0084). The intakes of porridge and nshima made with orange maize equaled those of porridge and nshima made with white maize from week 2 onward. The intakes of porridge and nshima prepared from O1 and O2 did not differ, but intakes became significantly higher when meals made from O3 were introduced (p < .014 for porridge and p ≤ .013 for nshima). Conclusions. These results demonstrate quick adaptation to orange maize, a preference for recently harvested maize, and an optimistic outlook for similar adaptation patterns in other biofortified-maize target countries. ©2012, The United Nations University.

The constrained evidence base of food and nutrition policy-making compromises nutrition programs. Nutrition policy-making must do better than relying exclusively on Food and Agriculture Organization Food Balance Sheets. The strategy of relying on observed-weighed food record or 24-hour recall surveys has not proven practical either; they remain few in number, generally not nationally representative, and of dubious external validity. Although Household Consumption and Expenditures Surveys (HCES) have shortcomings, they are increasingly being used to address this information gap. To promote dialog within the nutrition community, and between it and the greater community of HCES stakeholders, in order to identify their shared agenda and develop a strategy to improve HCES for analyzing food and nutrition issues. The diverse origins and objectives of HCES are described, the evolution of their use in addressing food and nutrition issues is traced, and their shortcomings are identified. The causes, relative importance, some potential solutions, and the strategic implications of three distinct categories of shortcomings are discussed. Elements of a possible approach and process for strengthening the surveys are outlined, including identifying best practices, developing guidelines and more rigorously analyzing the tradeoffs involved in common, key survey design and implementation decisions. To date, the nutrition community's role in most HCES has been as a passive user of secondary data. The nutrition community must become more involved in the design, implementation, and analysis of HCES by identifying criteria for prioritizing countries, establishing assessment criteria, applying the criteria in retrospective assessments, identifying key shortcomings, and recommending alternatives to ameliorate the shortcomings. Several trends suggest that this is a propitious time for improving the relevance and reliability of HCES.

Mugode L.,National Institute of Scientific and Industrial Research NISIR | Ha B.,International Food Policy Research Institute | Kaunda A.,National Institute of Scientific and Industrial Research NISIR | Sikombe T.,National Institute of Scientific and Industrial Research NISIR | And 5 more authors.
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry | Year: 2014

Provitamin A biofortified maize hybrids were developed to target vitamin A deficient populations in Africa. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the degradation of carotenoids after milling, cooking, and storage among biofortified varieties released in Zambia. The biofortified maize hybrids contained 7.5 to 10.3 μg/g dry weight (DW) of provitamin A as measured by β-carotene equivalents (BCE). There was virtually no degradation due to milling. The BCE retention was also high (>100%) for most genotypes when the maize was cooked into thick (nshima) and thin porridge, but showed a lower BCE retention (53-98%) when cooked into samp (dehulled kernels). Most of the degradation occurred in the first 15 days of storage of the maize as kernels and ears (BCE retention 52-56%) which then stabilized, remaining between 30% and 33% of BCE after six months of storage. In conclusion, most of the provitamin A degradation in biofortified maize hybrids occurred during storage compared with cooking and the magnitude of this effect varied among genotypes. © 2014 American Chemical Society.

Petry N.,Institute of Food Science and Nutrition | Egli I.,Institute of Food Science and Nutrition | Gahutu J.B.,National University of Rwanda | Tugirimana P.L.,National University of Rwanda | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Nutrition | Year: 2012

Biofortification of plants is a newapproach to combat iron deficiency. Common beans (Phaseolus vulgaris) can be bred with a higher iron concentration but are rich in iron absorption inhibitors, phytic acid (PA), and polyphenols (PP). To evaluate the potential of beans to combat iron deficiency, three iron absorption studies were carried out in 61 Rwandese womenwith low iron status. Studies 1 and 2 compared iron absorption from high and lowPP beans, similar in PA and iron, fed as bean puree in a doublemeal design orwith rice and potatoes as multiplemeals. Study 3 compared iron absorption fromhigh and normal iron beans with similar PP levels and a PA:iron molar ratio, fed with potatoes or rice in multiple meals. Iron absorption was measured as erythrocyte incorporation of stable iron isotopes. In study 1, iron absorption from the high PP bean (3.4%) was 27%lower (P,0.01) than fromlow PP bean (4.7%), butwhen fed inmultiplemeals (study 2), therewas no difference (7 and 7.4%, respectively; P. 0.05). In study 3, iron absorption from the high iron bean (3.8%) was 40% lower (P, 0.001) than from the normal iron bean (6.3%), resulting in equal amounts of iron absorbed. When beans were combined with other meal components in multiple meals, high PP concentration had no negative impact on iron absorption. However, the quantity of iron absorbed from composite meals with high iron beans was no higher than with normal iron beans, indicating that efficacious iron biofortification may be difficult to achieve in beans rich in PA and PP. © 2012 American Society for Nutrition.

The dearth of 24-hour recall and observed-weighed food record data--what most nutritionists regard as the gold standard source of food consumption data-has long been an obstacle to evidence-based food and nutrition policy. There have been a steadily growing number of studies using household food acquisition and consumption data from a variety of multipurpose, nationally representative household surveys as a proxy measure to overcome this fundamental information gap. To describe the key characteristics of these increasingly available Household Consumption and Expenditures Surveys (HCES) in order to help familiarize food and nutrition analysts with the strengths and shortcomings of these data and thus encourage their use in low- and middle-income countries; and to identify common shortcomings that can be readily addressed in the near term in a country-by-country approach, as new HCES are fielded, thereby beginning a process of improving the potential of these surveys as sources of useful data for better understanding food- and nutrition-related issues. Common characteristics of key food and nutrition information that is available in HCES and some basic common steps in processing HCES data for food and nutrition analyses are described. The common characteristics of these surveys are documented, and their usefulness in addressing major food and nutrition issues, as well as their shortcomings, is demonstrated. Despite their limitations, the use of HCES data constitutes a generally unexploited opportunity to address the food consumption information gap by using survey data that most countries are already routinely collecting.

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