Monday, 18 April 2011

MALNUTRITION: Donald Danforth Plant Science Center receives grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to work on cassava in Nigeria and Kenya

 April 14, 2011,
 Donald Danforth Plant Science Center

The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center said late Wednesday that it has received an $8.3 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to advance its work on the cassava plant in Nigeria and Kenya.
Funds will be used to support Phase II of BioCassava Plus, a project that aims to reduce malnutrition by increasing the nutritional value of cassava, a staple crop consumed by more than 250 million sub-Saharan Africans and nearly 700 million people worldwide. Martin Fregene will serve as the lead investigator.
Those who depend on cassava for food often suffer from chronic malnutrition, or insufficient intake of essential nutrients and vitamins including pro-vitamin A, iron and protein. According to the World Health Organization, this malnutrition often leads to blindness and other illnesses, disability and death for an estimated 250,000 to 500,000 children each year.
“Beta-carotene, the precursor to vitamin A, and iron are contained in various foods today, but those foods are scarce, unavailable, or too expensive for many people in Nigeria and Kenya,” Fregene said. “Increasing nutrients in local cassava varieties will make it both accessible and affordable for communities to improve their own nutrition.”
In Phase I of the project, researchers were able to develop cassava plants that have 30 times as much beta-carotene, four times as much iron and four times as much protein as traditional cassava. These increased levels reflect what is needed to provide the minimum daily dietary requirements for a child.
The enhanced cassava created by the BioCassava Plus project will be available to farmers in the same way it is being offered today and will have no royalty fees. This means farmers will be able to freely multiply, save and share their planting materials, Danforth officials said.

No comments:

Post a Comment