The initiative of growing orange maize to curb Zambia’s high malnutrition rates has paid off with more than 280 000 tons harvested this season.
According to the lead bodies in promoting the crop, the Zambia Agricultural Research Institute (ZARI) and Agricultural Productivity Programme for Eastern and Southern Africa (APPSA), the pro-vitamin A orange maize harvest is expected to be available during the current marketing season.
“With more than 50% of Zambian children under the age of five said to be malnourished, orange maize offers hope in combating health deficiencies that are caused by a lack of vitamin A, zinc and iron,” said Kabamba Mwansa, lead scientist at ZARI. Mwansa said orange maize is an agricultural solution to Zambia’s problem of malnutrition in children.
With the APPSA/ZARI project, pro-vitamin A carotenoid-biofortification of maize was chosen to target a wide sector of the country’s population. It is endorsed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a huge opportunity to reach populations where conventional fortification activities are difficult to implement.
As a result, several seed companies were contracted to scale up the production of orange maize seed, so that farmers can easily access it.
According to Mwansa, this year’s harvest provided a basis from which Zambia can sustainably scale up the first home-grown solution for combating malnutrition.
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