HarvestPlus aims to reduce hidden hunger and provide micronutrients to billions of people directly through the staple foods that they eat. We use a novel process called biofortification to breed higher levels of micronutrients directly into key staple foods.

HarvestPlus focuses on three critical micronutrients that are recognized by the World Health Organization as most limiting in diets: iron, zinc, and vitamin A. HarvestPlus envisions that in fifteen years, millions of people suffering from micronutrient malnutrition will be eating new biofortified crop varieties.

HarvestPlus is part of the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH) which helps realize the potential of agricultural development to deliver gender-equitable health and nutritional benefits to the poor. CGIAR is a global agriculture research partnership for a food secure future. 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).

In 2004, the HarvestPlus Challenge Program was officially launched when it became the first recipient of funding for biofortification research granted by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It has also received funding from many other generous donors.

HarvestPlus works with more than 200 scientists, researchers, and other experts around the world, collaborating with universities, institutions and organizations with whom we have formal agreements. We also support and/or work with country programs on biofortification in Brazil, China and India.

  • Harvesting yellow maize
  • Carotenoids analysis
  • Researching in the field
  • Yellow maize lines
  • Mexican tamales made of maize
  • Reviewing maize samples for carotenoids

Funding Institutions

  • Asian Development Bank (ADB)

  • Austrian Ministry of Finance

  • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

  • Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)

  • European Commission

  • The International Fertilizer Group

  • International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI)

  • Royal Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (DANIDA)

  • Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA)

  • Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture

  • United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID)

  • United States Agency for International Development (USAID)

  • United States Department of Agriculture

  • The World Bank

  • World Food Programme

Principal coordinator

General inquiries

project website


Does biofortification work? Three critical questions must be answered.

Can breeding increase micronutrient content of food staples sufficiently to have measurable and significant impact on human nutritional status?

Will the extra nutrients bred into the food staples be bioavailable (able to be absorbed by the body) in sufficient amounts to improve micronutrient status?

Will farmers adopt biofortified crop varieties, and will poor malnourished people buy, grow, and eat biofortified foods in sufficient quantities to improve their nutritional status?

More nutritious staple foods can reach rural communities often missed by other nutrition interventions such as dietary supplementation and food fortification.

Breeding the nutrient into a crop variety takes an up-front investment, but once the trait is added, it is retained. The crop can be adapted to thrive in a range of agroecological zones at low cost.

This strategy is based on staple foods that people already eat regularly. In most cases, farmers can save the seeds or cuttings to replant, and share them freely with their neighbors.

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