Biofortification to face up to the Zero Hunger Challenge

Prof. M.S. Swaminathan delivered the Keynote Address on “Achieving the Zero Hunger Challenge & the Role of Biofortification” during the Second Global Conference on Biofortification, at Kigali, Rwanda on April 1, 2014.In a scenario where 2 out of 5 children in South Asia are stunted, there is a need to tackle malnutrition with great urgency. To achieve the UN Secretary-General's vision of “Zero Hunger” by 2025, challenges of climate change, reduction in land and water resources for cultivation, expanding biotic and abiotic stresses and reluctance of youth to take to farming , need to be overcome.

Prof. Swaminathan's central message was that agriculture-based innovations such as the development of nutrient-rich crops through biofortification are critical to eradicate hunger.

The major approaches of the biofortification route suggested by Professor include use of:

1. Naturally occurring biofortified plants like moringa, sweet potato, nutri-millets and fruits and vegetables.

2. Biofortified varieties selected by breeding and selection, eg, iron-rich pearl millet and zinc-rich rice. geneticallybiofortified crops like Golden Rice and iron-rich rice (after appropriate regulatory clearance).

Given its current success and its promising prospects, biofortification will be important in achieving the zero hunger challenge in an era of biohappiness, said Prof. Swaminathan.