- The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that as many as 140 million children, especially in Africa and Southeast Asia, suffer from vitamin A deficiency (VAD). In addition to causing premature blindness, vitamin A deficiency compromises the immune system, and can increase the risk of illness and death from diseases such as malaria and measles.
- Each year, it is estimated that 670,000 children will die from vitamin A deficiency (VAD), and 350,000 will go blind.
- The adverse effects of vitamin A deficiency are heightened in developing countries, where abject poverty often prevents people from eating and growing more nutritious food. In such areas, the development and dissemination of highly-nutritional, biofortified crop varieties has lagged behind that of more developed countries.
What HKI Is Doing
Biofortification is a method of fortifying food by breeding crops to increase their nutritional value, either through conventional selective breeding, or through genetic engineering. Biofortification differs from large-scale food fortification because it focuses on growing more nutritious plant food, as opposed to adding micronutrients to foods as they are commercially processed.
Helen Keller International and many research organizations see biofortification as a promising strategy for dealing with vitamin and mineral deficiencies in the developing world.
- HKI collaborates with agriculture research organizations to identify and disseminate emerging fortified plant varieties such as orange-fleshed sweetpotatoes that have high nutritional value, high yield and adoption rates, and that can thrive in different growing conditions.
- To encourage acceptance and consumption of these new plant varieties by growers and consumers, Helen Keller International and local partners develop and launch social marketing campaigns, including communication strategies and innovative behavior change approaches that have resulted in improved vitamin A intake among targeted populations.
- HKI is evaluating whether the consumption of Golden Rice improves vitamin A status, and ensuring that, if it is deployed, it will reach those most in need.
- In addition to our work with biofortification, HKI addresses vitamin A deficiency through Vitamin A Supplementation, Homestead Food Production and Food Fortification.
- Recent News
- Promoting Dissemination of Orange-fleshed Sweetpotato
- "Nutrient-enriched crops target 'hidden hunger'"
- "Superfoods for Your Eyes"