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Sunday, February 12, 2017

Uganda makes strides with biofortified crops.

Nsereko’s farm sits on 360 acres of land. On it is a ranch and gardens of watermelon and coffee, the things he has traditionally kept there.In 2015, however, Nsereko decided to start to grow beans on a large scale, but not the ordinary beans. These are called biofortified beans. Through crossbreeding, scientists at the National Crop Resources Research Institute (NaCRRI) in Namulonge have increased the iron content in them. “Crosses are made between preferred varieties that have low iron content with another variety with high iron content but that may not have the characteristics that farmers and the market want,” says Dr Stanley Nkalubo, a bean breeder and Team Leader for Legumes Research at NaCRRI. Nsereko’s beans – named NARO1, NARO2 and NARO3 – the names mainly emphasize that the beans are from the National Agriculture Research Organisation (NARO). The NARO bean two is the best as it is high yielding. The idea of biologically adding iron in beans is to help communities like ours, which are not into processed and packed foods, and so much into eating beans, access iron in good quantities. NaCRRI, a seed breeder; Nsereko, a seed multiplier; and CEDO, a seed distributor, are in a chain of individuals and organisations that target to feed a billion of the world’s people with biofortified foods by 2030. By the end of 2015, more than 100 biofortified varieties across 10 crops had been released in 30 countries, according to Howarth Bouis, the man who founded HarvesPlus 14 years ago and winner of the 2016 World Food Prize for his pioneering work in biofortified foods.In Uganda farmers mainly grow iron rich beans and orange fleshed sweet potatoes enriched with Vitamin A. More