In 2010, the HarvestPlus Challenge Program, cohosted with the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), concluded an evaluation of the economic and health effects of biofortified orange-fleshed sweet potato (OFSP) in Mozambique and Uganda; this marks the first such release and evaluation of a biofortified crop supported by HarvestPlus and the first use of a randomized field experiment to assess the impact of biofortification on a range of agricultural and nutritional outcomes. The exciting results include the high adoption rates of OFSP by farmers, and significant increases in OFSP consumption—and thus vitamin A intakes—among young children (6–35 months), older children (3–5 years), and adult women. This success makes scaling up future dissemination of OFSP a viable option in both countries if costs per beneficiary can be kept as low as possible.
The First Global Conference on Biofortification, organized by HarvestPlus, took place in November 2010 and attracted 300 scientists, researchers, decisionmakers, practitioners, and students from around the world, who discussed the development and delivery of biofortified crops in the coming years.
IFPRI research related to diet quality and health in 2010 focused on strengthening the linkages between agriculture, health, and nutrition. In Zambia, IFPRI and Concern Worldwide launched a collaborative project—Realigning Agriculture to Improve Nutrition (RAIN)—to evaluate community-based, women-focused programs that improve maternal and child health by integrating agriculture, health, and nutrition interventions. In addition, IFPRI and Helen Keller International (HKI) have been evaluating the effects of HKI’s homestead food production programs, which are targeted toward women. The evaluation of one such program in Cambodia and its impact on children’s nutrition ended in 2010, but a similar program began in Burkina Faso. The latter assesses how the success of interventions (for example, improved child feeding practices) can be compounded when combined with strategic communications about behavior change; it uses village health committees or groups of older, influential women in the community to disseminate nutritional information.
After nearly a decade of work, the Regional Network on AIDS, Livelihoods, and Food Security (RENEWAL) drew to a close in 2010 and publicized its work in these formats: a series of publications on HIV, food, and nutrition security in Uganda; presentations at the International AIDS Conference in Vienna; a synthesis workshop in Cape Town, South Africa; and a leading role in integrating food and nutrition considerations into HIV programs at the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board Meeting in Geneva.
Food safety directly affects the diet quality, health, and livelihoods of the poor in developing countries, so IFPRI remains actively engaged in research related to understanding and avoiding food and water safety hazards.
The Aflacontrol Project, facilitated by IFPRI, aims to reduce the risk of human and animal contamination from aflatoxins—fungi-produced toxins that afflict crops—by examining the effectiveness of mitigation technologies. In 2010, researchers launched household, community, and trader surveys in Kenya and Mali to understand aflatoxin’s impact on the poor, specifically their livelihoods, perceptions of the diseases caused by aflatoxin, and willingness to pay for a variety of control measures that could reduce prevalence levels along the maize and groundnut value chain. In 2010, various members of the team met with representatives from the Kenyan ministries of agriculture and health to discuss ongoing evaluations of aflatoxin levels in maize value chains throughout the country.
Other focal areas under the Diet, Health, and Food Safety theme include: