Micronutrient deficiency is a widespread health problem in the developing world. Most efforts to combat this issue have focused on providing vitamin and mineral supplements to vulnerable population groups and/or fortifying foods through postproduction processing. The outcome of these interventions has not always been successful; particularly as isolated communities are often not reached due to logistical problems or do not regularly consume processed products. Also, supplementation interventions are frequently dependent on external funding and thus their sustainability is questionable.
Biofortification, the breeding of new, micronutrient‐rich varieties of staple foods, has been proposed as an additional strategy for combating micronutrient malnutrition. In recognition of the potential of biofortification, the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) formed HarvestPlus, an initiative coordinated by International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) (HarvestPlus 2006) that “seeks to reduce the effects of micronutrient malnutrition (especially Vitamin A, Iron and Zinc deficiencies) by harnessing plant breeding to develop staple food crops (beans, cassava, maize, rice, sweetpotatoes and wheat in the first phase) that are rich in micronutrients” (HarvestPlus 2003). The introduction of these biofortified crop varieties will complement existing approaches by offering a sustainable, low‐cost method for reaching people with poor access to health care systems or formal markets. Additionally, their introduction will provide continuing benefits throughout the developing world at a fraction of the recurring cost of either supplementation or postproduction fortification (McClafferty and Russell 2002).