News / Asia

Hunger in Focus: Three Questions with HarvestPlus

In this photo taken 28, May 2010, an Assamese boy carries crops on his shoulder in a paddy field in Mayong village, about 50 kilometers east of Gauhati, India.
In this photo taken 28, May 2010, an Assamese boy carries crops on his shoulder in a paddy field in Mayong village, about 50 kilometers east of Gauhati, India.

The United Nations estimates that nearly one billion people, about 15 percent of the world's population, are malnourished and do not get enough food to eat.  This Saturday, the U.N. is marking the 30th anniversary of World Food Day to highlight the issues behind poverty and hunger.  

As part of VOA's special coverage of this issue, we interviewed Howarth Bouis, Director of HarvestPlus, a Washington-based non-profit group. Bouis says in some areas of the world, what food is available has little nutritional value.

What is your organization doing to make food more nutritious?


We have a crop that we're working on in Asia… a Pearl Millet [Pennisetum glaucum] for India.  We have high iron varieties of Pearl Millet that we'll be able to release in two years time.  Pearl Millet is a crop that is not as favored as wheat and rice, so it's eaten by the poor. So we're planning our delivery strategy now. We're finishing up the breeding. We're doing some of the nutrition studies that need to be done.  We haven't had a chance to initiate the delivery. We're trying to do the same thing with high zinc rice and wheat varieties in Asia.

What kind of reaction are you getting from the areas of the world where people don't have enough to eat?

There are several different sectors that we have to get on board in order to make this happen.  The first is the plant breeders.  We're giving them a new breeding objective.  Normally they want to increase yields.  They want to breed for disease resistance.  They are worried about raising the profits and the incomes of farmers.  We're saying, "Add this to the things you are breeding for. Put more vitamins and minerals, in addition to those other qualities."

Initially there was some negative reaction. [Farmers said] "Look we've got a lot of work to do. Let nutritionists take care of nutrition, we'll take care of increasing yields."

We were able to explain to them about the problem of malnutrition in developing countries that generally the plant breeders were not aware of. They learned what they could to do to help the situation and now we've really got a large community of plant breeders on board. Nutritionists are paying attention. They're starting to get on board. We have other studies in the pipeline. They always want to see additional evidence, so we're providing that. Now the final group that obviously that we have to get on board are the farmers and the consumers.

Has there been any problem of getting this out, or is it a matter of convincing the rest of the world that this will be beneficial to them?


The one difficulty that we're having is that it takes so long. Plant breeding is a process that takes seven or eight years. That whole process from the start to the end and getting an official release of a variety in a developing country takes eight to 10 years, so it's very difficult to get the funding and the sustained interest in a project where you
say you're only going to have impact eight to 10 years from now. That's been our big difficulty.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid