Biofortification Research Programme

Modern agriculture has been largely successful in meeting energy needs and South Africa has been declared a food secure country based on production of sufficient energy for human consumption. However, half of the South African population is affected by food insecurity and hidden hunger, which is a concern that needs urgent action. Agriculture must now not only produce more energy to reduce hunger, but also more nutrient-rich food to reduce hidden hunger and improve nutrition security.

Biofortification is one such a food based strategy. Biofortification is the process by which the nutritional content of food is improved through agricultural and agronomic practices, conventional plant breeding, or modern biotechnology. Biofortification differs from conventional fortification in that biofortification aims to increase nutrient levels in food during animal production and plant growth and not through manual means during processing of the food. Biofortification may therefore present a way to reach populations where other conventional food based strategies such as conventional fortification activities may be limited or difficult to implement.

Biofortification requires direct linkages between agricultural research and the human health and nutrition sectors. This requires a multidisciplinary research approach, a willingness among scientists to communicate across disciplinary boundaries, and innovative funding strategies to support the research.

For more information, contact Prof Hettie Schönfeldt at [email protected]

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