Linking Agriculture with Health through Genetic and Agronomic Biofortification

Type Journal Article - Agricultural Sciences
Title Linking Agriculture with Health through Genetic and Agronomic Biofortification
Volume 7
Issue 05
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2016
Page numbers 295-307
Malnutrition and associated health problems are partly related to minerals and vitamins deficiencies
where anemia and stunting are the major diseases affecting nearly half of pregnant women
and about 20% children under age of five, respectively in developing countries. Despite the significant
progress made in recent decades, prevalence of stunting in Ethiopia remains high (44%,
among children) that necessitate the country yet to make significant investment in nutrition and
health. Strategies designed to overcome the problem range from micronutrient rich foods supplement
to complementing foods with vegetables and fruits. However, such strategies are expensive
as well as not sustainable to reach the poor households of developing countries. The persistence
of the problem calls for agriculture based alternative solutions such as agronomic biofortification
and micronutrients biofortification through plant breeding. Utilization of crop wild relatives,
local landraces and old cultivars are proved to contain sufficient grain micronutrients and
their utilization in breeding programs can solve the deficiency of micronutrients such as zinc and
iron. Similarly, agronomic biofortification could improve grain Zn and Fe contents in several folds.
Application methods and crop developmental stages during which fortification applied significantly
determine the efficiency of fortification. Foliar application at heading and milking stages
could accumulate very high Zn and Fe in cereal grains. The synergistic effect of genetic and agronomic
fortification could also be utilized to produce Zn and Fe rich food crops. Hence, linking
agriculture with nutrition and health could offer equitable, effective, sustainable and cheap solutions
to micronutrients malnutrition and their deficiency related health problems.

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