Micronutrient malnutrition, also known as hidden hunger, affects two billion people worldwide. In recent years, the global challenge of reducing hidden hunger and hence improving related health outcomes through agricultural interventions has received much attention. One potential solution is biofortification—the process of breeding and delivering staple food crops with higher micronutrient content. Biofortification could prove to be a cost-effective and sustainable strategy, especially in rural areas of many developing countries where production and consumption of staple crops is high and high micronutrient deficiency rates are rampant. The aim of this paper is to develop and implement country-crop-micronutrient–specific biofortification prioritization indices (BPIs) that will rank countries according to their suitability for investment in biofortification interventions to be used by various stakeholders with differing objectives. BPIs combine subindices for production, consumption, and micronutrient deficiency, using country-level crop production and consumption data primarily from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations and iron, zinc, and vitamin A deficiency data from the World Health Organization (WHO). BPIs are calculated for seven staple crops that have been developed and for 127 countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean. BPIs should not be used as a one-stop shop for making decisions on biofortification investment decisions because they have several limitations. As they are currently calculated, BPIs do not explicitly take cost-effectiveness into account, neither do they allow for a subnational analysis. Future research will address these shortcomings. For now, the BPIs presented in this paper are useful tools for highlighting those countries that may benefit from significant reductions in micronutrient deficiency through biofortification of staple crops.
Asare-Marfo, D.; Birol, E.; Gonzalez, C.; Moursi, M.; Perez, S.; Schwarz, J.; Zeller, M. Prioritizing Countries for Biofortification Interventions Using Country-LevelData. HarvestPlus Working Paper 11. (2013) 48 pp.