The second international meeting on corn harvesting, the Biofortification of Agriculture Products for Improvement in Human Nutrition program, will take place as of today, August 10, in the city of Sete Lagoas, in the southeastern Brazilian state of Minas Gerais.
Developed by the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa), the project is part of the HarvestPlus, world program with the objective of developing new varieties of seeds enriched with nutrients to fight malnutrition in poor or developing countries.
The first meeting on corn harvesting took place in Ethiopia, in 2003. In Brazil, there will be the participation of researchers from countries such as England, Germany, Australia, United States, Canada, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Zambia, Uganda, Mexico and Guatemala.
According to Robert Eugene Schaffert, researcher at the Embrapa and coordinator in the “Development of corn germplasm” research line, the program was designed to ensure that the advances in science and technology are applied to enriching nourishment amongst the poorer populations.
“In this research the aim is to increase the concentration of iron, zinc and provitamin A in corn grains,” explains the researcher.
According to him, zinc promotes resistance to illnesses, iron combats anemia and vitamin A avoids blindness.
“We are even developing a quality program, where these new nutrition properties in corn will be incorporated, adapted to the production in the Northeast, where there are the highest poverty indices in the country,” he says.
During the meeting, the participants in the project will have the opportunity to demonstrate the results to their researches for the HarvestPlus advancement.
“Today 28 scientists participate in the project in the world. The meeting is a great gathering and a great opportunity to exchange experiences,” explains Schaffert.
The event will take place at the Information Nucleus for Agribusiness (NIA) at the Embrapa Corn and Sorghum.
As well as the researches with corn, around the world HarvestPlus is studying the ways of increasing the nutritious potential of wheat, rice sweet potato and beans, enriched with iron, zinc or vitamin A, both through conventional crossing, through biotechnology.
In Brazil, through the Embrapa, the project carries out researches with manioc, in the capital city Brasília and the northeastern state Bahia, and rice, also in Brasília and Goiânia, city in the midwestern state of Goiás.
HarvestPlus is sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development. Organizations in Africa, Europe and United States are involved in the project, complemented with resources and knowledge from international private and public organizations.
The International center for Corn and Wheat Improvement from Mexico, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, the University of Illinois (USA), the State University of Iowa (USA) and the Wageningen University (Holland) are some of the participants in the program.
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