A total of 500 kilos of biofortified iron beans were donated to the Mayor’s Office of Cali to feed 500 families during the crisis caused by COVID-19. This type of bean, known as BIO-102, contains higher levels of iron and zinc than commercial beans and will be delivered to communal kitchens. The donation was made possible by the work of HarvestPlus, the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT and the Cali Secretariat of Economic Development.
Due to the paralysis of most economic activities in the country as a result of the presence of COVID-19, families have seen their daily income and nutritional security affected. For this reason, the Mayor’s Office of Cali has implemented various strategies to mitigate the crisis. One of them is the distribution of food among the different communal kitchens that exist in the city. These spaces allow the community to prepare and distribute food collectively among their families.
The donated biofortified beans will be on the menu of these places and are expected to help feed at least 500 families. This is the message of Argemiro Cortes Buitrago, Cali’s Secretary of Economic Development:
“These beans will be given to the neediest sectors so they can make food in the communal kitchens. With this, we partly calm the food needs.”
Biofortified crops are naturally more nutritious crops with higher amounts of vitamins and minerals from the seed. This is especially important during the current contingency since minerals such as iron and zinc are essential for a strong immune system and good health in general. One portion of biofortified beans can provide up to 29% iron and 14% zinc of the daily requirement of these nutrients.
During the current crisis, HarvestPlus has successfully distributed more than four tons of biofortified crop seeds to small farmers across the country in an effort to contribute to stable food production during the second half of the year. This was observed by Carolina González, assistant director of HarvestPlus Latin America and the Caribbean:
“We are aware of the current problems and we seek to help families with fewer resources to have access to food with more nutritional quality. On the other hand, with the donation of seeds, we want to contribute to maintaining stable production in the second semester. This production ensures food for producers, their families, and consumers”.
Four types of biofortified crops are already available in Colombia; iron-beans, zinc-maize, zinc-rice and vitamin A sweet potato. All these crops naturally contain higher amounts of vitamins and minerals than conventional varieties.
The biofortified crops are produced in Colombia by small farmers who are part of biofortificados.com, a web platform that gathers all the information about these foods.