“Our time is now to end malnutrition and hunger,” agriculture stakeholders commit themselves

More than 300 high-level stakeholders from government, business and civil society today on March 31st, 2014 gathered at Serena Hotel, Kigali, for a three-day consultation on ‘Getting Nutritious Foods to People.’

Senior officials posing with the Prime Minister Pierre Damien Habumuremyi after the opening of the conference

Senior officials posing with the Prime Minister Pierre Damien Habumuremyi after the opening of the conference

During the conference, organized by Harvest Plus and hosted by the Government of Rwanda, the Prime Minister Pierre Damien Habumuremyi called on participants to scale up their efforts in ensuring nutritious foods to their people and end malnutrition.

“Our time is now to scale up what we know works to end malnutrition and hunger because we have resources, tools and evidence at our disposal,” the Premier pointed out. “We owe it to our people to act in smart and swift manners. We owe it to the mothers of our future generation to enable them to meet the best choices of their future. We owe it to the hungry and malnourished to end a reality that is entirely preventable. Our time is now and we must simply do it.”

The Premier made the statements while opening officially the second Global Conference on Biofortification that brought together policy makers, private sector operators, farmer organizations, research centers, members of academia and NGOs from all corners of the globe.

“My sincere hope over the next three days is to have a robust and candid discussion around what is needed to integrate biofortified nutrient rich crops into efforts to fight hunger and malnutrition and how we can accelerate their impacts,” noted the Prime Minister of Rwanda.

PM Habumuremyi noted that Rwandans see biofortified nutrient rich crops as one part of the country’s comprehensive agricultural efforts that complement other interventions.

More from PM Habumuremyi during his opening remarks

The Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI), Dr Agnes Kalibata, said Rwanda has been intensifying efforts in increasing nutritious foods crops to Rwandans. These include iron beans that are widely grown in Rwanda. More than 700,000 households representing one third of the population grow the iron beans.

High yield iron beans is helping tackle anaemia in Rwanda, it has been noted during the conference.

More details from Minister Dr Kalibata on significance of Biofortification

Howarth Bouis, the Director of HarvestPlus, explained that they decided to bring the Biofortification conference to Rwanda because the country has managed to spread iron beans more widely than any other country.

More details from Bouis on biofortification

Nearly one in three people globally suffers from a lack of essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, zinc and iron in the diet. This condition – known as hidden hunger – increases the risk of stunting, anemia, blindness, infectious diseases, and even death. Women and children are especially vulnerable.

During the conference, participants will hold discussions on the best approaches to avail nutritious foods to people. They will also have field trips to get firsthand information on Rwanda’s experience.

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