Global Challenge
Grand Challenge
Food Availability Challenge
The Africa Biofortified Sorghum (ABS) Project

The ABS Project seeks to improve the health of millions of people who rely on sorghum as their primary diet.  It seeks to achieve this through the improvement of the nutritional quality of sorghum by adding essential amino acids and vitamins.

The Project recognizes that the challenge of improving the nutritional quality of sorghum by adding essential amino acids and vitamins requires diverse expertise.  The need for a Project Consortium allows the participation of diverse institutions and enables an African-led initiative that allows creative North-South and South-South partnerships designed to address challenges of limited human and infrastructural capacity.  The consortium represents a historic shift in tackling the nutrition and health challenge in Africa and the developing world.
The Project’s three-legged Project Value-Drivers are:

  1. The Nutritional Challenge:  Billions of people in Africa and developing countries suffer from a form of hunger known as “micronutrient malnutrition”.  Vitamin A, the crucial ingredient for effective functioning of the immune system – is a leading contributor to child mortality in Africa and the developing world.  Its deficiency affects the ability of 250 million children to fight off diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and diarrhoea.  The ABS Consortium Members are committed to improving the nutritional quality of sorghum by adding essential amino acids and vitamins as a strategy of tackling the nutritional challenge.
  2. The Charitable Objective:  The ABS Consortium Members are committed to ensuring that innovations, and related rights, are managed and public health solutions are optimized for the purpose of facilitating (i) the broad availability of data and information to the scientific community and, (ii) the access to affordable health solutions for the benefit of people most in need in Africa and the developing world.
  3. The Global Access Strategy:  The ABS Consortium Members are committed to ensuring that knowledge created by the Project is freely available for humanitarian purposes and potential products are accessible at an affordable cost to the people most in need in Africa and the developing world. 

Some key focus areas:

Ensuring the ABS Project is African-driven:  The project proposal was put together by African scientists for the African continent.  It was designed on the premise that Africa has scientific – human and infrastructural capacity – but this is limited to achieve desired goals. 

Africa’s limited scientific capacity:  Very early in the project conceptualization, the notion that there is no capacity in Africa was rejected; instead, the challenge was viewed as one of limited human and infrastructural capacity.  The project has been designed to address these challenges both in the short and long-term.

Involving African farmers and grassroot communities As an “African-led, for Africa-Project” the ABS Project recognizes the need for the involvement of all stakeholders.  A consultative strategy that involves African farmers and grassroot communities will be implemented because we believe that ‘Africa belongs to all of us’.

The focus on sorghum: Africa grows over 50% of the world sorghum in arid and semi-arid countries, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa.  Sorghum is an important African staple crop consumed in form of stiff or thin porridges or as steam-cooked product, such as couscous or as a beverage.  Although it is the main cereal crop in most of Africa, sorghum has severe nutrition deficiencies.

Achieving better health and nutrition: Enhancing vitamin A in sorghum will help prevent blindness and give millions of African children a better chance to fight deadly diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and diarrhoea.  Zinc and iron enhancement will improve the immunity of millions of people making millions of African women less susceptible to infections during childbirth and pregnancy.

Related Links
The GCGH initiative Goals & Grand Challenges The malnutrition challenge Grand Challenge
 
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