Global Challenge
Grand Challenge
Food Availability Challenge
Malnutrition Challenge

Will the traits that brought Bill Gates success in business be the same ones will bring the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) success? Many people think so. No wonder Gates recently told the Forbes magazine

"I tend to think more about improving the entire world as opposed to relative positions”.
That approach was definitely on his mind when on 1 May 2003, the BMGF issued a call for “specific scientific or technological innovation that would remove a critical barrier to solving an important health problem in the developing world with a high likelihood of global impact and feasibility”.

The Foundation received over 1,000 applications, of which more than 40 - involving scientists in 33 countries – were funded. The projects were classified into 14 grand challenges (fondly known as GCs) under the Grand Challenges in Global Health (GCGH) initiative. One of the clusters, GC9, focused on agriculture, more specifically, “creating a full range of optimal bioavailable nutrients in a single staple plant species”. In GC#9, the Foundation was acknowledging that the malnutrition challenge is a major global health problem; four project, whose focus was to creating nutrient-rich staple crops, were identified..

Africa Harvest provided leadership in putting together one of the GC9 projects, the Africa Biofortified Sorghum (ABS) Project. This was an African-led consortium containing several African scientists and leading African research institutions.

Over the last four years, the consortium has focused on improving the nutrition value of sorghum. Sorghum, as a crop, is a good source of calories, but a poor source of key micronutrients, more specifically Iron and Zinc.

For millions of people, especially in Africa, diets consist primarily of sorghum; there therefore lack amino acids, zinc and iron, which can results in severe health issues.

Sorghum has a fair amount of iron and zinc, but when you eat it, those nutrients are either “tied up” (not bioavailable) or non-existent (such as Vitamin A). The ABS project seeks to improve the nutritional availability of those key nutrients through addition of Vitamin A, improvement of the digestibility and the quality of the protein that’s in the sorghum seed.

Related Links
The GCGH initiative Goals & Grand Challenges The malnutrition challenge The ABS Project
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