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ABS Project: Technology Development

Iron, zinc and Pro-vitamin A (PVA) are among the major micronutrient deficiencies around the world.  To fight this “hidden hunger”, in 2009, the UN released a global report titled A United Call to Action on vitamin and mineral deficiencies.  This report stated that billions of people live with vitamin and mineral deficiencies around the world.  In the developing world, approximately one third of children under age of 5 are vitamin A deficiency.  Iron deficiency anemia during pregnancy is associated with 115,000 deaths each year, according for one fifth of total maternal deaths.

The ABS Project is focusing on the first three of the five most important micronutrients deficiencies around the world: Iron, Zinc, Vitamin A, Iodine and Folate.  In agreement with the report contention that that the provision of micronutrients is “the world’s best investment for development”, the first Phase of the ABS Project – which ends in June 2010 - narrowed on two products: ABS#1 (which contains elevated levels of Iron and Zinc as well as elevated PVA) and ABS#2 (which contains elevated levels of Iron and Zinc, elevated PVA, Improved Protein Digestibility and Improved Protein Quality).

Towards the end of Phase 1, the project noted that protein deficiency was not recognized as highest priority as micronutrient deficiencies globally.  After debate – with the ABS Product Development Strategy team on the importance of protein improvement in the final sorghum product, the project decided to focus its attention and resources on ABS#1.  This decision was supported by the fact that several African countries - and more specifically, the initial ABS target countries - showed high deficiencies of these micronutrients.

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