In an effort to increase production of vitamin A orange maize, HarvestPlus is soon expected to release seeds across the country in readiness for the 2016/17 planting season.

The enrichment of maize, which is Zambia’s staple food, will help in combating the rampant cases of vitamin A deficiency, whose ill effects can include stunted growth and blindness.

HarvestPlus is also pioneering partnership with small and medium size private sector seed companies as a distribution channel to reach large numbers of farmers, and explore more contacts with large food companies that could process bio-fortified crops into food products.

According to a statement availed to the press recently, the adoption rate for orange maize is fairly high in Zambia, and that HarvestPlus expects at least 600,000 households to adopt the crop by 2020.

“Farmers in the country can now access the orange maize seeds, and will soon have more access to the commodity once released across the country, especially that we have engaged Government and other key stakeholders,” the statement reads.

It suggests that there is need for farmers, millers and seed companies to become ambassadors and advocates of bio-fortified nutritious maize in Zambia to promote health security.

“We are, currently, working with Government as it is also actively promoting vitamin A-rich orange maize by including orange maize seeds as one of the material supplies that can be procured under the Farmer Input Support Programme to increase production of the crop which was developed by HarvestPlus and its partners through conventional plant breeding methods,” the statement reads.

HarvestPlus improves nutrition and public health in Zambia by promoting maize and orange sweet potato that provides more vitamin A in the diet and is currently, working with over 30 partners drawn from Government, business, and civil society.